Find out what a VIN Number is, how it works and its history from DriverSide and the Car Care Council.
Most vehicle owners have had to reference their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at some point or another. Whether for the purpose of reporting insurance, registering a new car, requesting a vehicle history report or even as something as simple as registering for a parking pass; auto owners will inevitably encounter the long, confusing string of numbers and letters that comprise the VIN code.
Due to the amount of vehicles on the road today, the VIN number is more or less an invention of necessity. However, in the first half of the twentieth century, vehicle tracking was not as important; VIN numbers were only used for manufacturer records. Early VIN numbers typically identified simple characteristics such as car make, model and year, and were not mandatory.
Decoding a VIN number might seem like a daunting task given the complexity of the code and the staggering amount of vehicles that have been produced since its inception in 1980, but breaking a VIN number down into it’s basic parts makes the task much easier. Each VIN number is comprised of the following four sections: a world manufacturer’s identification (characters 1-3), a vehicle description section (characters 4-8), a VIN accuracy check digit (character 9), and an individual vehicle identification section (characters 10-17).