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What Does Each Digit in a VIN Mean?

Each digit in your vehicle's VIN holds key information, from its birthplace to its unique features. Our latest post demystifies this automotive enigma, guiding you through the significance of these 17 characters.

Arnold Puidokas

Arnold Puidokas, Author

Link to author profileNovember 1, 2023

Understanding the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on your vehicle can seem like decoding a complex cipher. However, each digit in this 17-character number has a specific meaning that reveals important information about your vehicle. In this blog post, we'll break down what each digit in a VIN represents, making it easier for you to understand the identity and history of your car.

Introduction to VIN

A VIN is a unique code assigned to every motor vehicle when it's manufactured. It serves as the vehicle’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same VIN. This code is used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage.

The Structure of a VIN

A VIN is made up of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) and is divided into three sections: the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI), the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS), and the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS).

VIN Decoder

1. World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) - Digits 1-3

  • Digit 1: Indicates the country where the vehicle was manufactured.
  • Digits 2 and 3: Represent the manufacturer and division.

2. Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS) - Digits 4-9

  • Digits 4-8: Provide information about the vehicle model, engine type, body style, and the auto platform used.
  • Digit 9: A check digit used to validate the VIN.

3. Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS) - Digits 10-17

  • Digit 10: Indicates the model year of the vehicle.
  • Digit 11: Represents the plant where the vehicle was assembled.
  • Digits 12-17: Are the vehicle’s serial or production number.

How to Use This Information

Knowing what each digit of your VIN means can be incredibly useful. For instance, if you’re buying a used car, the VIN can help you verify the car’s history, check for recalls, and understand the specifications. It’s also useful for ordering parts and accessories that are specific to your vehicle's make, model, and year.


The VIN is a treasure trove of information about your vehicle. By understanding what each digit represents, you can unlock detailed information about where your car was made, its specifications, and even its history. This knowledge is invaluable for both car enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike, offering a deeper understanding and a greater connection to your vehicle.

Whether you’re verifying the authenticity of a car, researching its history, or simply curious about what these numbers and letters mean, the VIN tells a story - and now you know how to read it.