How to Look Up a Vin for Engine Specs

Written by kathleen lake
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How to Look Up a Vin for Engine Specs
Finding your exact engine specs can be done by decoding your VIN. (luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from

Your car's engine specifications are encoded in its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your engine specifications will be important to know in many scenarios, including your car's repair and resale. Knowing how to look up your VIN and how use it to determine engine specifications can make that process easier.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Locate your VIN on your car's title and registration. If you don't have these documents available, you can most likely find the VIN on your car. Common places for it are on the steering column, the dashboard or the firewalls. If you can't find it, ask an automotive technician, who will know both common and uncommon places to look on your vehicle.

  2. 2

    Write down the year, make and model of your car.

  3. 3

    Get a decode key. The simplest source for decode keys is one of the websites that specialises in them. Use the decode key to determine what part of your VIN shows your engine type. A manufacturer decode key tells what numbers represent what features of your vehicle, depending on your car's year, make and model. Find your engine code, probably in the fourth through the ninth digits in your VIN, if your car is an American model. If it is an import, the engine block on your car itself may bear the code. In American models, the fourth through ninth digits hold encoded information that describe your car's engine type, body and brakes.

  4. 4

    Take your engine code to a website offering VIN information, an auto parts store, your vehicle's manufacturer or service at your dealership. Having the engine code will enable your resource to provide you with the exact specifications of your engine.

Tips and warnings

  • To get manufacturer's decoding keys, go to or
  • The following imports are likely to have their engine codes directly on the engine block: Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Honda, Toyota, Scion, Lexus, Land Rover and Porsche.

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