Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN codes)/Overview

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Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) are used to uniquely identify motor vehicles. Prior to 1980 there was not an accepted standard for these numbers, so different manufacturers used different formats. Modern day VINs consist of 17 characters that do not include the letters I, O or Q.

Parts of the VIN[edit]

Modern Vehicle Identification Number systems are based on two related standards originally issued by the ISO in 1979 and 1980, ISO 3779 and ISO 3780, respectively. Compatible but somewhat different implementations of these ISO standards have been adopted by the European Union and the United States of America [1].

The VIN is composed of the following sections:

Standard 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
ISO 3779 WMI VDS VIS
North American / EU

> 500 vehicles / year

Manufacturer Identifier Vehicle Attributes Check Digit Model Year Plant Code Sequential Number
North American / EU

< 500 vehicles / year

Manufacturer Identifier Vehicle Attributes Check Digit Model Year Plant Code Manufacturer Identifier Sequential Number

Vehicle Descriptor Section[edit]

The 4th through 9th positions in the VIN are the Vehicle Descriptor Section or VDS. This is used, according to local regulations, to identify the vehicle type and may include information on the platform used, the model, and the body style. Each manufacturer has a unique system for using this field. Most manufacturers since the 1980s have used the 8th digit to identify the engine type whenever there is more than one engine choice for the vehicle. Example: for the 2007 Chevrolet Corvette U= 6.0L V8, E= 7.0L V8.

North American Check Digits[edit]

Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN codes)/Check digit

See also[edit]

References[edit]