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What Is a VIN Number and Why Do I Need It?

What Is a VIN Number and Why Do I Need It?

According to the Consumer Federation of America, there are over 70 million vehicles driving out there right now with open recalls on them.

In order to know if you have a recall on your car, you’ll need a VIN number. But what is it? And where do you find it?

Thankfully, we’ll help break down everything you need to know about a VIN Number here!

What is a VIN Number

First, you might be wondering what a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is. It’s a special type of code that will identify your specific vehicle. You can think of it as the unique fingerprint for the car.

No two vehicles can have the same VIN number. Since there are 17 characters composed of characters and symbols, there are plenty of possibilities.

The VIN will also give you information on the features of the car, the manufacturer who made it, and any specific considerations for the car.

How to Decode It

If you’re interested, there is an easy way to learn how to decode the complicated sequence.

Once you find your specific VIN number, the first digit will signify what country the manufacturer made the car in. For example, if your car was made in the United States, that first number will be a one, four, or a five. For cars made in Canada, you’ll see a two as the first digit.

For Mexico, the car would have been made in Mexico.

The next two characters will signify what the manufacturer made the car. For example, if the next letter is a G, that means General Motors made that specific car. After that, the next letter will tell you what kind of car you have. This could be something like an SUV, truck, or a sedan.

For the next five numbers, you’ll be given a description of the specific aspects of the vehicle. For example, the VIN will tell you what the body of the car is, the exact model, what type of transmission it is, if there are any restraints, and what engine it has.

There should also be a number that will signify what year the car was made. You should also find an authorization number and a marker from a specific plant that manufactured your car.

The last remaining digits will be a special sequence that is unique to your car.

Each manufacturer makes a decoder for their VIN numbers, so if you know your specific make and model, you can look up exactly what your VIN number stands for.

What Is It For?

Now you know how to read it, but what is a VIN number used for exactly?

There are actually plenty of helpful uses for it. Here are a few of the most common ones.

Buying a Used Car

If you’re buying a used car, you can search on CarHistory.online with the VIN of the car that you’re interested in buying. When you plug it into a search engine, you’ll be able to pull up the history of the vehicle and see what’s happened with it.

You’ll be able to see how many people have owned it, how many major events it’s been through, how many crashes it’s been in, and what maintenance has been done on the car.

Because you can search for all this information, you should make sure that you include this as a step in your research before you end up buying a used car. This will help you to avoid making a bad purchase.

Theft Deterrent

Another great use of VINs is that it can help deter people from stealing your vehicle. Make sure you always have your VIN written down somewhere so that if it’s stolen, you can report the VIN to the authorities.

When the authorities have the VIN of your stolen vehicle, the thieves will have a difficult time selling your car.

Check for Recalls

Sometimes things go wrong with the vehicles, which is when the manufacturer could put out a recall.

It’s important to know if there is a recall because you could be driving a vehicle that is currently unsafe. In order to check for any recalls, you can take your VIN number and put it into the United States Department of Transportations’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safety Issues and Recall search.

A Boston car accident lawyer notes that if an accident is caused by a defect in the vehicle that is not the focus of a current recall, the manufacturer could be legally liable.


This website holds recalls that have been out for the past fifteen years from manufacturers. They update this information pretty often, so make sure you check it every few months to ensure your car doesn’t have an open recall on it.

If there is a recall, the manufacturer should be able to fix it for you free of charge.

Where Can You Find It?

Now that you know how to use a VIN, where can you find it on your car?

You can normally find it directly on your vehicle. On the outside of your car, look near the dashboard on the driver’s side of the windshield.

You’ll be able to see it better from the outside, where the dashboard meets the windshield. If you can’t find it there, open the driver door.

Once you’ve done that, look at where the door latches when it’s closed. The VIN should be in either of those locations. If for some reason you can’t find it there, you should look at your auto insurance policy or card.

Learn More About Why a VIN Number is Important

These are only a few reasons as to why a VIN number is important, but there are many more reasons as well.

We know that dealing with car problems can be stressful and overwhelming, but thankfully you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help!

If you enjoyed this article, make sure that you explore our website to find more articles just like this one!

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