How to Decode a Mercedes Benz Serial Number

Written by paul lin
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How to Decode a Mercedes Benz Serial Number
(Paula Bronstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

In the mid-1950s, automobile manufacturers in the United States began creating a series of letters and numbers to identify characteristics of each vehicle. It wasn't until the 1980s that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required all automobiles, domestic or international, to have a fixed serial number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This universal coding of numbers and letters allows you to find out information about a Mercedes Benz that you would not be able to discern simply by seeing the car.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Locate your Mercedes Benz serial number on the upper-left corner of the dashboard on the driver's side, or on the inside panel of the driver's side door.

  2. 2

    Look at the first digit of the serial number. This number or letter tells where the body of your Mercedes Benz was manufactured. A "1" or "4" represents a United States origin, "2" for Canada, "3" for Mexico, "J" for Japan, "S" for England, "K" for Korea, "W" for Germany and "Z" for Italy origin.

  3. 3

    Move on to the second digit, which represents the manufacturer name. The letter for your Mercedes Benz should be represented by the letter "D."

  4. 4

    Examine the third digit in the serial number. This number will tell you the manufacturing division or vehicle type. The manufacturing division is the plant your Mercedes Benz came from and the type of vehicle classification such as passenger, mass transit, etc.

  5. 5

    Note the fourth through eighth digits of the serial number. Mercedes Benz will assign a letter or number for each unique attribute: body style, model, series and engine type. The digits will change depending on the different attributes produced by Mercedes.

  6. 6

    Find the tenth character in the series. This identifies your Mercedes model year. For example, a "1" represents 2001, "2" represents 2002 and so forth. If the year goes past 2009, it will be represented by letters. For example, "A' represents 2010, "B" 2011 and so forth.

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