How to read your VIN number?


Posted by: Jane Osuagwu

Share this post:
I can bet that you don't know what the characters of your car's VIN represent. See how you can decode this number on your car!

The vehicle identification number popularly known as VIN is a code that helps for proper identification of a particular vehicle. You can see it like a car's fingerprint. As you know, every human has a unique fingerprint, so each vehicle has its own VIN. And no two vehicles can have the same VIN code. If you are a driver or car owner, you may have observed that the VIN comprises of 17 characters, including the capital letters and the digits, all as an identification number.

So, the question is, what do the 17 characters represent? What do they mean?

Here in this article, is going to be your VIN decoder. We’ll be letting you on, to know exactly what the VIN means.

1. What is a VIN?

Simply put, it's a vehicle identification number used for tracking different elements in a car, such as registration, warranty claims, recalls and theft. And aside from the fact that the VIN can help you know a car's manufacturer, it can also help in identifying the features of a vehicle and it's specification as well.

Ready to decode your car's VIN? Let's get started.

2. How to decode VIN on your car?

  • The first character

Now hold on. Have a look at the VIN code written on your car, and check what the first character is. Whichever character comes first, it represents the country your car was manufactured in. Now, you've known that the first character is meant for the manufacturing place. So, let's say that the first character of your VIN is the letter "J".With the explanation that was given, your car was manufactured in Japan.

  • The second character

The first character has been decoded. The second character means who manufactured the car. If you are much into cars, you'll know that some big brands have subdivisions. For such big brands, it's their name that will be written on the second character. If your car's second letter is "T", then your car was manufactured by Toyota.

  • The third character

If a car brand has a subdivision, here is the place they will be acknowledged. The third character is for the subdivision of the main brand.

>>> Check the meaning of Nigeria number plate here! Decoding Nigeria plate number abbreviation


A VIN code contains up to 17 characters

  • The fourth character

If your car has a special option like a heavy-duty or towing package, it will be spelled out in this character. Anything special about your car that's worth mentioning is displayed on the fourth character.

  • The fifth character

Series is used to represent the various generations of a car line. The fifth character is used to display the series of a car. Take, for example, General Motors (GM), having a diverse set of trucks. The fifth character will be used to identify the order of the truck in the lineup.

  • The sixth and seventh characters

Here, you'll be able to know the body style of your car. Whether your car is four doors or two doors, the sixth and seventh characters will display it.

  • The eight character represents the engine

This character is used to know the size of a car engine. As the engine is the center of the car, it's necessary you know the size of your car engine.

  • The ninth character

Are you driving a legal car or a fake car? The ninth character will help you prove it. Here is a bit complex. You must do some mathematical equation to get the ninth character. After the equation, if the figure you got is the same as the number on the ninth character, then it's authentic. And if not, then it's fake.

>>> VIN can help you detect your stolen car, more details at: How to track your stolen car in Nigeria

  • The tenth character

Now is the time to know when the car you drive was made. The tenth character shows the year a car was manufactured. If you are planning on buying a Tokunbo car, you may look up the year it was manufactured by checking the tenth character.

  • The eleventh character

Do you want to know the manufacturing plant where your car was made? The eleventh character will show you. It shows the specific location, like the manufacturing plant where a car was made. And you know car makers have multiple manufacturing plants across the globe.

  • The rest of the characters

When you've gotten to the eleventh character of a VIN, the remaining characters that follow is the production line. This is where the uniqueness of each car is. So, the other digits are the production line of your car.

With this information shared here, decoding your VIN will no longer be a challenge again.

>>> You might want to check out some car tips and advice here!

Share this post:
Jane Osuagwu

Jane Osuagwu

Car prices

Jane Osuagwu is an automotive writer at She's a car enthusiast who loves creating educative and informative topics on cars, ranging from maintenance tips to updates on the latest trend in the auto industry in concise and friendly writing. 

Jane is also a blogger and loves reading, inspiring people and getting involved in personal development projects.

Related Articles

See more
Covid 19