How to Identify a Car by the Number Plate

Written by shanan miller | 13/05/2017
How to Identify a Car by the Number Plate
You can decode a VIN right from your computer. (laptop image by Jorge Figueiredo from

You can find out most of what you need to know about a car by its identification number (VIN). Only the last six numbers of a VIN are specially given to an individual vehicle. The rest of the characters offer details about the car, such as where it was built, the make and model, and the engine and transmission information. The vehicle's identification number plate is viewable from the outside of the car on the lower side of the driver's side windshield by the dashboard.

Go to the Decode This website (see Resources). It offers in-depth information about a vehicle from the VIN, including the original manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). The site is free to use.

Enter the VIN into the area provided at the top of the page. Click "Decode This" once you've verified the VIN is correct.

Read your results. You can view the year, make, model, engine and transmission size. Change the menu tab if you'd like to review standard or optional equipment for the vehicle.

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