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Oct 6 2021

This post has been republished with updates since its original publish date in July 2013

Quick access to complete and accurate vehicle specifications is necessary for many businesses in the automotive and allied industries. Firstly, I want to clarify that “vehicle specifications” can fit into more than one category. Some businesses may be looking to identify “construction” vehicle specs such as weights, dimensions, capacities, etc., while other businesses may be looking for “operation” and/or “performance” vehicle specs, including engine and transmission, standard and optional equipment, fuel economy, exterior, and interior colors, etc.

Regardless of which vehicle specs your business is looking to identify, scanning through OEM websites, vehicle manuals, or even your own internal management system/DMS often involves more effort than time allows. This is where VIN decoding comes in handy. Identifying vehicle specs by VIN number with the use of a VIN decoding solution is ideal for businesses working with several vehicle makes and models.

In this post, we’ve covered how your business can identify vehicle specs by VIN, which specs can be retrieved using a commercial VIN decoding solution, and which businesses will benefit from identifying vehicle specs by VIN.

How to identify vehicle specifications by VIN

Identifying vehicle specs by VIN is as simple as grabbing a VIN number and plugging it into a VIN decoder tool. Some VIN decoding services, typically those designed for commercial use, allow users to submit the VIN pattern (characters 1-8, 10, and 11) as well as the full 17-digit VIN. This feature is valuable for businesses that might not always have full VINs on hand.

Businesses working with VINs regularly will want to license a VIN decoding solution that can be integrated directly into their internal system or consumer-facing application(s). This can most easily and efficiently be accomplished using a VIN decoder API. Smaller businesses working with just a few VINs each month might consider purchasing/subscribing to a solution that has VIN decoding functionality baked in.

Identify Vehicle Specs by VIN:



Which vehicle specs can be identified?

Whether your business is looking for basic vehicle specifications or a comprehensive dataset with technical specifications, most commercial VIN decoding solutions should be able to identify many of these desired specs from VIN alone. While there is limited information encoded in a VIN, such as year, make, model, vehicle and engine type, manufacturing plant, etc., a complete VIN decoding solution can return many more fields through their VIN explosion process.

So which vehicle specs can be identified by VIN? Here’s a list of vehicle spec categories (with examples in each) that can typically be identified:
Specification Category Example
Basic Data Year, make, model, trim, vehicle type, body type, drive type, etc.
Engines Aspiration, displacement, fuel quality, oil capacity, stroke, valve timing, max hp, max torque, engine type, block type, cam type, cylinders, fuel type, etc.
Transmissions Type, gears, availability, etc.
Standard Specs Brakes, drivetrain, ext. dimensions, int. dimensions, seating, steering, weights and capacities, wheels and tires, etc.
Optional Specs Front tire description, front wheel diameter, rear tire description, rear wheel diameter, tire type, etc.
Standard Generic Equipment Audio system, in-car entertainment, telematics, doors, ext. features, lights, mirrors, roof, wheels and tires, windows, AC, comfort features, convenience features, instrumentation, seats, powertrain, suspension, airbags, brakes, safety, seatbelts, security, stability and traction, etc.
Optional Generic Equipment In-car entertainment, telematics, ext. features, comfort features, convenience features,  powertrain, safety, etc.
Exterior Colors Color name, code, RGB code
Interior Colors Color name, code, fabric type, RGB code
Safety Equipment ABS, airbags, brake assist, daytime running lights, electronic stability control, electronic traction control, tire pressure monitoring system, rollover stability control, etc.

Keep in mind that not all specs apply to each make and model, as some vehicle manufacturers allow more customization than others. Additionally, the amount of information that can be obtained by VIN will depend on the data provider. As mentioned, a commercial VIN decoding solution will be able to identify the majority, if not all, of these vehicles' specs, while an inexpensive or free VIN decoder will be more limited. Some of the most advanced VIN decoding solutions may also leverage OEM build data (Monroney label data) to determine optionally installed equipment and the exact vehicle color, rather than all color options.

Here's a free infographic available for download that you can reference in the future:

vehicle specs a commercial vehicle data provider can identify

Who benefits from identifying vehicle specs by VIN?

Many sectors of the auto industry benefit from the identification of vehicle specifications by VIN, including businesses involved with vehicle retail, transportation, risk assessment, servicing, and repair. Identifying vehicle specifications by VIN is a great way for businesses to assure they are obtaining the most accurate information. Data integrity is essential for all of these businesses and can easily be compromised without help from a highly accurate VIN database. 

Are you interested in leveraging a commercial VIN decoding solution for your business? We’d love to hear more about your business and how DataOne could help support your vehicle data needs.

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Learn more about the most common use cases in our follow-up article: 6 Businesses Who Benefit from Identifying Vehicle Specs by VIN


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