What is a VIN, how to decipher it, and how to track the history of a car using it

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Carrying out any documentary procedures related to the car requires “identification of its identity.” The “ID” document is the vehicle’s passport, but the vehicle’s VIN is the primary means of identifying a vehicle. What is it, where can I find it, and how can it be useful?


VIN is an abbreviation of the English “vehicle identification number”, which means “vehicle identification number”. This is a unique 17-character alphanumeric code that is the primary means of identifying a vehicle throughout its life. VIN is assigned to the car by the manufacturer and does not change, unlike documents – they are issued to the car in the country of operation and change if its “registration” changes. In addition, VIN is not just a set of numbers: it contains information about the manufacturer, year of manufacture, and characteristics of the car.

By the way, it is precise because of the decoding of the VIN abbreviation that phrases like “ VIN number” are not entirely correct, as they are a tautology. Also, to ensure uniqueness, the VIN never contains the Latin letters I, O, and Q due to their similarity to the numbers 1 and 0.


As mentioned above, VIN provides two main functions: it identifies the car and carries information about it. It is he who is first indicated in the registration documents for the car, such as a vehicle passport or registration certificate. From the VIN, you can get information about where and when the car was made and what equipment is received at the factory. Well, besides, it is by VIN that you can track the history of the car and find out how many owners it had, whether it was in an accident, whether it is pledged, whether it is listed as stolen, and whether it has restrictions on registration actions.


The vehicle identification number is duplicated in several places – this makes it easier to find it and more reliably protects it from illegal actions. Depending on the car, you can find the VIN under the windshield, on the threshold or pillar of the driver’s door, on the bulkhead of the engine shield, on the “cup” of the front shock absorber, on the engine, and at some other points. It is worth noting that the VIN can be stamped either directly on the body or on a special number plate attached to the body with rivets.


Deciphering the VIN yourself is a rather laborious procedure since you will need to arm yourself with data tables and sequentially find out what the symbols of the identification number mean.

In general, VIN consists of three parts. The first three characters contain information about the manufacturer and country of manufacture of the car. Symbols 4 to 8 hide data about the model, its body type, installed engine, and equipment level. The ninth character is the so-called control character: it carries encrypted information about the authenticity of the VIN itself. The next 2 characters usually contain the year of manufacture of the car and the manufacturer, and the last 6 characters are the serial number of the car.

Now there are many online services offering free VIN decryption, so you can not waste time reading it yourself. Such work makes sense only in some cases – for example when it is important to find out exactly how the rare car left the assembly line, as this can affect its value. You can decipher the VIN, for example, in an electronic spare parts catalog like Eclats.


As mentioned earlier, VIN allows you to find out much more than just information about the manufacturer and vehicle equipment. In certain cases, the identification number can reveal to you the full biography of the car, telling you about all the nuances of its life. Consider the main services that will help with this.

Those who live outside the metropolitan area can also learn something about the history of a car by having its VIN.you can get data on the history of car registration and the presence of restrictions on registration actions, as well as find out if the car is listed as stolen. The traffic police also have a check for the participation of a car in an accident, however, this database cannot claim to be exhaustive, and the possibility that some accidents will not be reflected in the history of the car is quite large.

Another service that allows you to find out the inside story of a car by its VIN is the register of pledge notifications on the website of the Federal Notary Chamber of the Russian Federation you can try to find out if the car is pledged, for example, at the bank. It should be noted that this database is also not yet characterized by absolute completeness of data, and in some cases, data on collateral may not be reflected.

Well, the fourth official service that provides information about a car by VIN is the website of the Russian Union of Motor Insurers. By going here and filling out the proposed form, you can get data on the existing OSAGO agreement for a car, and also check whether certain drivers are included in the number of persons admitted to driving under this agreement.

There are also non-state sources from which you can get information about the past of the car.

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