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Get a Comprehensive Vehicle History Report with a VIN Decoder

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is akin to a vehicle's DNA. Just as the DNA reveals crucial traits of a human, the VIN reveals important information about a vehicle. The VIN id is a 17-character code that holds details related to a vehicle. Every model receives a VIN at production, so two models cannot share the same VIN. Information encoded in the VIN include the country and year of production, technical specifications, recall and safety information, etc. This article will give tips on finding a vehicle’s VIN, how a VIN decoder works (and how to use one), and answer vin lookup questions. With VinPit, you can run a VIN decoder to figure the full vehicle history report in one go.

  • Theft history
  • Accident history
  • Historical photos
  • Year of production
  • Safety information related
  • Location of vehicle registration
  • Unreported Vehicle Damage
  • Other Vital information

What Is a VIN Decoder?

As earlier highlighted, the VIN holds key information about a specific vehicle. But, to extract that information, you need a VIN decoder. A VIN decoder is a tool that helps car buyers get details of a car with the aid of a VIN. Once you enter the VIN and get the decoding process underway, you’ll get every statistic and fact related to that model. In those times when buying a new vehicle, a VIN decoder can help you make an informed choice. For instance, a VIN search will show you a vehicle’s safety level — useful for those who consider automobile safety before buying. A VIN decode is also helpful when buying used vehicles as well. Not only will you get the model’s origin and year of production, but you’ll get info related to recalls and safety records. Overall, a VIN decoder makes the car-buying process more transparent and removes any doubts you might have about a vehicle.

VIN Number Breakdown

What's the meaning of each character in your vehicle VIN?

How to Decode the Vehicle Identification Number

As highlighted previously in the article, a VIN comprises a mix of alphabets and digits (17 in total). But what exactly do these numbers and letters mean? Here’s how to decode the VIN number.

In the VIN, the first character denotes the country where the vehicle was manufactured. This character can either be a letter or digit — cars produced in North America usually start with a number while those from Europe, Asia, etc., mostly start with letters. For instance, American cars use ‘1’, ‘4’ or ‘5’, while German cars use ‘W’.

The next letter in the VIN represents the vehicle’s manufacturer while the third letter shows the vehicle type or division. Taken together with the aforementioned first character, these three characters collectively form the World Manufacturer Index (WMI).

The next series of letters and numbers describe several aspects of the vehicle. The list runs the gamut from engine size to transmission type, restraint system, and many more.

Since some rogues decide to fabricate VINs, the 9th character (called the security check digit) is used to validate the VIN. Generated based on a formula developed by the US DOT, the security check digit prevents use of fake VINs to sell vehicles.

In the 10th position in the VIN is a character (letter or number) that denotes a vehicle’s model year. Model years 1981 to 2000 used letters between B and Y, except I, O, Q, U or Z. The 2001-2009 model years used numbers 1-9 while model years from 2010 will use alphabets from A until 2030.

The 11th VIN character aka “Plant Code” specifies what factory produced the vehicle. To round off, the last six digits make up the car’s serial number, stamped on it at the production line.

How VIN Decoder Works?

A VIN number decoder is simple yet effective. It uses enormous data culled from sources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to extract vehicle info stored in the VIN.

As the information placed in the VIN is updated constantly, a VIN decoder will provide accurate data related to a vehicle. Thus, using a VIN decoder will save you from unscrupulous individuals who may try to hide information about a vehicle from you.

Say a seller tells that a car is in perfect condition with no trace of unreliability. You can confirm by looking up the VIN online. You'll get information concerning recalls for that model and note any issues that may be plaguing the vehicle.

Example of VIN Decoding

As you already know by now, the VIN has in it several details about your car. And you might need that information while you are trying to purchase a car or get a spare for your vehicle. Which is why you need to learn how to decode the VIN.

While we have spelt out what’s in a typical VIN, we’ll show you an example of VIN decoding for a specific model.


