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How to read a VIN​

1st character- Identifies the country in which the vehicle was manufactured.
For example: U.S.A.(1or 4), Canada(2), Mexico(3), Japan(J), Korea(K), England(S), Germany(W), Italy(Z)

2nd character- Identifies the manufacturer. For example; Audi(A),
BMW(B), Buick(4), Cadillac(6), Chevrolet(1), Chrysler(C), Dodge(B),
Ford(F), GM Canada(7), General Motors(G), Honda(H), Jaquar(A), Lincoln(L), Mercedes Benz(D), Mercury(M), Nissan(N), Oldsmobile(3), Pontiac(2or5), Plymouth(P), Saturn(8), Toyota(T), VW(V), Volvo(V).

3rd character- Identifies vehicle type or manufacturing division.

4th to 8th characters- VDS - Vehicle Descriptor Section. These 5 characters occupy positions 4 through 8 of the VIN and may be used by the manufacturer to identify attributes of the vehicle. Identifies vehicle features such as body style, engine type, model, series, etc.

9th Character - The check digit "character or digit 9" in the sequence of a vehicle identification number (VIN) built beginning with model year 1981 (when the 17 character digit format was established) can best be described as identifying the VIN accuracy.

A check digit shall be part of each vin (since 1981) and shall appear in position
nine (9) of the VIN on the vehicle and on any transfer documents containing
the vin prepared by the manufacturer to be given to the first owner for purposes
other than resale. Thus, the vins of any two vehicles manufactured within a 30
year period shall not be identical. The check digit means a single number or letter
"x" used to verify the accuracy of the transcription of the vehicle identification

After all other characters in the VIN have been determined by the manufacturer
the check digit is calculated by carrying out a mathematical computation
specified. This is based on vin position, sample vin, assigned value code,
weight factor and multiply assigned value times weight factors. The values are added and the total is divided by 11. The remainder is the check digit number.
The correct numeric remainder - zero through nine (0-9) will appear.
However, if the remainder is 10 the letter "X" is used to designate the check
digit value/number.

10th character- Identifies the model year. For example: 1988(J), 1989(K), 1990(L), 1991(M), 1992(N), 1993(P), 1994(R), 1995(S), 1996(T),
1997(V), 1998(W), 1999(X), 2000(Y)------2001(1), 2002(2), 2003(3)

11th character- Identifies the assembly plant for the vehicle.

12th to 17th characters- VIS - Vehicle Identifier Section. The last 8 characters of the VIN are used for the identification a of specific vehicle. The last four characters shall always be numeric. Identifies the sequence of the vehicle for production as it rolled off the manufacturers assembly line.

Parts of the VIN​

Modern Vehicle Identification Number systems are based on two related standards originally issued by the ISO in 1979 and 1980, ISO 3779 and ISO 3780, respectively. Compatible but somewhat different implementations of these ISO standards have been adopted by the European Union and the United States of America [1].

The VIN is composed of the following sections:
Standard 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
North American

> 500 vehicles / year
Manufacturer Identifier Vehicle Attributes Check Digit Model Year Plant Code Sequential Number
North American

< 500 vehicles / year
Manufacturer Identifier Vehicle Attributes Check Digit Model Year Plant Code Manufacturer Identifier Sequential Number

World Manufacturer Identifier

The first three characters uniquely identify the manufacturer of the vehicle using the World Manufacturer Identifier or WMI code. A manufacturer that builds fewer than 500 vehicles per year uses a 9 as the third digit and the 12th, 13th and 14th position of the VIN for a second part of the identification. Some manufacturers use the third character as a code for a vehicle category (e.g., bus or truck), a division within a manufacturer, or both. For example, within 1G (assigned to General Motors in the United States), 1G1 represents Chevrolet passenger cars; 1G2, Pontiac passenger cars; and 1GC, Chevrolet trucks.

WMI Regions

The first character of the WMI is the region in which the manufacturer is located. In practice, each is assigned to a country of manufacture. Common auto-manufacturing countries are noted.
WMI Region Notes
A-H Africa AA-AH = South Africa
J-R Asia J = Japan
KL-KR = South Korea
L = China
MA-ME = India
MF-MK = Indonesia
ML-MR = Thailand
PA-PE = Philippines
PL-PR = Malaysia
S-Z Europe SA-SM = United Kingdom
SN-ST, W = Germany
SU-SZ = Poland
TA-TH = Switzerland
TJ-TP = Czech Republic
TR-TV = Hungary
VA-VE = Austria
VF-VR = France
VS-VW = Spain
VX-V2 = Yugoslavia
XL = The Netherlands
X3-X0 = Russia
YA-YE = Belgium
YF-YK = Finland
YS-YW = Sweden
ZA-ZR = Italy
1-5 North America 1, 4, 5 = United States
2 = Canada
3 = Mexico
6-7 Oceania 6A-6W = Australia
7A-7E = New Zealand
8-0 South America 8A-8E = Argentina
8F-8J = Chile
8X-82 = Venezuela
9A-9E, 93-99 = Brazil
9F-9J = Colombia

