A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) serves as your car’s unique fingerprint. This mix of letters and numbers encodes key details of the vehicle’s characteristics and history. But in order to unlock this critical information, first you must find where vehicle manufacturers have placed the VIN on cars over the years.

What Does a VIN Number Look Like?

VIN numbers contain exactly 17 characters comprised of capital letters and numbers only. The format proceeds:

  • 1st digit – Country of origin
  • 2nd digit – Manufacturer ID
  • 3rd digit – Vehicle type
  • 4th-8th digits – Features and specs
  • 9th digit – Safety check digit
  • 10th-17th digits – Production sequence

This standardized arrangement makes the VIN a consistent identifier across all private passenger vehicles sold in the United States. Exceptions do exist for specialty vehicles like RVs and golf carts.

Where Should I Check for the Full VIN Number?

While the syntax stays uniform, the VIN hiding spots vary slightly among models. Check these common areas to locate the complete number:

  • Driver’s Side Dashboard A primary viewing place over the years, in modern cars the entire VIN prints visibly atop the dash through the lower left corner of the windshield. Some models stamp the number directly into the metal dash surface itself.
  • Front of Engine Block
    Lifting open the hood and scoping the front-right portion of the engine often reveals deep stamping or metal tags featuring the VIN in full. This pelican-like area offers open space among piping.
  • Driver’s Door Jamb/Lock Pillar Another classic VIN residence, on the sidewall where the driver’s front door latches upon shutting. Door strikers usually have stickers or metal ID tags with all 17 digits clearly listed for handy reference.
  • Glovebox Door Sometimes printed on stickers adhering to the inside of the glovebox door, along with other standard reference specs like recommended tire pressure, etc.
  • Front Right Quarter Panel/Fender Apron Less conspicuous spots like the indented right front fender provide overflow real estate in addition to prominent placements. Good for cross-checking digit accuracy if numbers fade over time on older cars.


Multiple Spots is Key Since VINs repeat in several locations, finding and cross-checking multiple sources helps resolve hard-to-read digits from grime or wear/tear over years. Reference your title paperwork and registrations too whenever verifying VIN in preparation for resale or vehicle history research down the road.