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How do I find my VIN number?

If you ever wondered where to find a vehicle's VIN number, check out our steps!

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The Big Picture
June 21, 2022

What is a VIN number?

A VIN number or a Vehicle Identification Number is a 17-character code consisting of numbers and capital letters. The number is specific and unique for every vehicle. It is your vehicle's distinct serial number, essentially a car's fingerprint. VINs allow car owners to see the vehicle's history report, find parts compatible for their car, and confirm a manufacturer recall. It is also a helpful tool if your vehicle gets damaged or stolen; the VIN number can be used to locate your car.

Your vehicle identification number is a tool to help vehicle owners better understand their motor vehicle and what they would need to do if a problem arose. The VIN can tell an owner the engine size, where the car was built, the model year, and even where the vehicle is manufactured. It also comes in handy if your car is a part of any safety recalls. Each VIN letter is unique and can tell you different information about your vehicle like the braking system, restraint system, and body style. VIN numbers can even come in handy for law enforcement agencies to help with stolen or damaged vehicles. Here are some steps for your to find your vehicle identification number.

Where is my VIN number?

Here are some common VIN number locations that you can easily find on cars.

1. Windshield

The primary location of a car's VIN number is usually on the driver's side of the car in the bottom right-hand corner of the windshield, where it meets the dashboard, which is typically called the door post. For the best view, you would need to be outside of the vehicle to see the VIN properly, which is usually written in a small font by the dashboard near the steering wheel.

2. Door jamb

If you cannot find the VIN on the windshield, you can locate it on the driver's side doorjamb, the part of the car where the door attaches to the frame of the vehicle on the driver's side door. With the door latches, open the driver side door, and on the inside of the car frame should be the VIN number and other important information like the model year and the vehicle's manufacturer. The VINs should be on a small plastic plate on the driver-side doorpost.

3. Underneath the hood

Another location is under your car's hood; the VIN plate is usually a black, white, or silver sticker near the car's engine bay. You can also find the VIN number on top of the radiator or in front of the engine block.

4. Registration card

Suppose you do not want to search your car to find the VIN number. In that case, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will have a copy of your vehicle identification number in their digital database alongside the vehicle history reports and other important information about your car.

5. Vehicle's insurance card

If, after all this, you still cannot find the VIN from these common locations, then you can find the VIN on your car's insurance card and with your insurance policy. The VIN is usually in your insurance documents.

Used cars and other important information

Here are other potential locations for your VIN. If you have a used car and the vehicle is from the 60s or 70s, then you can locate your vehicle's VIN Driver's Side Quarter Panel, which is the part of the vehicle where the rear door meets the trunk of the car.

You can get a free VIN check and vehicle history report through the DMV. Additionally, the DMV offers a free VIN database that you can access once you purchase the car. Much like a VIN check from the DMV, Consumer Reports and Experian offer customers vin background checks and give you information on the car's previous owners,

These reports can help identify problems the car may have, report any major accidents with the car like flooding or fires, and even identify if there are stolen parts on your motor vehicle. API also offers a VIN decoder, which helps you find what each character from your vin means.

On certain vehicles, one can also locate the VIN by the rear wheel, not the driver's side, directly above the wheel or underneath the spare tire. These are two possible locations for the VIN, but they are not a guarantee. The owner's manual is another potential location for the VIN, but again not the most common place to find it.