How to Decode a Volkswagen VIN Number

Written by tim boyum
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A Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN code, is a seventeen character alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies your vehicle. Because this code is unique, it is used on vehicle titles and registrations. The VIN code is marked on your vehicle in a number of different locations. It is on a plate mounted on your dashboard directly in front of the driver's seat that you can read through the windshield. The vehicle information stickers in the jamb of the driver's door and in the spare tire compartment include the VIN code. You can also find a full or partial VIN stamped into the firewall inside the engine compartment. Understanding the VIN code of your vehicle can tell you a lot about your Volkswagen.

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  1. 1

    Read the first three characters. These represent the manufacturers information. The first digit is the country code where "W" stands for Germany and "3" stands for Mexico. The second and third digit will always be "VW" for Volkswagen.

  2. 2

    Read the fourth and fifth characters. These represent the body and engine codes for the vehicle. These change depending on the model year of your vehicle.

  3. 3

    Read the sixth character. This character represents the safety restraint systems installed in your vehicle. Systems such as seat belts and airbags.

  4. 4

    Read the seventh and eighth characters. These represent the body type of your vehicle. Common ones are "3B" for Passats, "1H" for Golfs and Jettas, and "1E" for Cabrios.

  5. 5

    Read the tenth character. This represents the model year of your vehicle. This character increments every year. The letters "I", "O", "Q", "U", and "Z" are not used for model year designation and are skipped. For example, "P" stands for 1993, "R" stands for 1994, and "S" stands for 1995. Likewise, "Y" stands for 2000, "1" stands for 2001, and "2" stands for 2002.

  6. 6

    Read the eleventh character. This designated which factory manufactured your vehicle. An "E" means your vehicle was built in the Emden, Germany factory, a "W" means your vehicle was built in the Wolfsburg, Germany factory, and an "M" means your vehicle was built in the Puebla, Mexico factory.

  7. 7

    Read the final six characters. These are the sequence numbers of your vehicle's production run. The first vehicle built in a given year at a given location would have "000001" as the final six characters of its VIN. A vehicle with the final six characters of "010000" would be the ten thousandth vehicle of its model built at its manufacturing location.

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