What Is a Car's VIN Number?


Quick Answer

A car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a serial code that serves as an identifier for that particular vehicle. Several countries use the VIN system to identify stolen vehicles, lemons and branded vehicles.

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What Is a Car's VIN Number?
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Full Answer

In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered that VIN numbers on cars driven in the United States be standardized to 17 characters. Prior to this date, the length of the VIN numbers varied by manufacturer. Standardized VIN numbers include information on the car's manufacturer, the model year and the place of construction. In the United States, VINs also contain information about the country in which the vehicle was manufactured. The Society of Automotive Engineers has established this portion of the coding system.

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