VW VIN Shopping Tips:
Know Your VIN & Get Exactly The RIGHT VW Repair Parts Every Time

Vehicle identification numbers (also called VINs) are critical pieces of information for identifying the exact VW you have and the engine that was put into it when it was built. A car‘s vehicle identification number (VIN) is the automotive equivalent of human DNA.

History of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

In the mid 1950s, American automobile manufacturers began stamping and casting identifying numbers on cars and their parts. The obvious purpose was to give an accurate description of the vehicle as mass production numbers were starting to climb to very significant numbers. Research has shown that early VINs came in all sorts of variations, depending on the car manufacturer.

In the early 1980s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began requiring that all road vehicles contain a 17-character VIN. This established the fixed VIN system for major vehicle manufacturers as it is known today and thus, created a unique "DNA" style number for each unique vehicle that rolled off the assembly line.

The Vehicle Identification Number was "officially" described in ISO Standard 3779 in February 1977 and last revised in 1983.

Explanation of Unique Identifiers Within Your VW's VIN

Vehicle identification numbers are standardized - all contain 17 characters. VIN characters may be capital letters A through Z and numbers 1 through 0; however, the letters I, O and Q are never used in order to avoid mistakes of misreading. No signs or spaces are allowed in the VIN.

The position of each letter or number in the VIN code reveals important information about where and when your VW was made, the type of engine it has, the model or series of the car, various equipment/attributes and its production sequence. Each character or digit has a particular purpose as follows:

1st Character: The 1st character of your VW's vehicle identification number identifies the country where it was manufactured.

VIN Character 1 - Manufacturing Country Codes

1 or 4

2

3

J

K

S

W

Z

USA

Canada

Mexico

Japan

Korea

England

Germany

Italy

2nd Character: The 2nd character in your VW's VIN specifies the manufacturer, for example:

VIN Character 2 - Car Manufacturer Codes

A

B

H

A

D

N

T

V

V

Audi

BMW

Honda

Jaguar

Mercedes

Nissan

Toyota

Volvo

VW

3rd Character: The 3rd character in your VW's vehicle identification number indicates the vehicle type or manufacturing division. This varies among car makes and models.

4th - 8th Character: The 4th through 8th characters in your VW's VIN reveals its features/attributes, such as body style, engine type, model, series, etc. Again, this varies widely among car makes, models and equipment.

9th Character: The 9th character in your VW's vehicle identification number is a VIN accuracy check digit, verifying the previous numbers within the VIN. This check digit is a single number or letter "X" used to verify the accuracy of the transcription of the vehicle identification number.

There is a precise method for obtaining the check digit; however, it is not relevant to our discussion here. Suffice to say that after all other characters in the VIN have been determined by the manufacturer, the check digit is calculated by carrying out a mathematical computation. The correct numeric remainder - zero through nine (0-9) will appear. However, if the remainder is 10 the letter "X" is used to designate the check digit value.

10th Character: The 10th character in your VW's VIN tells you the model year. (This varies somewhat among car manufacturers - see the chart in the "Here's How to Find Your Car's VIN" section below for specific locations by car make.)

VIN Character - Model Year Codes

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

A

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

J

K

L

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

M

N

P

R

S

T

V

W

X

Y

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

A

11th Character: The 11th character in your VW's vehicle identification number reveals the assembly plant for the vehicle.

12th - 17th Character: The 12th through the 17th character in your VW's VIN indicate the sequence of the vehicle for production as it rolled off the manufacturer's assembly line. The last four characters are always numeric.

These last six characters are perhaps the most critical portion of the VIN for most European cars. Because of mid-year production changes by car makers, these can be extremely important in identifying the proper part numbers for ignition, fuel, emission and engine components. These types of parts are often listed with the caveat that they fit vehicles up to a particular VIN or before/after a particular VIN sequence.

Here's How to Find Your VW's VIN

The table below will help you locate your VW's unique DNA - its unique vehicle identification number. VINs are normally located in several locations on a car, but the most common places are:

- On the door frame/door post of the front doors (usually driver's but sometimes passenger's)
- On the dash near the windshield
- On the engine itself (machined pad on front of engine)
- On the car's firewall
- In the left-hand inner wheel arch
- On the steering wheel/steering column
- On the radiator support bracket
- On your car's title, registration, guarantee/maintenance book or on the declarations page of your auto insurance policy

The following chart gives further information (by car line) on both the location of the VIN plate and which character in your VIN represents your year of production and specific engine. We have limited the listings to only import cars since those are the car lines in which Autohaus specializes. Those shown in blue are car makes for which we have extensive parts inventories.

