What does the VIN stand for, is there some sort of VIN decoder?

A VIN is your car's version of a fingerprint. There is no randomness behind the 17 characters that comprise a VIN number. Each character, or combination of characters, possesses a specific identifying purpose. For example, the first character represents the vehicle's nation of origin. The number 1 means the United States and the number 2 signifies Canada. Whereas J represents Japan and G Germany. 

The second character signifies the car's manufacturer. The third character reveals the car's make. Characters four through eight carry a wealth of information, indicating the vehicle's body type, restraint system and engine code. The ninth character, known as the check digit, is used by experts to check for tampering. The 10th character represents the vehicle's model year (M stands for 1991, N for 1992, P for 1993...). The 11th character indicates assembly locations. And the remaining characters are production sequence numbers.

If you own a vehicle manufactured prior to 1981, its VIN will more than likely have less than 17 characters. It was not until 1981 that car manufacturers adopted a uniform code. 

For more help on solving the mysteries behind your vehicle's VIN, look into a VIN Decoder service. These can easily be found on the Internet. 

Or, better yet, consider running a VIN Check (also known as a Vehicle History Report)--it's fast and easy. This will give you everything you need to know about a vehicle: ownership sequence, accident history, prior use (taxi or rental), flood or hail damage, lemon history and emissions inspection results. This comes in very handy while buying or selling a used car or truck.

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