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How to Decode a 14-Digit VIN

Updated November 21, 2016

Decoding vehicle identification numbers (VIN) helps you to find many identifying factors of a vehicle. The conventional VIN in the United States has 17 alphanumeric characters. The confusion arises when the automobile in question has a 14-character VIN. Several European cars (like Mercedes-Benz) came with 14-character VINs from 1960 to 1983.

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  1. Find the VIN of your vehicle by checking the papers accompanying the vehicle. If you do not have the paperwork, you can find the VIN number stamped on the vehicle dashboard or the driver's-side door.

  2. Make a note of the first three digits on the VIN. These denote the chassis details of the vehicle.

  3. Make a note of the fourth digit of the VIN. This number will denote the type of fuel. The number 0 denotes petrol fuel and the number 1 denotes diesel fuel.

  4. Look at the fifth and sixth digits of the VIN. These digits denote the model of the car. Different manufacturers assign different digits.

  5. Make a note of the seventh digit of the VIN. This number denotes the driver's side of the car. Cars that have the driver's seat on the left have a 1, while cars with a driver's seat on the right have a 2.

  6. See the eighth digit of the VIN. This digit denotes the type of transmission of the car. Automatic transmissions are denoted by a 2 and manual transmissions by a 0.

  7. Make a note of the last six digits together as a set of digits. This set of digits identifies the vehicle apart from all other vehicles of the same make and model manufactured in the same plant.

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