All vehicle identification numbers, or "VINs," contain relevant details about the history of the vehicle including manufacturer, year of production and the model type. A valid VIN is always 17 characters in length and can be decoded through a variety of free resources online.
A vehicle's VIN can be found in a number of places depending on the specific make and model of the car. The number is most commonly located on a plate mounted to the dashboard near the driver's side of the windshield, but it may also be found on the doorpost of the driver's door or on the engine's firewall.
VIN characters follow a universal format which manufacturers are obliged to follow. The first character indicates where the vehicle was made. Characters two and three represent the manufacturer. Characters four through eight represent the vehicle brand, engine size and type. The fourth character is the brake or restraint system. Line, series and body type are defined by characters five through seven. Eight is for the engine type and nine is the manufacturer security authorization. Character 10 is the model year, 11 represents the assembly plant, and 12 through 17 is the production sequence number, or serial number.