What is a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?

Every vehicle on the road today has a Vehicle Identification Number.

Like your fingerprints, the VIN number is your vehicles unique number, no two vehicles will have the same VIN number.

The VIN is composed of 17 characters that act as the unique identifier for your vehicle, and is comprised of numbers and capital letters, excluding the letters I and Q, which can be confused for the numbers 1 and 0.

A VIN displays the vehicles unique features, level of specification and the manufacturer.

The VIN allows tracking of warranty claims, recalls, registration, theft and insurance coverage.

Where is the VIN located?

There are a number of locations on a vehicle where the VIN number may be located.

The most common location is under the windscreen, on the passenger side of the vehicle.

It will be pressed into a metal plate, and should be clearly visible.

Other locations can be on the inside of the driver or passenger door jambs, or on a plate under the bonnet.

It is also located on registration papers, and possibly in your owner’s manual, on the front or back cover.

Reading the VIN

Once you have found your vehicles VIN number, you can use it to determine where your vehicle was built, what features were specified from factory, the model year, and the serial number of the vehicle itself.

Every manufacturer has a different way of using the VIN for these purposes.

VIN Search

When looking at purchasing a used vehicle, you can use the VIN number to see the history of a vehicle.

This includes whether a bank or financial institution has any interest in the vehicle (money still owing on the vehicle), whether the vehicle has been ‘written off,’ due to accident, hail or water damage, or if the odometer has been tampered with.

There are many websites that conduct these checks for a small fee, the cheapest one being the official Australian Government PPSR website.

Carrying out a VIN search will give you peace of mind when purchasing a used vehicle.

Thanks to Fixed Price Car Service for this handy info on Vehicle Identification Numbers.

About Joel Helmes 2957 Articles
Joel is the founder and CEO of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.

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