6 Things You May Not Have Known About Your Vehicle’s VIN Number

6 Things You May Not Have Known About Your Vehicle’s VIN Number

Your car’s VIN number is unique. While most of us understand that the VIN number found on our vehicles’ is used for tracking and record keeping, there are several interesting facts about these numbers that are not so commonly known.

1. The VIN is a series of 17 alpha-numeric characters used to track everything related to that automobile, including insurance coverage, warranty claims, thefts, recalls, and registrations.

2. The practice of labeling vehicles individually began in Detroit in the 1950’s, in an effort to accurately describe vehicles as they began to be produced on a large scale. It wasn’t until 1981 that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration effectively required all automobile manufacturers to provide a fixed-format, 17 digit identification number for every motor vehicle, trailer, motorcycle, and moped that was produced.

3. While many assume that VIN numbers are simply assigned sequentially, this is not the case. Each digit in you’re the number serves a specific purpose. For example, the first character of the number identifies what country the automobile was manufactured in. If the vehicle were produced in the United States, the first digit would be a 1 or 4. Japanese vehicles’ VINs begin with a J, Korea with a K, Germany with a G, and so on.

4. Every digit in the 17 character series is similarly coded for a different purpose. One digit specifies the manufacturer, while another describes the model of the automobile. One digit shows the automobile type, while another specifies the body style, and yet another digit identifies the engine type used for that particular model.

5. Most people are aware of the VIN on their dash. This is the most commonly used location, as it is easily viewable. However, there are several other places on your vehicle where the VIN may be found. While secondary locations vary by manufacturer, some locations are much more common than others. Most automobiles will have the number printed under the hood and/or on the front of the engine block. Some older vehicles will have it between the windshield washer unit and the front cab. Other places to find your VIN include under the spare tire, the back wheel well, or on the inside of the door jamb on the driver’s side door.

6. It is possible to get copies of your keys made from the VIN alone. This is to allow key makers to create copies of the key when it is locked in the automobile. Some people are afraid that car thieves can walk up to a car, copy the number down, and order a key for your car. While this is technically true, most key makers require presentation of the title, registration, and/or picture identification under these circumstances.