From the VIN number listed above, we can obtain the following information about the vehicle in question using a VIN number decoder:

Model: F-150

Manufacturer: Ford Motor Co.

Engine Size: 3.5-liter V6 (turbocharged)

Trim: FX2 SuperCrew 5.5-ft. Bed 2WD

Year of production: 2013

Country of production: United States of America

Is It Safe to Give Out My VIN Number?

The consensus is that it is safe — necessary, even — to share your VIN with buyers when you are trying to sell your vehicle. Or else, they won’t be able to get the goods on your car, which may be a turn-off.

And to be honest, your VIN is sitting pretty much in the open, so it’s not something you can hide. A VIN is not like a Social Security Number; giving it out won’t affect your security.

Be ready to release it if a prospective buyer ever asks for it. This is only right if you want to maintain utmost transparency throughout the entire car-buying process.

How to Avoid VIN Cloning?

VIN cloning occurs when someone steals the VIN of a car and uses it to forge new documents for another (usually stolen) vehicle. Another form of VIN cloning is to cut the VIN plate from one car and welding it to another, stolen, vehicle.

By using a fresh VIN, these rogue elements will pass off the stolen vehicle as a legitimate vehicle. Buy that vehicle, and you’ll find yourself embroiled in a car theft case or — worse — get your car seized.

The key to avoiding the prospect of becoming a victim of VIN cloning is to be thorough in checking the VIN for any vehicle that you want to buy. This means that you must check the VIN number in the car documents and that on the car itself to see if they correlate.

Sure, thieves can alter documents and change the VIN. However, they can hardly erase the VIN from areas like the engine block or the door jamb.

Checking those places is your best bet to ensure that the VIN on your chosen car isn't a cloned version. That way, you can save yourself the stress that comes with buying a stolen car.

A VIN is more than just a random string of numbers. It can help with tracking recalls on a vehicle, vehicle registrations, possible theft involvements, and provide other crucial vehicle information.

VinPit, a reliable free VIN decoder has a VIN reader tool that makes it easy to extract car-related information using your VIN. Our database is updated regularly, so the information is up-to-date. We also offer vehicle history report services, license plate lookups, and more.

VIN Decoder by Make

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mitsubishi motors

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I lookup my vehicle specs by VIN number?

Yes, you can. In fact, it is as simple as collecting your vehicle identification number and logging it into your most trusted VIN decoder. Afterward, you click search and specifications like car model, year of production, drive type, oil capacity, maximum hp and torque, steering details, tyre type, interior and exterior colors, safety equipment, front and rear wheel diameter details should pop up.

How do I read a VIN number?

Reading one is pretty simple. Divide the 17-character code into four sections. The first section comprising three characters is the world manufacturer identifier (WMI) used to figure out manufacturing details. The first character here signifies the country of production, next is the company manufacturer and the third is whether the vehicle is a car, SUV or truck. The section two consisting of characters 4 to 8 highlights the engine type, body type, transmission and model type. The ninth digit is analogous to a security code while the section 4 consisting of characters 10-17 is the vehicle identification section (VIS) used to mark the vehicle’s plant code and production number.

How can I check a VIN number for free?

Using VIN decoders like VinPit, you pay next to nothing to have a VIN lookup. But we cannot speak for other sites — read the terms to know if they have a 'VIN decoder free' policy or not. .

What vehicle history report may be shown?

A VIN will show you a vehicle’s production year, assembly plant, engine type, trim level, transmission type, and more. You will also get recalls for a vehicle from searching its VIN.

Do all vehicles have a VIN?

The VIN system doesn’t cover all vehicles in the US. Presently, only cars, SUVs, pickups, motorcycles, vans, commercial trucks, recreational vehicles, mopeds/scooters, buses, and ATVs are required to have a VIN.

What do I need to decode my VIN?

The only things you need to decode the VIN number is the VIN itself and a phone or laptop with access to the internet. With these things, you can use sites like VinPit to decode your VIN.