How to locate your vehicle's VIN.

The car's vehicle identification number (VIN) is the identifying code for a SPECIFIC automobile. The VIN serves as the car's fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same VIN. A VIN is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer. The VIN can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage.

1

Check the dashboard. Most VIN plates appear on the lower left-hand side of the dashboard. Sit in the driver’s seat and look on the dashboard in front of the steering wheel. Alternately, you might be able to see the VIN easier by standing outside the vehicle and looking through the windshield.


•    The VIN should have 17 characters if the car was manufactured after 1981. 
•    Vehicles manufactured before that date had VINs from 11 to 17 characters. 
•    A typical VIN might read 1HGBM22JXMN109186.

An illustration of a Vehicle Identification Number on an automobile dashboard.

2

Check the front of the car frame. Sometimes, the VIN will appear on the car frame, near the windshield washer container. You should crouch down in front of the car on the driver’s side and check.

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3

Pick up the spare tire. The VIN sometimes appears underneath the spare tire, which is usually in the trunk.   Pick up the tire to check.

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4

Check the driver-side door. The VIN should also appear on the Federal Safety Certification Label which is in all new cars. This label should appear on the driver’s side door in the following places: 
•    On the driver-side doorpost. With the door open, check the spot where the door latches. It should be near the seatbelt return.
•    Inside the driver-side doorjamb. Open the door and look straight ahead. The VIN should be inside the doorjamb, where the mirror is located when the door is shut. 

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5

Peek in the rear wheel well. Crouch down beside the car, near the rear wheel on the driver’s side. Look up into the well, above the tire. The VIN might be located there, inside the wheel well. 

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6

Call the dealership or manufacturer. Call if you’ve looked everywhere but couldn’t find the VIN.  Give them the make and model of your car and ask where the VIN is located. They should be able to help.

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7

Look in front of the engine block. Pop open the hood and check the front of the engine. Some manufacturers affix a body plate that contains the VIN or a partial VIN (typically the last eight characters). This plate should be attached to the firewall inside the engine compartment.

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