List of common WMIs

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the US assigns WMIs to countries and manufacturers. The following table contains a list of commonly used WMIs, although there are many others assigned.
WMI Manufacturer
A3 Mitsubishi
HD Harley-Davidson
JA Isuzu
JF Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru)
JH Honda
JK Kawasaki (motorcycles)
JM Mazda
JN Nissan
JS Suzuki
JT Toyota
KL Daewoo General Motors South Korea
KM8 Hyundai
KMH Hyundai
KNM Renault Samsung
L56 Renault Samsung
LSY Brilliance Zhonghua
LTV Toyota Tian Jin
LVS Ford Chang An
LZE Isuzu Guangzhou
MA3 Suzuki India
SAL Land Rover
SAJ Jaguar
SCC Lotus Cars
SHS Honda UK
SJN Nissan UK
SDB Peugeot UK
TMB Škoda
TMT Tatra
TRA Ikarus Bus
TRU Audi Hungary
TSM Suzuki, (Hungary)
UU1 Dacia, (Romania)
VF1 Renault
VF3 Peugeot
VF7 Citroën
VSX Opel Spain
VS6 Ford Spain
VSG Nissan Spain
VSE Suzuki Spain (Santana Motors)
VWV Volkswagen Spain
WAU Audi
WDB Mercedes-Benz
WDC DaimlerChrysler
WF0 Ford Germany
WP0 Porsche
W0L Opel
WVW Volkswagen
WV1 Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
WV2 Volkswagen Bus/Van
XTA Lada/AutoVaz (Russia)
YK1 Saab
YS3 Saab
YV1 Volvo Cars
YV2 Volvo Trucks
YV3 Volvo Buse
ZAM Maserati Biturbo
ZAP Piaggio Vespa
ZCG Cagiva SpA
ZDM Ducati Motor Holdings SpA
ZDF Ferrari Dino
ZFA Fiat
ZFF Ferrari
1FA Ford Motor Company
1FB Ford Motor Company
1FC Ford Motor Company
1FD Ford Motor Company
1FM Ford Motor Company
1FT Ford Motor Company
1FU Freightliner
1FV Freightliner
1F9 FWD Corp.
1G General Motors USA
1GC Chevrolet USA
1GT General Motors USA
1G6 Cadillac USA
1G2 Pontiac USA
1GM Pontiac USA
1H Honda USA
1L Lincoln USA
1ME Mercury USA
1M1 Mack Truck USA
1M2 Mack Truck USA
1M3 Mack Truck USA
1M4 Mack Truck USA
1R9 Roadrunner Hay Squeeze USA
1N Nissan USA
1VW Volkswagen USA
1XK Kenworth USA
1XP Peterbilt USA
1YV Mazda USA
2FA Ford Motor Company Canada
2FB Ford Motor Company Canada
2FC Ford Motor Company Canada
2FM Ford Motor Company Canada
2FT Ford Motor Company Canada
2FU Freightliner
2FV Freightliner
2G General Motors Canada
2G1 Chevrolet Canada
2G2 Pontiac Canada
2HG Honda Canada
2HK Honda Canada
2HM Hyundai Canada
2M Mercury
2T Toyota Canada
2WK Western Star
2WL Western Star
2WM Western Star
3FE Ford Motor Company Mexico
3G General Motors Mexico
3H Honda Mexico
3N Nissan Mexico
3VW Volkswagen Mexico
4F Mazda USA
4M Mercury
4S Subaru-Isuzu Automotive
4T Toyota
4UZ Frt-Thomas Bus
4V1 Volvo
4V2 Volvo
4V3 Volvo
4V4 Volvo
4V5 Volvo
4V6 Volvo
4VL Volvo
4VM Volvo
4VZ Volvo
5F Honda USA-Alabama
5L Lincoln
5N1 Nissan USA
5NP Hyundai USA
5T Toyota USA - trucks
6F Ford Motor Company Australia
6G2 Pontiac Australia (GTO)
6H General Motors-Holden
6MM Mitsubishi Motors Australia
6T1 Toyota Motor Corporation Australia
8AG Chevrolet Argentina
8GG Chevrolet Chile
8AP Fiat Argentina
8AF Ford Motor Company Argentina
8AD Peugeot Argentina
8GD Peugeot Chile
8A1 Renault Argentina
8AK Suzuki Argentina
8AJ Toyota Argentina
8AW Volkswagen Argentina
93V Audi Brazil
9BG Chevrolet Brazil
935 Citroën Brazil
9BD Fiat Brazil
9BF Ford Motor Company Brazil
93H Honda Brazil
9BM Mercedes-Benz Brazil
9BS Scania Brazil
93Y Renault Brazil
UU1 Renault-Dacia Romania-Pitesti
93R Toyota Brazil
9BW Volkswagen Brazil

