What Is a Vehicle Identification Number?

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Sometimes when you are driving and the glare of the sun hits the windshield just right a little placard, small, thin and long in a rectangular plate can be seen. Maybe you’re washing your vehicle and you notice a series of numbers on the upper portion of the driver’s side dashboard. Yes there are some who are well aware of what this is but for others they might seem just a bunch of useless numbers and letters.

For those not in the know, what you have found is your vehicle identification number, also known as a VIN number. All automobiles in the United States have these identification numbers and they are always located near the windshield of the drivers (left) side on a plate. The reason it is located there is to make it visible from the outside and in most cases even dashboard covers have a cut section to reveal the vehicles VIN number.

The VIN number is used to determine many things and is used as a means of, yep, you guessed it, identification for the car or truck. When acquiring auto insurance you will be asked to provide this number. This helps the auto insurance company determine numerous pieces of required information about the automobile you will be insuring.

The VIN number is also quite handy for a locksmith when determining and choosing which tools are necessary for the work at hand.

While there are some cases where the VIN number will be placed in a position other than the left hand side of the vehicle and many of the numbers and letters are random, the letters and numbers that are in positions one, two and ten (left to right reading) represent codes that identify the vehicles country of origin and the make and the model year of the car or truck.

For those curious to know what these numbers and letters mean, the list, while abbreviated, is as follows: Located in position one is the country of origin. Number one is for the U.S. Number two signifies Canada and number three is Mexico. Sometimes the letter J will be present and this represents Japan. Remember, it is not the make of the car and where the manufacturer is from it is where the car is built, hence the origins of the vehicle.

Position two is for the make of the vehicle. B means it is a Dodge, F is a Ford. It then reverts to numbers as follows, one is Chevrolet, two is Pontiac, three is for an Oldsmobile, four a Buick and five is the Cadillac.

Position ten using both numbers and letters, as well, represents the model year where T, V, W, X and Y signify the years 1996 thru 2000 respectively and the numbers one thru ten follow with the years 2001 thru 2009 with one being the lowest.

Next time you are out with friends and you want to have something to talk about that they might just not be aware of, see if you can’t impress them with your knowledge of the vehicle identification number.