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10 Vehicle Details Not Decoded By The VIN Pattern

The New generation of VIN Decoders handle a lot more then decoding the VIN Pattern. If you were alive in the late 1980's and early 1990's and hear mention of the spaghetti sauce brand "Prego", you almost certainly will think of their catch phrase "It's in there!"  No matter what desired ingredient was asked about in Prego's TV adds the response was, of course, "It's in there!".  Often times we have potential customers approach us hoping to be able to determine a specific detail or attribute of the vehicle using only the vehicle identification number.  While decoding a VIN can return a large amount of useful information, there are a lot of vehicle details that you are not going to be able to determine from a basic decode of the VIN Pattern alone. 

Below are a list of commonly inquired about vehicle details that the VIN Pattern is not going to capture or capture consistently.


  1. Trim - The information encoded into the VIN pattern does not consistently identify the vehicles Trim.  However, there are a number of VIN's that are trim specific.  This happens mostly with passenger vehicles, and is most common with luxury cars.  Even then, the VIN is not consistently Trim specific across most model years for a given make.  For Light-Duty Vehicles, the VIN is rarely trim specific.  As a result, if you need to consistently identify trim you will often need to collect information on the vehicle in addition to VIN.
  2. Color - Unless you are decoding a "Model T", the paint color of the vehicle is not encoded in the VIN pattern.  (P.S. - If you are decoding a Model T Ford the paint color is black.)
  3. Interior color - While there are some models and trims, identified by the VIN, that may only have a single color choice, the VIN pattern does not identify color and can't reliably be used on it's own to identify interior color.
  4. Upholstery - Some VIN's may identify the vehicles upholstery indirectly by identifying a model, or possibly a trim, that only has one upholestry option.  However, it is not something that you can depend on being able to ID using only the VIN
  5. Features - The VIN pattern does not capture the features, or standard equipment, of the vehicle directly.  However, most data providers can use the vehicle details identified by the VIN pattern to provide a list of standard equipment tied to the vehicle.
  6. Optional Equipment - The VIN pattern does not capture the optional equipment installed on vehicle. 
  7. Curb Weight  - This is an important value for vehicle transport logistics.  When a VIN is specific to a style, or trim, a base curb weight can be determined.  However, optional equipment added to the vehicle can change this value by hundreds of pounds so it should be included as a point of reference rather then an exact wieght of a vehicle being transported. 
  8. GVWR - While the VIN Pattern does identify the Gross Vehicle Weight Range of Light-Duty Vehicles and MPVs, it does not identify the more specific Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
  9. Price - Since the Trim and optional equipment installed on vehicles are not identified by the VIN Pattern, it cannot be used alone to provide an accurate MSRP of the vehicle as sold.  The VIN also does not encode the original sale price of the vehicle since it is assigned during the manufacturing process. (This may seem painfully obvious, but it is a question that has come up before.)
  10. Transmission - Transmission is rarely encoded in the VIN pattern.  It can often times be tied to a VIN pattern, when the pattern identifies an engine and model (and possibly the trim) combination that are available with only one transmission.  In recent years, there have been much fewer vehicles offered with a manual transmission.  This has resulted in more and more VIN Patterns being transmission specific, though it is not directly encoded in the Pattern.

The good news is that, while the VIN Pattern itself does not identify them, it is a great starting point in identifying the above vehicle details.  A full service automotive data provider can utilize their expertise, and the additional data they have aggregated, to tie much more detail to the VIN then what is actually encoded.

Further, advanced VIN decoders are able to accept multiple inputs in addition to the VIN, and use these data points to enhance the precision and depth of vehicle details returned.  When available Manufacturer Model, Color, Option and Package codes can be used to determine all details of vehicles decoded.  This data is often available in dealers DMS for new and certified pre-owned vehicles, and can be extracted from the DMS and used as input along with the VIN to be decoded. 

The most advanced vehicle decoders can use or operate independant of VIN. They use logic and seasoned algorithms to accept all codes as well as non-normalized vehicle and equipment descriptors.   All inputs are then used to identify the specific vehicle configuration and provide a more detailed return that can be specific to trim, color and installed optional equipment.  DataOne Software's VIN Decoder Web Service is an example of a powerful decoding service that can accept and utilize all the above mentioned inputs, including or independant of VIN, to return industry leading precision, detail and depth of vehicle data. For a more detailed overview of advanced vehicle decoding please click on the hyperlink to our article on decoding more then the VIN.

If you are looking for more information on the VIN decoding services available from DataOne please click on the button below.




Click here to check out our article Ten Vehicle Details You Should Expect From Any VIN Decoder

Or check out the rest of our series on Vehicle Identification Numbers by clicking on the following link:  VIN Decoding 101 Article Index

Topics: vin decoding, vin decoder, VIN Decode, Vehicle Decode, Decode options, Decode Optional Equipment

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