Automatic VIN Decoder – What do those letters and numbers mean?
An automatic VIN decoder breaks down the unique alphanumeric sequence known as a vehicle identification number, which is the fingerprint of a car. Each and every car on the road has its own 17-character VIN, and it is this identification number that is used to generate a Vehicle History Report, also known as a VIN verification.
VIN verification leverages millions of DMV records and reveals all available history for a particular vehicle, including hidden issues, odometer readings, ownership transfers, and more. It is an absolute must for used car buyers as it tells you everything you need to know about the vehicle.
The automatic VIN decoder can help you understand what these letters and numbers mean, which is the first step in ensuring that the vehicle you are considering is right for you.
Let’s take a look at the vehicle identification number, starting with the first character. (Note that the letter “I” as in indigo, the letter “O” as in orange, and the letter “Q” as in queen are NOT found in any VIN number).
(We will use the following VIN as an example: 2FTRX18W1XCA01212)
The first character represents the country of manufacture and can be a letter or a number, each of which signifies a different country. The most common are the following:
(1 = USA, 2 = Canada, 3 = Mexico, J = Japan, K = Korea, W = Germany, Y = Finland, Sweden)
So using the Auto VIN decoder in the example above, this particular car was made in Canada.
The second / third characters represent the manufacturer, also known as the brand. The most common are:
(A = Alfa Romeo, B = Dodge, C = Chrysler, D = Daihatsu, E = Eagle, F = Ford / Eagle, G = All General Motors vehicles (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn)
H = Honda / Acura, J = Jeep, L = Lincoln, M = Mitsubishi, N = Nissan / Infiniti, P = Plymouth, S = Subaru, T = Toyota / Lexus, V = Volkswagen)
So using the Auto VIN decoder in the example above, this car is either a Ford or an Eagle … since the Eagle is no longer made, it is most likely a Ford.
Other popular brands use a 3-character starting sequence:
(TRU / WAU = Audi, 4US / WBA / WBS = BMW, 2HM / KMH = Hyundai, SAJ = Jaguar, SAL = Land Rover, 1YV / JM1 = Mazda, WDB = Mercedes-Benz, VF3 = Peugeot, WP0 = Porsche, YK1 / YS3 = Saab, YV1 = Volvo)
The fourth character is the type of restraint system.
In the example above, “R” represents hydraulic pauses using the VIN decoder.
The fifth, sixth, and seventh characters are the vehicle line, series, and body style. Obviously, this will be different depending on the makes and models.
In the example above, the characters 5, 6 and 7 are X18: X18 is a Ford F150 Pickup 4WD Super Cab
The eighth character is the engine type.
With the Auto VIN decoder, W represents a 4.6-liter V-8 engine.
The tenth character represents the year of the car. Pay close attention to this:
B = 1981 F = 1985 K = 1989 P = 1993 V = 1997 1 = 2001
C = 1982 G = 1986 L = 1990 R = 1994 W = 1998 2 = 2002
D = 1983 H = 1987 M = 1991 S = 1995 X = 1999 3 = 2003
E = 1984 J = 1988 N = 1992 T = 1996 Y = 2000 4 = 2004
For the most recent model year used, 5 = 2005
In the example above, the “X” indicates that this car was manufactured in 1999.
The eleventh character indicates the assembly plant.
In the example above, the C indicates Ontario, Canada
Characters 12-17 represent the unique fingerprint of the vehicle. It is these six digits that make every vehicle in the world different.
So, using the automatic VIN decoder for the last time, the vehicle identification number: 2FTRX18W1XCA01212 represents a 1999 Ford F150 Pickup 4WD Super Cab made in Ontario, Canada, with hydraulic brakes and a 4.6-liter V-8 engine.
There you have it, the automatic VIN decoder. If you are looking for a used vehicle, use this decoder to make sure it is the exact model the seller claims it to be. Once you have verified that the vehicle identification number is correct, you can proceed with your VIN verification and learn everything you need to know about that particular car.