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May 1 2023

VIN Decoding solutions offer multiple levels of information for vehicle inquiries. Pattern-level VIN decoding provides information from the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI), Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS), the vehicle’s model year, and production plant. Option-level VIN decoding includes the serial number of the specific vehicle and often presents “as-built data” from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), such as installed options and packages, as well as the exact exterior and interior colors.

These two types of VIN decoding vary heavily in pricing and terms of use, so businesses that require a large-scale VIN decoding toolset need to be aware of which level of decoding they need to avoid revenue leakage and unnecessary restrictions. Below is a fast guide to understanding the key differences between pattern-level and 17-digit VIN decoding – if you would like more detail, DataOne has just released a whitepaper that provides an in-depth review of these two VIN decoding solutions. 

Complexity Comes with Costs

Decoding the VIN pattern, or “VIN squish,” can be far more cost-effective than decoding all 17 digits on a VIN number.  Option-level decoding is more expensive, since “as-built” data requires far more effort on the vendor’s back end to deliver and maintain.  An example of this difference in complexity is that 17-digit decoding requires API calls, while pattern-level VIN decoding can often be supported by a delivered file that can be hosted locally.

It's How You Can Use It

Pattern-level decoding has a minimal restriction on business use cases, but the “as-built data” derived from option-level VIN decoding can often require approval from the OEM. OEMs generally restrict 17-digit VIN data from use cases they believe would be detrimental to their business interests.  DataOne offers both OEM-supported as well as independently verified 17-digit records for many automobile brands, which does offer additional flexibility for businesses that require option-level decoding.  

Determining Your Business’ VIN Decoding Needs

Pattern-level decoding is often a good fit for most needs within the automotive industry. However, if a more granular level of depth would provide mission-critical benefits for your organization, or if a confirmed source of truth is required to sustain operations (such as insurance policy generation, financial transactions, or vehicle merchandising), then option-level decoding may well be the best choice. 

If you feel you need additional detail to make an informed decision about your VIN decoding needs, you can download our latest whitepaper by clicking the button below, or contact one of our data experts to determine the best fit for your business.


Patter-Level vs. Option-Level VIN Decoding

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