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The first character of the VIN indicates the country in which the vehicle was manufactured. VIN’s starting with 1, 4, and 5 are manufactured in the United States. The third number or letter is used by the vehicle manufacturer to identify what kind of vehicle it is: car, truck, bus, etc. The 10th character of the VIN indicates the model year.

Digit 1: Country of Origin

The first digit specifies where the vehicle was manufactured. Here are the most common country codes and countries:

1 – United States (1, 4 and 5)
2 – Canada
3 – Mexico
4 – Foreign vehicle made in the US
9 – Brazil J
Japan W
Germany S
England L
Taiwan K
Korea Y
Sweden V
Europe Z

    Digits 2-3: Manufacturer

    The second digit identifies the specific vehicle’s manufacturer. It’s often the first letter of the manufacturer’s name, such as G for General Motors vehicles.

    Since some characters can stand for multiple manufacturers, the third digit combines with the first two to indicate the specific manufacturing division. For example, JM1 can designate Mazda, while JMB can designate Mitsubishi. The first three digits together are known as the World Manufacturer Identifier.

    Here are some of the commonly used second digits:

    A – Audi
    B – BMW
    C – Chrysler
    F – Ford
    G – General Motors (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Buick)
    H – Honda
    L – Lincoln
    N – Nissan
    V – Volkswagen

    Digits 4-8: Vehicle Descriptor

    These characters identify specific details about the car’s vehicle type.

    • Digit 4: Safety features and information specific to the model
    • Digit 5: The vehicle’s series
    • Digits 6 & 7: Bodystyle and body type
    • Digit 8: Engine size

    Digit 9: Security Code

    The ninth digit is the check digit, which is a security code used to help detect incorrect VINs, based on US Department of Transportation guidelines.

    Digit 10: Model Year

    The tenth digit represents the vehicle’s model year. A Vin to Year chart is included below.

    • 1981-2000: Designated by the letters B through Y, with the letters I, O, Q, U and Z excluded.
    • 2001-2009: Designated by the numbers 1 through 9 indicate the model years 2001 through 2009.
    • 2010-Present: In 2010, the alphabet cycle started again with A and will continue through the year 2030. In 2031, the number cycle of 1 through 9 will start again until 2039.

    Vin To Year Chart:

    Digit 11: Manufacturing Plant

    The eleventh digit indicates the vehicle’s assembly plant. Each vehicle manufacturer has its own set of plant codes. For example, these are the VIN characters for some of Toyota’s many manufacturing plants: R for Lafayette, Indiana; S for Princeton, Indiana; and U for Georgetown, Kentucky.

    Digits 12-17: Production Serial Numbers These ending digits are the production line numbers that represent the vehicle’s unique production or serial number. (Digits 10-17 are collectively known as the Vehicle Identifier Section.)