Production information

What is vehicle identification number or chassis number

For Japanese cars

To determine the manufacture date of a Japanese vehicle, use the form below.
Enter the chassis number and select the brand, for example:

  • Frame number: NZT240-0398123
  • Firm: Toyota

Vehicles production date

For German BMW vehicle

To determine the manufacture date of a BMW.

For all other vehicles

Another service that enables you to decode VIN's of other international vehicles.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or Chassis Number

The Vehicle Identification Number, commonly referred to as the VIN, is a sequence of 17 letters and numbers that is uniquely assigned for each vehicle. The VIN can usually be found on the driver's side dashboard near or under the bottom portion of the windshield. It can also be found on the certification label found on the driver's doorjamb on most vehicles.

The VIN provides some information about the vehicle. It is typically composed of four sections. The first three digits are called the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). Toyota VINs starting with "1", "4", or "5" represent vehicles assembled in the United States, VINs beginning with "2" indicate vehicles assembled in Canada, and vehicles with VINs beginning with "3" were assembled in Mexico. Vehicles with VINs that start with "J" were produced in Japan.

The next five digits (4 through 8) are the Vehicle Description Section (VDS). These digits provide information on the vehicle model, body style, and engine type. The ninth digit is a check digit used internally. The 10th digit indicates the model year; letters (except "O" and "Z") were used for vehicles up to the 2000 model year while numbers are used for 2001 and newer vehicles. For example, "X" means the 1999 model year, "Y" is the 2000 model year and "1" represents the 2001 model year. The 11th digit is the plant code. Finally, digits 12 - 17 are the unique serial number.

A VIN number, or Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique "fingerprint" assigned to a vehicle to allow it to be identified.  All vehicles currently made in quantities over 500 are required to have a VIN number assigned to them.

VIN numbers have taken a variety of shapes over the years.  In early cars a VIN was simply a serial number, recording what sequential number a vehicle was in the production run.  The identification number was inconsistent and overlapped across manufacturers.  This caused endless confusion when people wanted to identify a particular car.

Then manufacturers started encoding other information into the VIN, such as manufacturer code, year, even model number.  This made it easier for people to associate vehicles to a unique identifier.  The VIN became a more important tool to both manufacturers and owners.  But still unfortunately the system was flawed.  Since no one oversaw how VIN numbers were created and assigned there was still a great chance that there would be overlap between manufacturers.  It also prevented anyone from looking at a vehicle identification number solely and be able to positively identify a car just by that number.

Modern-day Vehicle Identification Number systems are based on two related standards, originally issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1979 and 1980; ISO 3779 and ISO 3780, respectively. Compatible but somewhat different implementations of these ISO standards have been adopted by the European Union and the United States of America.

This standardization of VIN numbers meant that a unique series of digits could finally be assigned to only one vehicle, without the possibility of overlap.  The 17-character VIN was born.  Everyone from parts manufacturers to law enforcement use VIN numbers to trace, track, and positively identify vehicles.   Each modern vehicle has the VIN number printed in several places on the vehicle, including on the frame.  This allows identification even in the case of severe damage from accident or fire.

It's a good idea to be aware of your VIN number.  It's not necessary to keep it secret, as every car has it clearly printed on it in plain sight.  But it's a good idea to have this number handy (such as on a copy of your registration) in case of theft or catostrophic damage.