When you registered your first car it was probably the first time you worked with a VIN. VIN means Vehicle Identifications Number; it is commonly referred to as the VIN number. (Vehicle identification number number?) This number (which also has letters in it) is in essence the serial number for your car, a unique number that identifies this specific vehicle. Every vehicle made from 1954 to the present has been given its own number. From 1954 to 1980 they were simply made up by the manufacturer. From 1981 to the present it has been required to fit a specific patter to make them more uniform.
Not only is the VIN used for registering and inspecting the vehicle, it is used extensively in keeping track of its service records and accidents. VINs are crucial to getting the correct parts for your car when it is being repaired, some car dealers will not allow you to order parts without giving them the VIN.
A lot can be learned about a vehicle with the VIN without even seeing the car itself. The first three digits of the VIN tell who the manufacturer is and the country of origin. This is called the WMI, or world manufacturer identifier. Digits four through nine are the VDS, or vehicle description section. This explains information such as car line, series, body type, restraint system, transmission/ engine information, and the ninth digit is a secret digit used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to detect invalid VINs. Digits ten through seventeen are called the VIS or Vehicle identifier section. Digit ten is the year of the car. The rest of the digits indicate the location of the manufacturing assembly plant and its assembly line production sequence.
Not only does the government use the VIN extensively to track cars for registration, theft prevention, and theft recovery, but it is used extensively by banks, insurance companies, and companies like CARFAX to keep track of the history of a vehicle. Twisted Wrench relies heavily on the VIN for your vehicle to make sure we get the right maintenance and repair information. Vehicles are getting very complicated and specific, so the information in the VIN is crucial to proper repairs.
Technology is moving fast, so now vehicles have a bar code that can be scanned to retrieve the VIN. You can get an app for your smart phone to do this. Most smart phone bar code apps will scan VINS. In addition to using the VIN for repair information, Twisted Wrench uses the scanner at wholesale used car auctions to determine vehicle information such as value, accident history, et cetera to ensure we only buy the best cars possible to sell to our customers.
For more on how a VIN is broken down you can go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/vehicle-identification-number for more detailed information. If you wish to dig deeper into a specific VIN you can go to www.decodethis.com and you can find out a lot of specifics about your car. Have fun investigating!