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10 Vehicle Details You Should Expect from a VIN Decoder

It is not uncommon for some of the people that express interest in our VIN data to have little experience with automotive data in the past.  They may be new to the company, position or they may be looking to apply an existing business model in a new way that requires a VIN decoder or vehicle data.  Many times these people are not quite sure what to expect to get in return from decoding 17 digit VINs.  Below are a list of 10 things that you can expect to be returned when decoding US Passenger and Light-Duty Vehicle Identification Numbers.


  1. Model Year - this is required to be identified by the 10th digit of the VIN (With a little help from the 7th digit)
  2. Country of Origin - the first digit of the WMI section of the VIN will identify the country where the vehicle was manufactured.
  3. Manufacturer and Manufacturing Plant - The manufacturer of the vehicle is identified within the WMI by the 2nd and 3rd digits of the VIN.  The 11th digit is used to identify the plant that produced the finished vehicle.  It is required by law (NHTSA and Transport Canada) to be included in the information provided by the VIN.  This enhances traceability if quality and/or safety issues are discovered with the vehicle.
  4. Brand or Make - This is the badge the vehicle is sold under.  As an example, VW is the brand the Routan Minivan is sold under, while Chrysler is the manufacturer.  The Brand/Make used to be identified uniquely within the WMI. Since model year 2010, the 4th digit can be required to identify the vehicles Brand/Make.
  5. Vehicle Type - Captured consistently in the VIN.  Was required to be captured in the WMI in the past, but since model year 2010 it is required to be captured in the VDS.
  6. Engine - The VIN pattern is specific to a unique engine from the OEM. Engine block, cylinders, number of valves and displacement are always specific to VIN, while aspiration and fuel type almost always are specific. However, there may be minor differences in the horsepower, torque and other technical details of the engine that may not be VIN specific. 
  7. Drive Type - The different variants of driven wheels available to the vehicle are almost always captured in the VIN.  As an example, the F-150 has unique VIN patterns that identify the 4X2, 4X4 and AWD drivetrain variants available on the model.
  8. Body Style and Doors - When a Year/Make/Model combination has more then one Body Type, Cab Type or door combination, each variant is captured by unique elements of the VIN Pattern.
  9. Restraint - The VIN does not usually capture all details of the passive (think seat belts) and active (think airbags) restraint system, however it does identify at a general level the restraint systems installed on the vehicle.
  10. GVW Range - Though the GVW Rating and curb weight of the vehicle are not VIN specific, the GVW Range or "Tonnage" category of the vehicle is.  This allows you to identify the category (Light, Medium or Heavy-Duty) or "Tonnage" of the vehicle.  This is most often useful for Insurance and Extended Service Contract/Warranty providers.  As this value is often factored into the quote provided to a potential customer.


In addition to the above vehicles details, that are tied directly to the VIN Pattern, DataOne Software is able to use our industry and OEM specific relationships and expertise to add valuable details to the VIN reference.  This may be data that is specific to a unique vehicle style that is decoded by the VIN.  In cases where more then one vehicle style is tied to the VIN Pattern, common details, like upholestry or safety features tht are shared between a number of vehicles, can be returned.  For more information on these capabilities please follow the links below to our product page:

VIN Decoder Web Service

Vehicle Specifications and Descriptions Data

Or continue on to our next article on the kind of data not decoded in the VIN

VIN Decoding 101: Article Index

Topics: Common Data, VIN Data, Body Style, GVW Range, Restraint, Vehicle Type, Drive Type, Manufacturer, Model Year

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