A vehicle identification number (VIN) is the 17-digit “name,” made up of numbers and characters, that an automobile manufacturer assigns to an individual vehicle. Vehicle identification numbers can reveal many things about automobiles, including their airbag type, country of origin, engine size, model year, vehicle type, trim level, and plant name. The VIN (sometimes known, redundantly, as the “VIN number”) is the key to safety. Just enter a VIN in the free search tool from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see whether a vehicle is subject to a recall.
Typically, the vehicle identification number is stamped into a plate that’s mounted on the dashboard near the windshield or the driver-side doorjamb. It’s also stamped on the engine’s firewall.
What Goes Into a VIN?
VIN information is organized in groups, and a search of your vehicle identification number can tell you a lot about your car. There’s even a bit of fraud detection in the VIN, in the form of the “check digit,” described below.
The first group of three numbers and letters in a VIN make up the world manufacturer identifier (WMI).