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How To Decode Toyota VIN Numbers

Updated November 21, 2016

Your Toyota's VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is somewhat like a fingerprint in that no two are alike. Besides providing identification, the VIN contains specific information about your car, if you know how to decode your Toyota's VIN.

VINs contain 17 characters, both letters and numbers. US law requires that VIN characters represent specific information ranging from where your Toyota was manufactured to what type of braking system your car has. Decoding these characters will yield a wealth of information about your Toyota.

Locate your Toyota's VIN number. Check the car title or registration first. If those documents are not available, check your Toyota. A plate stamped with your Toyota's VIN may be found on the inside of the driver's door, the firewall or under the carpet on the passenger's side.

Check a VIN chart to decode the VIN. Several are available online (see Resources). The first three characters in your Toyota's VIN will confirm that your car is indeed a Toyota and tell you where your Toyota was manufactured.

Find your model, body type, engine size and more from the fourth through eighth characters of your Toyota's VIN. An online decoder (see Tips and Resources) can be the better choice for decoding this part of your Toyota's VIN. The ninth character is a check digit, used by the US Department of Transportation to confirm that your Toyota's VIN is valid.

Determine your Toyota's model year. To check this, find the 10th character in your VIN and check the model year portion of the chart to verify your Toyota's age.

Find the actual plant that manufactured your Toyota. Check the 11th character for this information. An online decoder (see Tips and Resources) works best for decoding this VIN character. The 12th through 17th characters of your VIN are assigned by the manufacturer to uniquely identify your Toyota.

Tip

Online VIN decoders are available (see Resources). Type in your Toyota's VIN number then click the submission button. If you have difficulty in determining which characters are used in your VIN, remember that the letters I, O and Q are never used.

Warning

Your VIN can only give you information that was accurate at the time your car was manufactured. If you are thinking about purchasing a used Toyota, have it checked by a mechanic.

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About the Author

Monika Weise has been a writer of both fiction and nonfiction since 1988. Her diverse experience includes publishing fiction in "Secrets" magazine, writing plays for the Live Wires acting group and creating manuals for area businesses. Weise is working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.