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Understanding Your VIN

The VIN is a vehicle’s fingerprint and is vital for tracking a vehicle’s life – its use, misuse, and demise. Here's a quick breakdown on what the digits really mean.

Understanding Your VIN

If you’re in the market for a private-party vehicle, shopping on sites that require a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is an important step in protecting yourself from fraud.

What is VIN and why does it matter?

The VIN is a vehicle’s fingerprint and is vital for tracking a vehicle’s life – its use, misuse, and demise. Instamotor requires sellers to provide their VIN, we do this so our Fraud & Safety team can screen the vehicle for issues. You can find the VIN number on the driver’s side door panel and at the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side.

Decoding what the VIN digits stand for

VIN’s have 17 digits and each digit represents a piece of information about the vehicle. The first digit tells the continent the vehicle was produced in, the second gives the manufacturer and sometimes the country of origin, and the tenth gives the model year.

Now you can find out where your vehicle was manufactured just by looking at the **first digit ** (and sometimes second):

  • A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H are made in Africa
  • J, K, L, M, N, P, and R are made Asia
  • S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z are made in Europe
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are made in North America
  • 6 and 7 are made in Oceania
  • 8 and 9 are made in South America

In some cases you’ll need the second digit to know for sure:

  • USA = 1, 4, or 5
  • Canada = 2
  • Mexico = 3
  • Japan = J
  • Germany = W

Now for the 10th digit – the model year:

  • A = 1980 OR 2010
  • B = 1981 OR 2011
  • C = 1982 OR 2012
  • D = 1983 OR 2013
  • E = 1984 OR 2014
  • F = 1985 OR 2015
  • G = 1986 OR 2016
  • H = 1987 OR 2017
  • I = Not used, because it looks like a “1”
  • J = 1988 or 2018
  • K = 1989 or 2019
  • L = 1990 or 2020
  • M = 1991 or 2021
  • N = 1992 or 2022
  • O = Not used. Neither zero or the letter “O” are used as the 10th digit.
  • P = 1993 or 2023
  • Q = Not used since it light be confused with O or 0.
  • R = 1994 or 2024
  • S = 1995 or 2025
  • T = 1996 or 2026
  • U = Not used since it might be confused with a V.
  • V = 1997 or 2027
  • W = 1998 or 2028
  • X = 1999 or 2029
  • Y = 2000 or 2030
  • 1 = 2001 or 2031
  • 2 = 2002 (or 2032, etc…)
  • 3 = 2003
  • 4 = 2004
  • 5 = 2005
  • 6 = 2006
  • 7 = 2007
  • 8 = 2008
  • 9 = 2009

If you’d like to read more about VIN’s check out this article from Jalopnik.

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The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.

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