The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-character identification composed of letters and digits. This number is unique throughout the world. The objective of this procedure is to show you how to understand the principles of vehicle identification numbers and correctly identify the components that make up a vehicle identification number.
Part 1. Preparation and safety
- Understand the principles of vehicle identification numbers and correctly identify the components that make up a vehicle identification number.
Whenever you perform a task in the workshop you must use personal protective clothing and equipment that is appropriate for the task and which conforms to your local safety regulations and policies. Among other items, this may include:
- Work clothing - such as coveralls and steel-capped footwear
- Eye protection - such as safety glasses and face masks
- Ear protection - such as earmuffs and earplugs
- Hand protection - such as rubber gloves and barrier cream
- Respiratory equipment - such as face masks and valved respirators
If you are not certain what is appropriate or required, ask your supervisor.
Points to note
- The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-character identification composed of letters and digits. The VIN is designed to identify motor vehicles of all kinds: cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, etc. It was originally defined in ISO Standard 3779 in 1977 and revised in 1983.
- The VIN is usually located on the front left corner of the windshield and is also inscribed on the engine, transmission, both front guards, bonnet, doors, both bumpers, both rear quarter panels and the boot lid or hatchback. The VIN is a unique number in the world, which identifies the country of manufacture, manufacturer's name, division name, model and other important information.
- All worldwide vehicle manufacturers use this numbering system. So, by learning to interpret the system, the identity of a vehicle or a component can be determined and verified.
- Whenever a vehicle is registered or a registered vehicle is sold, a record of the VIN is kept. From this registry, information about the vehicle can be accessed. The type of information includes:
- Title History — who owned the vehicle
- Salvage Title — has the vehicle been wrecked and suffered irreparable damage
- Lemon Title — a recalled vehicle that is sold on the market without modifications
- Odometer Rollback — evidence of odometer tampering
Part 2: Step-by-step instruction
- Locate make and model of vehicle
Locate the make of the vehicle from the body nameplate, which is usually found on the front of the vehicle. Now locate the model from the body trim. The model may be a name, number, letter, or combination.
- Locate and note VIN
Next locate the Vehicle Information Number or VIN, usually found on a plate in the upper left dashboard, and which in many cases is visible through the windshield. In some instances the plate may be mounted in a different location. If the plate is not visible through the windshield check under the hood to see if it is mounted in the engine bay area. Note each letter and number exactly as it appears on the plate.
- Decode VIN and note information
Each manufacturer provides a VIN decoding chart for their vehicles in their shop service manuals. This is normally found in the General Information section of the manual. Find the page with the VIN decoding chart. As you locate the information, write it down for later use when locating specifications or parts.