How to decode a Ford VIN number

Updated March 23, 2017

The VIN, or vehicle identification number, system has been used worldwide since 1981. Many vehicles had serial numbers before 1981, but lack of industry regulation led to an overhaul of the system. The 17-digit VIN system allows each vehicle to be marked with a unique identification number, allowing vehicle registration and history to be tracked. Learn how to decode the VIN on your Ford vehicle.

Locate the VIN on your Ford vehicle. The VIN is stamped in many locations on the vehicle, the most accessible being on upper driver's side of the dash and on the inside door panel.

Note the first two places in the VIN. This is the country of origin, or where the vehicle was manufactured. This section will read SA to SM.

Find the second digit in the VIN. This represents the manufacturer--in this case, Ford. The second digit should be an "F," which is Ford's specific code. Some Ford vehicles, such as the Mustang, will be labelled with "Z." They are built by Auto Alliance, a joint venture between Ford and Mazda.

Locate digits 4 to 9. These are vehicle specific digits used to identify the specific Ford vehicle and its options. The fourth digit is a safety code, depending upon what safety equipment the vehicle has. The fifth digit is a vehicle code. For example, the digit "T" is used for the Ford Mustang. Digits 6 through 9 identify options and trim levels on the vehicle.

Locate the 10th digit in the VIN. This is the digit that identifies the vehicle year model. Starting with the 2001 year model, the year digit began with the number "1." The numbers were issued in an ascending sequence until the 2010 year model, when the beginning of the alphabet was used. Models from 2010 are represented by the letter "A." Prior to 2001, the 10th digit was represented by the alphabet in descending order. Models from 2000 were listed as "Y" and 1999 models were represented as "X."

Find the 11th digit, which lists the factory in which the vehicle was assembled. Ford has many factories in different countries of the world.

Find the last six digits, which represent the assembly sequence. A Ford vehicle with the digits "000001" would be the first of its kind to come off the assembly line.


Memorise the meaning of each digit to impress family and friends with your extensive automobile knowledge.

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About the Author

Leonardo R. Grabkowski has been writing professionally for more than four years. Grabkowski attended college in Oregon. He builds websites on the side and has a slight obsession with Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress.