Beginners often estimate how much information one can gather about a particular vehicle model type based on its VIN (vehicle identification number) alone. For those wishing to dig deep into their automobile’s factory information – particularly the year of production – the 10th digit of the VIN would be a great starting place.
My team has conducted an inclusive chart to help you navigate the codes better. Keep scrolling.
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What Year Is This VIN? A Full Chart For Road Vehicles
A VIN on a terrain vehicle has 17 characters, each indicating critical information about the car’s origin. If you look for the vehicle’s model year, then inspect its 10th character; this code standardization has been launched since as early as 1981.
The years go in full circles from letter A to letter Y, then spiraling to numbers (1-9) before returning to A. By illustration:
- “Y” is the code for 2000, and 2001 is “1”.
- 2009 is signaled as “9”, and 2010 restarts at “A.”
Letters I (i), Q (q), and O (o) are deliberately left out, by the way, since manufacturers fear that customers would mistake them for digit numerals 1, 9, and 0. Characters 0 (zero), Z and U are not in use, either.
Here are some common examples of year translation for VINs:
- 1GTH5BEA0L1214129: the production year is 2020 (letter L)
- WBAKP9C57GD980813: the year is 2016 (letter G)
- JH2PC35051M200020: 2001 (number 1)
Note that this 10th digit sometimes does not refer to the exact manufacturing year of the car. Rather, it depicts the model’s gen or series year – a case particularly common for cars intended to get released. For instance, a model manufactured in Fall 2022 might have a model year code of 2023.
Now that we have resolved the most confusing part of the entire article, let’s dig into the full year VIN chart:
How to Read The Other Digits In The 17-Digit Code VIN?
Now that we already figure out the 10th digit of the 17-digit VIN code, let’s have a brief look at the rest for informational purposes:
- 1st digit: The car’s build location or country of origin (ex: A-H means Africa, J to R points to Asia, and S to Z implies Europe)
- 2nd and 3rd digit: The manufacturer and specific divisions (ex: WMX is the VIN code for the AMG division of Mercedes)
- 4th digit: The model-specific features and info (ex: C = Safety braking)
- 5th digit: The series (ex: S – S series)
- 6th and 7th digit: The car’s type and body style (ex: 18 = Chassis style)
- 8th digit: The eighth digit refers to the engine type or engine model (ex: Z – Z series)
- 9th digit/Check digit code: The letter at the 9th position is used to verify the VIN’s legitimacy. Usually, drivers cannot confirm it on their own due to the complex mathematical formulas involved; an online decoder or VIN search tool is needed.
- 11th digit: The 11th character depicts the manufacturer plant
- 12th-17th digits: The manufacturer’s production number, which you will not likely need.
What Should You Do When The Car VIN and The Title Do Not Match?
Transcription mistakes like these, although rare, can still happen. In that case, your best bet is to report the issue with the dealerships or, even better, the state DMV. They will help you track down the car resources and fix the mismatched vehicle identifiers in no time.
My guide has provided a full, inclusive chart to help you interpret the 10th digit of the 17-digit VIN (also known as the digit for production year).
The decoding for other VIN digits is also included. If you still feel confused about these individual vehicle descriptors, check the manufacturer’s manual or write me for advice.
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