All production vehicles made for sale in America have a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, that identifies them. The VIN number is not just a random serial number. It is more equivalent to a DNA strand. Learning to read the code will give you a wealth of information about your Mercedes MI320. It can also open up a window which will allow you to search the car's history if you bought it used.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- VIN number of your Mercedes MI320
Read the first three characters of the VIN number. These are the World Manufacturer's Identification. The first character identifies the country in which the Mercedes was manufactured. Most Mercedes sold in America were made in America, Germany or Canada. The second character in your VIN will identify the manufacturer. On a Mercedes, this should always be a "D." The third character identifies the type of Mercedes it is, specifically an MI320.
Read characters four through eight. These are codes which will tell you attributes of the car as originally manufactured, such as body style, engine type, model and series level among other attributes. What these numbers mean differ among different manufacturers, so you must look specifically at Mercedes decoding to understand what they mean on your MI320.
View the ninth character. This is a check digit that manufacturers and regulatory officials can use to confirm the accuracy of the first eight characters.
Examine the tenth character. This identifies the model year of your Mercedes. This is particularly useful when buying a used car, as it allows you to confirm that the year of the vehicle is as represented by the seller.
Look at the eleventh character. This identifies the plant at which your MI320 was manufactured. This is another of the numbers that has different meanings, depending on the manufacturer, so you need to use a specific Mercedes decoding key to accurately identify the manufacturing plant.
Check characters 12 through 17. This is called the Vehicle Identifier Section and is purely a serial number.
Tips and warnings
- The fourth through eighth and the eleventh characters are manufacturer-specific. They mean different things with each manufacturer, so you cannot use a universal interpretation key on them. All other characters can be decoded with a universal key. With a used Mercedes MI320, reading the VIN code can tell you whether the equipment on the car is as originally manufactured.
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