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Engine & Transmission Tips • Issue 15

What Is A VIN?

May 14, 2021

Your VIN Number Speaks Volumes About Your Vehicle

Every production car manufactured in the United States has a VIN, or vehicle identification number. This 17 digit code is like a fingerprint of your automobile, as no two are the same.

As you can imagine, each digit, and it’s corresponding position in the code, contains specific details about the vehicle. Here’s the breakdown:

uth vin decode credit autocheck

  • The first character indicates where the vehicle was built
  • Characters 2 and 3 indicate who the manufacturer is.
  • Adding character 8 to 2 and 3, will tell you if the vehicle can use flexible fuels
  • Characters 4 through 8 explain the vehicle brand as well as the engine type and size
  • Character 9 is a security code character for authorized manufacturers
  • Character 10 indicates the model year of the car
  • Character 11 indicates the plant location that assembled the vehicle
  • Characters 12 through 17 are the vehicle’s actual serial number

With today’s technology, you can look up your VIN number and find a whole host of information about your car. A lot of it you may never have known. (Click on the image to the right to see a full-size version).

Fraser Engine Co. has a direct link for you to check your VIN number, right here:


uth vin decode resultsFrom the example image here, you can tell the manufacturer, make and model, year produced; the plant city, state, and country; the number of doors, the body class, the type of fuel and fuel delivery system; and even the air bag features.

But most importantly for Fraser, the VIN tells us exactly what engine belongs in your vehicle, including they model name, configuration, number of cylinders, and most important, the exact displacement or size of the engine.

You may notice in our example image that we ask you to copy the VIN decoder information page and send it to our sales office if you are planning to buy a remanufactured engine. We do this because it’s important for you to review the information for accuracy. Sometimes entering one wrong digit can still provide most of the correct information but not the right engine. So, this adds an additional layer of protection to your purchase by verifying the engine you’ve selected is the right one for your vehicle.

Some things to know about your VIN:

  • If it’s not exactly 17 digits long, your car is probably pre-1981. Prior to that model year, VIN numbers varied in length from 11 digits to 17.
  • Your VIN number can be in numerous places on your vehicle. Most commonly, it is stamped on a plate that is located right on your dashboard, on the driver’s side of the car. But many manufacturers stamp the VIN on the doors, parts of the frame, including the engine compartment, all to thwart chop-shops from “parting out” a stolen car.
  • Your VIN number can also tell you if your car has a safety recall in the last 15 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a lookup tool for this very reason.
  • VIN numbers do not always include trim-level of the vehicle, or information about the transmission.
  • Some RV’s (recreational vehicles) have two VIN numbers, one with information about the “coach” portion of the RV, and the other with info about the chassis.
  • Every VIN number encodes the country of manufacture, but the VIN standards are not the same in all countries.


Fraser Engine Rebuilders specializes in remanufactured engines. Any diagnostic computers in your car will operate exactly the same with our products. Visit our home page to find the right engine, if yours is ready to retire. They’re less expensive than you might think and come in different options and warranties!

Thinking about building a replica with an american-made engine? Fraser has the right engine ready for you!