IDENTIFICATION NUMBER SEARCH
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VIN#s | VIN Terms | VIN
In the mid 1950's American automobile manufacturers began
stamping and casting identification numbers on vehicles and
their parts to allow people to search the records. The vehicle
identification number has become referred to as the "VIN".
The obvious purpose was to give an accurate description of
the vehicle when mass production numbers were starting to
climb in very significant numbers. Research has shown that
early Vin's came in all sorts of variations which depended
on the individual manufacturer at that time.
In the early 1980's the National highway Traffic Safety Administration
(U.S. Dept. of Transport) required that all road vehicles
must contain a 17 character VIN. This established the fixed
VIN system for major vehicle manufacturers as it is known
today. Thus, establishing a unique "DNA" style search
number for each unique vehicle which rolled off the assembly
The location of the Vehicle Identification Number may vary
on the year/make/model of vehicle, but some common area's
do exist. In addition, the VIN is often referred to as the
Chassis Number Format or the vehicle Serial Number by people.
It may be in plate (aluminum) or label form or bar code form
or cast/stamped on the component (actual part). e.g. engine,
Other Common locations of the vehicle identification number
vary and some may be as follows:
Firewall of the vehicle
Left hand inner wheel arch
Radiator Support Bracket
Dash by windshield
Drivers door or post or passenger side
Guarantee & Maintenance Book *Vehicle documents
Machined Pad on front of engine
Later model years - most common area's of VIN:
Left instrumentation/dash plate by window
Drivers door or post
Body Type: refers to the general configuration or shape of
a vehicle distinguished by such characteristics as the number
of doors, windows, cargo-carrying features (e.g. fastback,
Line: refers to a name that a manufacturer applies to a group
or family of vehicles within a make which have a degree of
commonality in construction (such as body, chassis, cab type).
Model: refers to a name that a manufacturer applies to a
group of the same type, make, line, series and body type.
Make: refers to a name that a manufacturer applies to a group
of vehicles or engines.
Model Year: refers to the year used to designate a discrete
vehicle model, irrespective of the calendar year in which
the vehicle was actually produced - so long as the actual
period is less than two (2) calendar years.
Plant: plant where manufacturer affixes the Vehilcle Identification
Series: refers to a name that a manufacturer applies to a
subdivision of a "line" denoting price, size, weight
identification and that is used by manufacturer for marketing
In the mid 1980's the Department of Transportation issued
the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard to try
to reduce the number of motor vehicle thefts and over the
next few years several standards where introduced.
1987: autos in this model year that were high theft were
required to have 12-14 of their major component parts marked
with the VIN.
1994: the standard was amended to include multi-purpose
passenger vehicles and light duty trucks.
1997: amended to mark VIN major component parts:
front & rear bumper
right & left door
sliding cargo door
right & left quarter panels and side assembly
rear doors & hatchback/deck lid/tailgate.