A vehicle identification number has 17 positions comprised of a sequence of numbers and letters. A VIN decoder chart matches the positions in a VIN number to the vehicle's manufacturer, description and identifier information.
The first number or letter of the VIN number identifies the country where the vehicle originated or its final place of assembly. Letters A though H identify cars made in Africa. Letters J though R are used for cars made in Asia, S through Z are cars made in Europe, and the numbers 1 through 5 are used for cars made in North America.
The second number or letter of the VIN number identifies the vehicle's manufacturer. The third position describes the type of vehicle, such as sedan or sports utility vehicle. The fourth through eighth digits of the VIN number describe the vehicle's model, engine, body and style. The ninth position does not convey any actual information about the vehicle. Instead, it is used as a digit check to verify that the VIN number is a valid VIN.
Positions 10 though 17 of the vehicle's VIN number provides the vehicle's identifier information. These positions correspond to the model year, the manufacturing assembly plant, the vehicle's production or serial number and other identifiers unique to the vehicle. Each manufacturer uses the identifier codes differently.