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What is a VIN?

A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a one-of-a-kind identifier that identifies a certain vehicle. The VIN serves as the car's fingerprint because no two vehicles in service have the same VIN.
PutInTheVIN.com | What is a VIN?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has provided Vehicle Identification Numbers to every vehicle on the road since 1954. A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a one-of-a-kind identifier that identifies a certain vehicle. The VIN serves as the car’s fingerprint because no two vehicles in service have the same VIN. Vehicles built before 1981 had VINs that were less than 17 characters long. VINs for newer vehicles consist of 17 characters, which contain letters and numbers. A vehicle identification number (VIN) can be used to identify a vehicle’s features, specs, and manufacturer.

Why is a VIN so important?

The VIN of your vehicle is an important identifier for you, your insurance provider, and your mechanic. Consider it the history of your car—everything from an accident to an oil change is recorded using the vehicle identification number. Insurers can even change premium pricing based on the facts found on the insurance VIN check. If your vehicle was involved in a major collision, your premiums may increase.

How is a VIN used?

The VIN can provide a variety of information depending on who is utilizing it:

  • When maintaining a vehicle, mechanics frequently use the vehicle identification number since it allows them to quickly determine the engine type and other parts that the vehicle may require.
  • Insurance firms utilize the VIN for the same reason mechanics do: when quoting a rate, insurers check on information about the car they may be insuring.
  • The VIN is used by manufacturers to trace their automobiles. The VIN is useful in identifying individual vehicle models that are recalled, allowing the manufacturer to quickly establish which vehicles are affected and contact the owners.
  • The VIN number can be used by police to determine whether a car was engaged in a theft or other crime.
  • The VIN number is used by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) for car registration.

PutInTheVIN.com retrieves the year, make, model, and trim information from your VIN. We also do a comprehensive vehicle audit utilizing the VIN to investigate the car’s past.

Reading a VIN isn’t as difficult as most people believe; here’s an example of a VIN “break down.”

Characters in a VIN represent a vehicle's make, model, year of manufacture, assembly plant, and other information.
Characters in a VIN represent a vehicle’s make, model, year of manufacture, assembly plant, and other information.

Where can I find my VIN?

While there is no universal location for your VIN because it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, the following are the most typical locations:

  • Driver’s Side Interior Dashboard
  • Driver’s Side Door Jamb
  • Under the Hood
  • Front End of the Frame

Your VIN can also be found on the following documents:

  • Insurance Card / Insurance Policy
  • Vehicle Title and Registration Documents
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