How to decrypt the VIN of a car

As the number of cars increased in cities, the need for vehicle accounting and control grew. First, they introduced the registration of vehicles and the assignment of license plates. Then there were more and more cars, and such accounting was no longer effective enough, then the cars began to be assigned individual identification numbers, in which the manufacturer encodes the main important information about the vehicle. How to decipher the VIN code, what it is, we will tell later in the article.

VIN code of a car – what is it?

The abbreviated name VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, which means the identification number of the vehicle. For all cars, the code consists of the same number of characters (17), and Arabic numerals and Latin letters are used for coding (except for I, Q, O, similar to the numbers 1 and 0). Different countries and different manufacturers use their own set of letters and numbers in the VIN code.

How to decrypt the VIN code of the car

The code is conventionally divided into three groups. Each group contains encrypted data about the manufacturer, configuration, and characteristics of the car.

  • WMI – the first three symbols of the code;
  • VDS – symbols 4 to 9;
  • VIS – from 10 to 17.

The same digit can be used in different VIN code groups, however, it will contain different information about the vehicle.


WMI is an international manufacturer index, which encodes information about the geographical location and country of origin of the car. The first character of this part of the code, as a rule, indicates the continent:

  • numbers 1-5 – countries of North America
  • numbers 6-7 – Oceania;
  • numbers 8-9 – countries of South America;
  • the letters A-H indicate belonging to Africa;
  • letters J-R – countries of Asia;
  • letters S-Z – Europe.

The second character indicates the country of the brand. Exact decoding is possible only by a combination of the first two characters. And the third character of the VIN code, taking into account geographic affiliation and country, indicates the automaker.

There are times when a manufacturer uses a third character to indicate the body type of a vehicle.


VDS – descriptive part of the code, which contains a description of the car model. In the decryption of the descriptor, you can get the following data:

  • model;
  • body type;
  • equipment;
  • type of engine and its characteristics;
  • security systems.

The ninth character of the VIN code for most cars is a control one. Its function is to protect the uniqueness of the code. The letter Z in the ninth place of the identification number indicates that the manufacturer did not use it in the encoding.


The last group of characters in the VIN code is used to identify the car. The 10 character here almost always indicates the model year, the 11 character indicates the country of the assembly plant, and the characters from 12 to 17 are, in fact, an individual (serial) number

A simple way to decrypt the VIN of a car

Only experienced specialists can read information by VIN code without the help of a decryptor. How to decipher the VIN code of a car if you do not have such experience? To check the VIN number, you can use a special VIN decoderĀ With the help of this service, you can get all the basic information on the vehicle for free. In addition, this tool has the option of checking a specific brand of car. For example, to check a car of one of the most popular German brands Volkswagen, you can use the Volkswagen VIN decoder atĀ the link.

What can be learned from the decoding of the VIN number

From the decoding of the VIN code, you can get a complete report on the brand, basic configuration, and vehicle characteristics. However, knowing the VIN code, today the driver has the opportunity to find out the entire history of the vehicle, starting from the moment it was released from the assembly line:

  • sales history;
  • mileage;
  • service history;
  • features of operation;
  • data on participation in an accident;
  • damage, including non-repairable;
  • restoration, repairs;
  • status (theft, bail, arrest, scrap, etc.)

All this data will be useful when buying a used car from your hands. The check allows you to identify an attempt to falsify the VIN number, hidden problems in the technical condition or history of the car. This is a kind of insurance against fraud and loss of funds.

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