Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

3 Essential Things to Know About Your VIN Number

vin number

Every vehicle on the road today has a VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, but very few people understand these numbers or how they are devised. They serve as a fingerprint for your car, and no two vehicles currently in operation are allowed to have the same VIN. The VIN is made up a combination of digits and capital letters and is 17 characters long that act as a vehicle’s unique identifier sharing details such as specifications, manufacturer, and unique features. The VIN provides a way for the manufacturer and owners to track warranty claims, registrations, recalls, thefts, and insurance coverage.

VIN Decoded

There are several different pieces of information that you can find within the VIN; details about the manufacturer, where the vehicle was built, whether or not the vehicle is a flex fuel, the brand, engine size, and type, an authorization character that is manufacturer-specific, the model year, an indicator of the plant where the vehicle was manufactured, and finally the serial number of the vehicle itself. Before 1981, the VIN could have been anywhere from eleven to eighteen characters, so VINs that were created before that date are not searchable, nor are they reliable.

Where is the VIN Located

Finding the VIN is relatively straightforward, but it can be difficult to read because the numbers are quite small and in a difficult area to read: at the top of the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Standing outside the vehicle and looking through the windshield is the best way to read the VIN. There are a few other places that the VIN can be found more easily: on your insurance card or insurance policy paperwork and on your vehicle title and registration.

What is a VIN Search?

A VIN check can be performed on a variety of different websites, and you can get information about your vehicle such as whether or not your car has ever been in a wreck and what the repair history is for your car. You can also confirm that the vehicle that you’re driving really does match the VIN that it was manufactured under. This is particularly handy when you’re trying to confirm that a car you are interested in purchasing has never been in a wreck or had repairs from a flood or hail damage.

Your vehicle’s VIN can give you a lot of great information about your car as long as you know how to look for it and what the information means.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Flexible Clutch Hose
Common signs include difficulty shifting, low clutch fluid, and feeling no resistance at the clutch pedal.
P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222 code means The manufacturer specifies a range of acceptable voltage to be produced from the throttle position...

Related questions

Q: 2004 Mazda 6s (V6-3.0L Automatic) VS. 2004 Hyundai Elantra GLS

From your tax dollars, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the 2004 Mazda 6 has 0 Recalls and 0 Technical Service Bulletins - which all manufacturers are required to report for serious problems. The 2004 Hyundai Elantra has 5...

Q: engine suddenly died and wont turn over

There is a recall, 05v270000, for electrical system wiring dated 2005-06-07. This is a Ford recall number that pertains to this exact problem you are having and the cause of the issue may be the fuel injection wire harness or...

Q: Car won't start sometimes

The vehicle and engine would decide on the actual cost to repair the problems. The no start may be more than a battery or starter. I recommend having a pre-purchase inspection done on the car to ensure that the correct...