VIN Number Look Up - What can a VIN tell about a car?

VINs have been used by automakers since 1954. However, it was not until 1981 that the ISO standardized VIN format and obliged all the manufacturers to use this 17-character code to identify each vehicle. Prior to 1981, manufacturers used their own formats, which varied in length and value of the symbols. That’s why vehicles of different makes could have the same VINs.

VIN info can be especially valuable when considering a used car. Here is the basic information about a vehicle that a VIN number look up can reveal.

VIN Number Lookup - What Can a VIN Tell about Your Vehicle

Country of Origin

The first symbol of the VIN code is used to identify the country of the vehicle’s origin. It may be represented either by letter or digit. For instance, W means Germany, and 6 means Australia. In European vehicles, the first character of the VIN is sometimes used for the identification of the manufacturer’s headquarters’ location.


The second character reveals the manufacturer of your vehicle. For example, F means Ford, and J means Honda.

If your vehicle was built by one automaker and marketed by another, this character will still tell who built the vehicle.

Division or Brand

The third character of the VIN identifies the manufacturer’s division or brand.

Body Style, Engine, Transmission, Platform, and More

Characters four through eight reveal information about different features of the vehicle, such as body style, platform, horsepower, engine, and transmission. This VIN number information will help you find out if the car’s equipment has been changed.

Model Year

The tenth character identifies the model year. For example, Y means 2000, 1 mean 2001, and 5 means 2005. However, the model year is not the same as the production year, because many automakers start building models a year before they introduce it to the market.

Assembly Plant

The eleventh character identifies the assembly plant where your vehicle was built. The value of this character varies depending on the manufacturer.

Serial Number

Characters twelve through seventeen represent the serial or production number of a car. It is used to identify your particular car.

Our service allows you to get full vehicle specifications by VIN.