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HomeFeatured ArticlesDecoding VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) | Explained in Detail

Decoding VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) | Explained in Detail

Your car for you is one of its kind. Irrespective of the thousands of cars similar to the make and model of your car prevailing on the roads, still your car is unique for you. So in a world where there are many other cars with a similar make, model and even the same colour as your car, how would you tell yours apart in a tricky situation?

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VIN & Engine Number on a Car
VIN & Engine Number on a Car

Normally, you would simply look at the license plate of your car in such a situation. Imagine being in a situation where your car is stolen and the authorities find a car matching the MO of your car. Unfortunately, the thugs probably have got rid of the license plate. How can you be sure that it’s your car?

The way we have UIDs (Unique Identity Number) like Aadhaar numbers being the Citizen of this country, the car world also follows a similar system. Each and every vehicle you see on the road comes with an identification number which is unique to every single vehicle. This 17-digit number is the VIN or Vehicle Identification Number.

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What is a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

Honda City VIN Number Location on the Driver Side
Honda City VIN Number Location on the Driver Side

The 17-digit number Bolted or embossed on specific areas of your vehicle is known as a VIN number. This number gives your car a legitimate identity which is unique to your vehicle. No two VIN numbers will ever be the same and every vehicle in the world since 1981 that rolls off the factory line comes with a VIN.

This 17-digit code isn’t just a random series of characters put together for a reason. Each character positioned in a particular manner gives a lot of information about the particular vehicle at hand.

What is the importance of a VIN?

2017 Honda City VIN Number Location
2017 Honda City VIN Number Location

All of the Seventeen characters in the VIN number give out information like the Country in which the car was manufactured, year of manufacture, vehicle type, engine type, etc.

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This information is helpful in a lot of ways:

  • Each VIN number is unique, so it helps you track down your car, in case you need to
  • While buying a used car, you can check the authenticity of the vehicle by looking at the database of the car through the VIN number
  • You can check for the originality of the car’s engine by matching it to the VIN
  • It is an important insurance assessment of the car
  • To be certain about the model year of the car

Basically, a VIN number is like proof of identity for any car and is a standard followed by all the manufacturers around the world.

Where would I find the VIN on my vehicle?

Where to find your car VIN
Where to find your car VIN

VIN for cars and commercial vehicles

For cars and commercial vehicles, VIN numbers are usually found on the driver side door pillars, Front of the dashboard looking through the windshield and also under the hood on a side on the engine bay as well.

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VIN for motorcycles

For motorcycles, the VIN number is mostly found on the steering neck or near the bike’s motor.

VIN for scooters

The VIN number on scooters can be found inside the glove box or seat bucket, near the centre stand, beneath the dashboard or printed on the frame.

De-Coding the VIN

Decode a Car VIN
Decode a Car VIN

From position one to seventeen, all the characters in the VIN are dedicated to a particular type of information which is mostly standard for all vehicles and manufacturers. What particular number tells what exactly and how you can decode it, let’s find out.

First character position

The first character in the VIN tells you about the country in which the vehicle is built. It can be a digit or a couple of alphabets or a combination of both. For example, any vehicle built in India will have VIN beginning from MA-ME, MZ and in South American countries like Brazil, it begins from 9A-9E.

First three characters

The combination of the first three characters in the VIN is commonly known as the WMI or world manufacturer identifier which helps in identifying the manufacturer of the vehicle. In some cases, the third character only denotes the manufacturer and also in some cases, the third character denotes the type of the vehicle(car, bus or truck). The first three letters also denote the division of the manufacturer in which the vehicle is produced.

Fourth to Ninth character position

This section of the VIN represents the Vehicle Description Section (VDS). All the characters falling in this section give information such as vehicle type, the platform on which it is built, model, body type, engine type. Mostly all manufacturers choose different positions for different information in this section. However, the eight positions is commonly used for denoting the engine type.

The ninth character could either represent the security code or in some cases the month in which the car was manufactured.

Tenth character position

The Tenth Character mostly represents the year of manufacture for the Vehicle. It is denoted by an alphabet assigned to each particular year since 1981.

Eleventh character position

If you want to know the manufacturing year of the car, take a look at the eleventh character. It also tells about the plant where the car was manufactured.

Twelfth to Seventeenth character position

The last six positions on the VIN are reserved for the serial number which is unique to the vehicle. This acts as the second crucial part of identification for the car.

VIN number is the most essential code you’ll find on your car and is your car’s individual identity. Head towards your car, find the VIN number and try to decode and understand it.

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Vaibhav Arora
Vaibhav Arorahttps://gomechanic.in/blog
Content Developer at GoMechanic | Auto Journalist | Been a car guy ever since i remember opening my eyes | Golden Age for cars is long gone | Guilty of hooning out on the streets |


  1. You have to be very careful when buying a used car. After all, the past owner could be an unscrupulous person. The car you want to buy could have been in an accident, its owner could have twisted the mileage, and so on. So always ask for a vin report check. Otherwise, you might buy a coffin on wheels.


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