Vehicle Descriptor Section

The 4th through 9th positions in the VIN are the Vehicle Descriptor Section or VDS. This is used, according to local regulations, to identify the vehicle type and may include information on the platform used, the model, and the body style. Each manufacturer has a unique system for using this field.

North American Check Digits

One element that is fairly consistent is the use of position 9 as a check digit, compulsory for vehicles in North America and used fairly consistently even outside this rule.

Vehicle Identifier Section

The 10th through 17th positions are used as the Vehicle Identifier Section or VIS. This is used by the manufacturer to identify the individual vehicle in question. This may include information on options installed or engine and transmission choices, but often is a simple sequential number. In fact, in North America, the last five digits must be numeric.

North American Model Year

One consistent element of the VIS is character number 10, which is required (in North America) to encode the model year of the vehicle.

North American Plant Code

Another consistently-used element (which is compulsory in North America) is the use of the 11th character to encode the factory of manufacture of the vehicle. Although each manufacturer has their own set of plant codes, their location in the VIN is standardized.

Model year encoding

Besides the three letters that are not allowed in the VIN itself (I, O and Q), the letters U and Z and the digit 0 are not used for the year code. Note that the year code can be the calendar year in which a vehicle is built, or a model or type year allocated by the manufacturer. The year 1980 is encoded as "A", and subsequent years increment through the allowed letters, so that "Y" represents the year 2000. 2001 through 2009 are encoded as the digits 1 through 9, and subsequent years are encoded as "A", "B", "C", etc.
Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year
A 1980 L 1990 Y 2000 A 2010
B 1981 M 1991 1 2001 B 2011
C 1982 N 1992 2 2002 C 2012
D 1983 P 1993 3 2003 D 2013
E 1984 R 1994 4 2004 E 2014
F 1985 S 1995 5 2005 F 2015
G 1986 T 1996 6 2006 G 2016
H 1987 V 1997 7 2007 H 2017
J 1988 W 1998 8 2008 J 2018
K 1989 X 1999 9 2009 K 2019

Check Digit Calculation

Firstly, find the numerical value associated with each letter in the VIN. (I, O and Q are not allowed.) Numerical digits use their own values.
A: 1 J: 1
B: 2 K: 2 S: 2
C: 3 L: 3 T: 3
D: 4 M: 4 U: 4
E: 5 N: 5 V: 5
F: 6 W: 6
G: 7 P: 7 X: 7
H: 8 Y: 8
R: 9 Z: 9

Secondly, look up the weight factor for each position in the VIN except the 9th (the position of the check digit).
1st: ×8 5th: ×4 10th: ×9 14th: ×5
2nd: ×7 6th: ×3 11th: ×8 15th: ×4
3rd: ×6 7th: ×2 12th: ×7 16th: ×3
4th: ×5 8th: ×10 13th: ×6 17th: ×2

Thirdly, multiply the numbers and the numerical values of the letters by their assigned weight factor, and sum the resulting products. Divide the sum of the products by 11. The remainder is the check digit. If the remainder is 10, the check digit is the letter X. Valid check digits also run through the numbers zero to 9.

Worked example

Consider the hypothetical VIN 1M8GDM9A_KP042788, where the underscore will be the check digit.

VIN: 1 M 8 G D M 9 A _ K P 0 4 2 7 8 8
Value: 1 4 8 7 4 4 9 1 0 2 7 0 4 2 7 8 8
Weight: 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 10 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Products: 8 28 48 35 16 12 18 10 0 18 56 0 24 10 28 24 16

The sum of all 16 products is 351. Dividing by 11 gives a remainder of 10, so the check digit is "X" and the complete VIN is 1M8GDM9AXKP042788.
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