The Vehicle Identification Number is the Social Security number of the car. It is a 17 character alphanumeric code. Each letter and each number stands for something. The VIN is stamped on many different parts of a car such as: engine, hood, door jambs, dashboard, etc. No one knows for sure where very VIN is stamped. At least six VINs are etched in hidden places only known to the FBI. Some of these places are so hard to find as a piece of metal must be removed and then a mirror on a telescoping rod is used to see the hidden VIN.
VIN helps FBI solve the Oklahoma City Bombing
The most famous use of a VIN number to aid law enforcement in solving a crime was the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building by Timothy McVeigh and cohorts. They detonated a fertilizer bomb in the back of a rental truck. The FBI identified the VIN from the rear axle of that truck and was able to determine the origination of the rental that lead to the apprehension of the domestic terrorists.
Origin of the VIN
The VIN etching originally started in 1954 by the auto manufacturers and by 1981, the Federal government passed law that all over-the-road vehicles must have a 17 digit VIN number. The government was only 27 years behind corporate America, amazing. There are roughly 250 million cars on the road today and about 750,000 a year get stolen, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports on Motor Vehicle Theft. In the past ten years auto theft has been cut in half due to most new vehicles being sold with standard anti-theft devices, visible VINs, and GPS devices in cars. The VIN has taken the ability away from most criminals to profit from the stolen parts market and made it very hard to get the car past Customs at the ports for export.
What do all the numbers and letter of a VIN mean?
Each letter and number means something. The last 6 digits are the sequence numbers to the car. There are 17 digits all together and we will break down each one and tell you what it means. At the end, you will be able to look at your VIN and know everything about your car.
Let’s use a fictitious example of a VIN: 1ZVBP8CF5B5161451. Just need the VIN chart
- 1st Three digits “1ZV” is the country of origin, make, and body style… United States, Ford, Coupe.
- 4thdigit “B” is Restraint System Type, Brake Type and GVWR Class …Category B is 3,000 to 4,000 lbs,Standard, Dual Air Bags Front and Sides/Active Belts .
- 5thdigit is “P” is Vehicle Line…Mustang.
- 6thdigit “8” is Series…GT .
- 7thdigit “C” is Vehicle Type….Passenger Car.
- 8thdigit “F” is Engine, Cylinders, Fuel, Engine Manufacturer…5.0L, 8, Gasoline, Ford.
- 9thdigit “5” is Check Digit to make sure the VIN is a real VIN. It is a complicated mathematical formula that validates all the other digits are true. For more info on the math, go to Shay History.
- 10thdigit “B” is The Model Year…2011 .
- 11thdigit “5” is Assembly Plant…Flat Rock Michigan .
- 12thdigit to 17thdigit is the car’s sequence number “161451”…161,451 Mustang built .
There you have it. Get yourself a manual and you can manually check your car’s VIN or you could just use a VIN decoder on the internet like this one VIN Decoder. The VIN is so specific, auto dealerships and locksmiths can cut ignition and door keys from the VIN alone. But, remember the dealership and locksmith will want proof of ownership, like a title, before they will do it for obvious liability issues.
The next time your insurance agent asks for the VIN number and you go to tell him the type of car, save your breath, the VIN number will tell him everything including if the car has a turbo engine, anti-restraint devices so he will remember to give you the associated discounts or penalize you for their absence. Now, you also know, why the insurance agent takes a picture of your VIN tag on the door jamb when you have to get pictures taken before the comprehensive and collision parts of your coverage are valid. Those pictures tell everyone everything just like our D.O.B. and Social Security number identifies us. I bet you didn’t know that our social security numbers are our VIN numbers and have meaning as well. Next article I will breakdown a social security number meaning.
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