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What’s a Car’s VIN and Where Do I Find It?
December 15, 2020●
4 minute read●
Like humans, cars have an identification system. Every vehicle has its own unique identification number, more like fingerprints. This number can be used for a whole lot of purposes and it is crucial for car owners to know more about its significance.
What’s a VIN?
VIN is the acronym for Vehicle Identification Number. It consists of 17 digits and letters unique to a car and assigned by the manufacturer on the production line. It cannot be altered and is therefore different from registration number and other car codes. The VIN reveals a lot about the car, including its country of origin, model year, engine size and type.
Information in a VIN is organized in groups. The first group of three numbers form the world manufacturer identifier (WMI). The first number or letter in this set shows the manufacturing country. Your car’s VIN would be 1 if it was made in the US and 17 if made in Australia. The second letter represents the manufacturer’s name. For example, A for Audi and B for BMW. The third number represents the vehicle type, such as SUV or truck.
The next group of six characters give the vehicle’s description, model, body type, engine, transmission and number of doors. This is known as the Vehicle Description Section (VDS). It also includes a digit stating the year the car was made with a marker of the manufacturing plant.
The last six characters provide more personal details to specifically identify the vehicle. It is known as the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS) to identify the exact vehicle. It reveals everything from the year of production to the car’s original equipment. For example, comparing it to the human DNA code, if the first set of numbers tell that the human is a white Caucasian male, then this last part gives you specific attributes like eye colour, hair colour etc.
Why is VIN important?
Millions of cars are manufactured yearly and it is important to keep track and record of them. Every event, accident or repair a vehicle goes through is recorded with its VIN. VIN is extremely useful and can be used to unlock the history of a car, especially for those buying used cars. Once entered on the system, it reveals the original manufacturing details, the amount of repairs it has undergone and the purchase history of the car, so a buyer can be saved from being duped. New car owners can also keep this to build trust in the future, just in case they decide to sell off their car.
Another primary role of the VIN is protection against theft. The Vehicle Identification Number is etched on a car like its DNA and cannot be removed. Most times, this serve as the last means of identification for a stolen vehicle. Registration bodies in Australia keep track of every vehicle sold and registered in Australia. They come in handy during police investigations. It is also really difficult to sell a car that has been reported stolen. Used car dealerships search the VIN of a car to ensure it’s not stolen before purchasing.
VIN also helps you identify recalls. It logs on repairs to the vehicle and helps you see manufacturing recalls from the last 15 years. This information is updated frequently so it’s important to check often. Safety-related issues are also reported through the VIN.
Where can I find the VIN?
The VIN of a car can be found in the following locations;
Sit in the driver’s seat and look on the bottom corner of the dashboard, where the windshield wiper meets the shield. You may find it easier to locate standing outside the vehicle and viewing through the windshield.
- Infront of the engine block
You can also find the VIN etched on the front of the vehicle’s engine. Open the hood and look out for an affixed set of numbers attached to the firewall of the engine. Sometimes it is located on top of the radiator.
There’s a label on every car known as the Federal Safety Certification Label. This label is present either on the door post or inside the door jamb. The VIN is etched on this label. To see if it’s on the driver door post, open the door and check where it latches. For the one on the door jamb, check the inner wall of the B-pillar where the mirror is while the door is shut.
The VIN can sometimes be located under the spare tyre in the trunk. Be sure to also check here.
The Vehicle Identification Number can also be found inside the well of the driver’s side rear wheel.
Where else can I find the VIN asides the car?
- Check your registration card
The Vehicle Identification Number usually appears on the front of the registration card. You can contact the department of transports in your city if you do not have a registration card.
- Check the car’s insurance card
The VIN of a vehicle is needed to sign an insurance agreement, so do check your insurance card or policy. The VIN should be listed on the document.
- Check the compliance plate
The compliance plate is needed for every car to ensure its compliance with the Australian Design Rules. The plate is usually attached to the body of the car, usually around the firewall. The Vehicle Identification Number will be stamped on this plate.
The VIN usually appears on the owner’s manual. Your car’s manual should come with your newly purchased car, but this might not be the case if you bought a used car.
It’s important to check the authenticity of the VIN, and this can be done by passing it on the federal site. Schedule check-ins on your VIN yearly for recalls. Once you’ve identified your VIN, note it down in a safe place in case of car theft. Knowing your car’s VIN gives you confidence about your car’s history and helps you keep check on safety.
Written by Jacaranda Team