The Importance of a VIN

VINEvery time people have problems with their car, they either take it to the dealer for an inspection, or get on the phone and call the service centre. On both methods, people will ask for the vehicle identification number or VIN. What’s so important about that number that car people always ask about that first, and where can car owners find it anyway?

Where’s the VIN?

Pickles Auctions explained that there are three ways drivers can find the VIN: the first is on the dash plate, the second is on the Column B, and the third is on the vehicle’s registration. It’s a seventeen-digit number so it’s hard to miss and mistake for anything else.

The VIN is important, a sits equivalent to the car’s birth certificate. All of its information including year, make, model, security and repair history are all recorded under this number. No other car in the world past, present or future will have that number. Service centres don’t even have to see the vehicle to know everything about it: they just need to input the VIN, and they’ll know more about the vehicle than the owners do.

Each number or letter in the sequence has a universal meaning; dealers, auctioneers and service centre agents have a general idea of what each of them mean. That’s thirty-five different meanings for each of those seventeen digits, that’s a lot of information to stuff in a single number. Being able to read the VIN is a useful skill to learn if drivers want to appraise a vehicle at a second hand dealer or an auction.

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Reading the VIN

The only essential thing to remember are the first nine digits, these digits can tell drivers where a vehicle came from, everything after that gets very specific. If the first digit is one, four, or five the vehicle is made in the U.S.; two is Canada; three is Mexico; J is Japan; K is South Korea; S is England; W s Germany; and Y is either Sweden or Finland.

The second digit works in conjunction with the first and tells the driver the manufacturer of the vehicle; A is for Audi, B is BMW, G is GM, L is Lincoln, and N is Nissan. But, A can mean Jaguar or Mitsubishi, while Audi can be R, as well.

The third digit says what kind of vehicle the number is tied to; a bus, truck, sedan, so on and so forth. Digits four through nine depend on the third, and carry specific information about the vehicle such as body style, and engine type.

All this information may not mean much to the ordinary buyer, but to the appraiser, it means they can decipher whether a vehicle’s been altered or in mint condition. This allows them to assess the value more accurately, and make an intelligent bid.