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Dec 12 2011

VIN Decoding 101 Part 4: 15 common VIN terms defined

Like almost every area of expertise, VIN Decoding has unique terminology associated with it.  If you haven't worked with a VIN decoder or VIN data in the past, many of these term's meaning may not be intuitive.  Below are the definitions of 15 common terms that you will likely come across as you work with automotive and VIN data.

Body Subtype

VIN decoders, VIN check tools, and vehicle history reports all provide very valuable data that are integral to many automotive business processes, such as inventory management, insurance claims/warranty contracts, and vehicle service/repair. However, the data provided among these tools and services are not the same.

In this article, we've clarified some of the major areas of confusion between the three services by detailing their core functionalities.

Body Type

A more detailed description of the vehicle that sits under "Vehicle Type". For example, a "Vehicle Type" of Truck would include "Body Types" of "Pickup", and "Chassis". A "Vehicle Type" of Car could have "Body Types" of "Sedan", "Hatchback", "Coupe", "Wagon" and "Convertible".

Cab Type

Refers to the type of passenger compartment, or cab, on a truck. In light-duty trucks, this most often falls into the three generic categories - Regular, Extended and Crew. In addition, each manufacturer tends to assign a marketing name to their cab type - SuperCrew, King Cab, Double Cab, and CrewMaxx are some examples of these marketing names. The Cab Type is captured in the "Body Subtype" field for light duty trucks.

Drive Type

Describes the wheels that the engine provides power to. (FWD, RWD, 4X4)

Features and Options

VAdditional terms used to describe installed (features) and optional equipment.

Green Data

Vehicle information related to the environmental impact of the vehicle. Usually includes fuel efficiency as well as emission / pollution ratings. Our Green Data product includes EPA Green Scores and EPA MPG ratings.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

The maximum weight a vehicle is rated to carry by its manufacturer. This rating includes the weight of the vehicle, passengers, fuel and cargo. The VIN Pattern will often identify the GVW range (For example: 7001-8000) a light-duty vehicle falls within.

Vehicle Make

Refers to the brand the vehicle is sold under. In some cases this may be different from the manufacturer of the vehicle. For example, some medium-duty trucks branded as Chevrolet are manufactured by Isuzu.

Vehicle Specifications

This is an often used term in the industry. However, it can refer to more then one type of vehicle data set. Most often, it is used to reference the detailed attributes of a vehicle. This would include the technical specifications, the installed and optional equipment, colors, engine and transmission details. At times, people will also use the term to refer to the Technical Specifications of the vehicle only. This would include the vehicles weight, measurements and dimensions.

Vehicle Type

This refers to the general category of vehicle such as Car, Truck, Van, SUV and Motorcycle.

VIN Decoding

Process of extracting information from the Vehicle Identification Number. This can refer to only the information that is directly encoded into the VIN or can refer to VIN Explosion.

VIN Explosion

The process of tying additional information, not directly encoded in the VIN, to the vehicle. This can be done with no other input besides the VIN, or can be further enhanced by passing along additional information with the VIN, such as the vehicles Model Number or Package Code. If you require a detailed return of vehicle data you will need a service that does more then just decode the information encoded in the VIN. DataOne Software's VIN Decoder API Web Service is an example of a VIN explosion service.

VIN Pattern

This is the portion of the VIN where information is encoded. It includes positions 1-8, as well as positions 10 and 11 of the VIN. The VIN decoding done with most business applications is based solely off of the VIN Pattern.

VIN Squish

Another word for a VIN Pattern.

VIN Stub

This is a term used to describe a VIN Pattern that has been tied to a vehicle when the vehicles 17-digit VIN is not known. Commonly obtained by collecting basic vehicle information, and using it to power reverse lookup within a VIN database to identify a VIN pattern that would apply to that vehicle. This "VIN Stub" can then be used to initiate processes, for example insurance quotes, that require a VIN when the vehicles actual VIN is not available.

If you have some additional VIN or Automotive data terms that you would like to see defined, please add them to the comments section below!

Continue on to our next article VIN Decoding 101 Part 5:  10 Vehicle Details You Should Expect from a VIN Decoder

VIN Decoding 101: Article Index

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