To find out a particular car's engine type, the driver should know the vehicle identification number, or VIN. The VIN contains 17 characters, and the characters in positions four through nine are the vehicle descriptors, which give information like the car model, body type and engine code. By entering the VIN into an online VIN decoder search tool, a car owner can find the engine type.
The VIN is found stamped on different parts of a vehicle, such as on the driver's side at the lower edge of the windshield, the door frame on the driver's side and at the front section of the engine block. With the VIN and a decoder tool, all the pertinent information for any car made after 1981 is found, including the car manufacturer, model year and assembly location.