What Is VIN Decoder?

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VIN Decoder Tool

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a great tool called VIN Decoder that allows you to look up vehicle VIN numbers. The VIN Decoder tool is absolutely free for you to use.

Check it out here.

The current version is 2.2.2 and was last updated 11-27-2017.

If you want to check the release notes, you can do so here.

The Department Of Vehicles (DMV) also has a Decoder for VIN numbers. The DMV Decoder tool can be accessed here.

Why decode a VIN number? Well, there’s a few legal reasons why someone may want to look up a vehicle identification number. I knew a friends who did this all the time. They would go out and look for classic cars. To make sure their antique cars were what they’re were being told, they would use a decoder tool to get the VIN.

VIN Decoding

Some people may think that VINs are just random numbers, but that’s not the case. In fact, each section of your VIN code is important.

DMV VIN Tool

As you can see above, each section of your VIN tells a specific fact about the vehicle you’re looking up. There’s a total of 7 sections that your VIN explains as the DMV shows us above.

Model Year Character Codes

As shown above in the image, the 10th character of the VIN indicates theĀ model year for the vehicle you’re looking up..

  • A: 1980 or 2010
  • B: 1981 or 2011
  • C: 1982 or 2012
  • D: 1983 or 2013
  • E: 1984 or 2014
  • F: 1985 or 2015
  • G: 1986 or 2016
  • H: 1987 or 2017
  • J: 1988 or 2018
  • K: 1989 or 2019
  • L: 1990 or 2020
  • M: 1991
  • N: 1992
  • P: 1993
  • R: 1994
  • S: 1995
  • T: 1996
  • V: 1997
  • W: 1998
  • X: 1999
  • Y: 2000
  • 1: 2001
  • 2: 2002
  • 3: 2003
  • 4: 2004
  • 5: 2005
  • 6: 2006
  • 7: 2007
  • 8: 2008
  • 9: 2009

Where Is The VIN Number?

Although different vehicles have different locations for their VIN, most of them can be found on the right bottom of the window seal. Don’t forget, there’s a few more places where you can find your VIN.

  • Registration Card
  • Insurance Cards/Papers
  • Vehicle Title
  • Owner’s Manual