free VIN decoderA free VIN Decoder will help you determine what each of the letters and numbers in your vehicle identification number signify. It is comprised of a special sequence of characters, and each car has a unique VIN. It is in essence a vehicle’s fingerprint…i.e., no two cars have the same sequence.

The free decoder below will work with all cars manufactured after 1981, which is the year a 17-character VIN became standard in the industry. After you learn what each character means, you can then get a vehicle history report which will reveal any serious hidden problems in the car’s past as well as other important information about the car you are considering.

Keep in mind that the vehicle history report has a built-in VIN decode function so anytime you check a car the provider, such as Autocheck, will provide this information for free. You do not have to pay for this initial part of the report.

At any rate, here is the free VIN decoder for you. You don’t have to be concerned with all 17 characters in a vehicle’s VIN. For your convenience we only cover the important ones. We use an actual VIN below to illustrate how it works.

Example: Ford VIN Decoder – VIN: 2FTRX18W1XCA01212)

The first three characters signify the make of the car, usually as follows: 

The first character of your VIN represents the country of manufacture

1 = USA      J = Japan   Y = Finland, Sweden
2 = Canada   K = Korea
3 = Mexico   W = Germany

So in our example, this car is made in Canada.

The second character represents the manufacturer or make of the vehicle, as follows:

A = Alfa Romeo, B = Dodge, C = Chrysler, D = Daihatsu, E = Eagle, F= Ford/Eagle,
G = All General Motors vehicles (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn)
H = Honda/Acura, J= Jeep, L = Lincoln, M = Mitsubishi, N = Nissan/Infiniti, P = Plymouth,
S = Subaru, T = Toyota/Lexus, V = Volkswagen

So we are looking at a Ford here.

Other makes use a 3-character combination:

TRU/WAU = Audi, 4US/WBA/WBS = BMW, 2HM/KMH = Hyundai, SAJ = Jaguar,
SAL = Land Rover, 1YV/JM1 = Mazda, WDB = Mercedes-Benz, VF3 = Peugeot,
WP0 = Porsche, YK1/YS3 = Saab, YV1=Volvo, 8 = Isuzu

The fourth character is the type of restraint system or brake type:

For the Ford our VIN Decoder, the R represents hydraulic brakes

The fifth, sixth & seventh characters are the car line, series and body style

This will obviously be different for all makes, but let’s use the Ford VIN Decoder example above: Characters 5, 6 & 7 are X18: X18 is a Ford F150 Pickup 4WD Super Cab

The eighth character is a description of the engine:

This will be different for all makes as well, so let’s use the Ford VIN Decoder example again: Character 8 is a W: W represents a 4.6 liter V-8 engine

The tenth character represents the year of the car. Pay close attention to this one:

A=1980, 2010 | B=1981, 2011 | C=1982, 2012 | D=1983, 2013
E=1984, 2014 | F=1985, 2015 | G=1986, 2016 | H=1987, 2017
J=1988, 2018 | K=1989, 2019 | L=1990, 2020 | M=1991, 2021
N=1992, 2022 | P=1993, 2023 | R=1994, 2024 | S=1995, 2025
T=1996, 2026 | V=1997, 2027 | W=1998, 2028 | X=1999, 2029
Y=2000, 2030 | 1=2001, 2031 | 2=2002, 2032 | 3=2003, 2033
4=2004, 2034 | 5=2005, 2035 | 6=2006, 2036 | 7=2007, 2037
8=2008, 2038 | 9=2009, 2039

The eleventh character indicates the assembly plant.
In the above Ford VIN Decoder example, the C indicates Ontario, Canada

Characters 12-17 represent the vehicle’s unique fingerprint.
It is these six digits which make every single vehicle in the world different.

Please note: The letter “I” as in indigo, the letter “O” as in orange, and the letter “Q” as in queen are NOT found in any VIN Numbers. Please check your VIN carefully so you can decode it properly.

We try to update this free VIN decoder as often as possible, so if you don’t find what you are looking for just send us a note and we’ll help you decode your VIN.

You can find out everything you need to know about a vehicle you are considering with a full Vehicle History Report on a used car. This will decode any VIN for free as well as reveal serious hidden problems such as major collision damage, mechanical problems, insurance loss and much more. To learn more about vehicle history, click the links below.