Car
Make

Models

Location of VIN Plate

Year*
Code

Engine
Code

Acura

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

See Note A

Audi

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Top center of firewall

10th

See Note B

BMW

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right inner fender

10th

See Note A

Daihatsu

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Firewall

10th

8th

Honda

All

Left windshield post (thru windshield)
Top right of firewall

10th

See Note A

Hyundai

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

8th

Infiniti

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Firewall

10th

4th

Isuzu

Pickup
All others excl. above

Left door post
Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th
10th

8th
8th

Jaguar

All (thru '84)

All ('85-On)

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Firewall, Left door post
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Firewall, Left door post

10th

10th

5th

8th

Lexus

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

4th

Mazda

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

See Note A

Mercedes
Benz

All (thru '85)
All ('86-On)

Left windshield post (thru windshield)
Left windshield post (thru windshield)

See Note D
10th

See Note A
See Note A

Mitsubishi

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

8th

Nissan

Axxess, Van

Pickup, Pathfinder

280Z, ZX

All others excl. above

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Front left floor panel
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right inner fender
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right strut housing
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Firewall

10th

10th

10th

10th

See Note C

See Note C

See Note C

See Note C

Porsche

All

Left windshield post (thru windshield)

10th

See Note A

Rover

NA

NA

NA

NA

Saab

All (thru '83)

All ('84-On)

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Left door post, Right inner fender
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Left door post, Right inner fender

10th

10th

7th

8th

Subaru

All

Left windshield post (thru windshield)

10th

6th

Suzuki

'86-88 Samurai
All others excl. above

Left door post
Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th
10th

6th
6th

Toyota

All

Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

4th

VW

Vanagon

Dasher, Quantum

Fox, Passat, Golf,
Jetta, Rabbit, Scirocco

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right door post
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right inner fender
Left side of dash (thru windshield)

10th

10th

10th

See Note B

See Note B

See Note B

Volvo

240, 260

All others excl. above

Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right inner fender
Left side of dash (thru windshield)
Right radiator fender

10th

10th

6th, 7th

6th, 7th

Footnotes

Note A

Cannot determine the engine through the VIN code.

Note B

Cannot determine the engine through the VIN code.
On certain models for certain years the engine may be determined by the 5th digit.

Note C

Cannot determine the engine through the VIN code.
On certain models for certain years the engine may be determined by the 2nd digit.

Note D

Cannot determine the model year through the VIN code.

Return To Top of Chart

* See Year Codes Chart to interpret this character

Online VIN Decoders To Help You

If you'd like to have your VIN "decoded" for you, there are several resources on the Internet that can be of assistance. By knowing your VIN, these resources can tell you some very specific information about your VW that can help you in your search for the right repair parts:

VIN Power: Input your email address and your VW's VIN in the boxes and complete information on your unique car will be emailed to you.

CarFax Vehicle History Reports: Enter your VW's VIN in the box where it says, "Get started now with our FREE CarFax Record Check. Enter a VIN and click Search." You'll be provided online with several important pieces of information about your specific VW's features.

AnalogX VIN View: AnalogX VIN View is another free online VIN decoder that allows you to see the information about your VW based on your car's vehicle identification number. VIN View supports decoding of any vehicle identification number that was issued after 1978. Just enter the 17-character VIN number and click decode. On the decoded page, you'll see your VIN again and the position of each character, then on the bottom portion you'll see what position and characters map to what information.

Vehicle Identification Numbers: This is another good source for information in your car's VIN. Just select the car line(s) for which you're interested in seeing VIN explanations and you'll be transferred to site(s) that can help you in your decoding quest.

Help Us to Help You Find the Exact VW Repair Parts You Need

Autohaus' goal is to provide you with exactly the right part for your VW as quickly and concisely as possible - the right part number and the right OE brand. You can help us do our job faster and more accurately by identifying your VIN and updating your vehicle data in the Members Only Area to include this information.

By providing Autohaus with the correct VIN for your VW, you are helping us to properly identify the exact part numbers needed for your VW auto repairs. Without it, you may be inadvertently slowing down the process of identifying these parts numbers and/or exposing yourself to the possibility of receiving the wrong parts.

Your vehicle identification number is important in correctly identifying repair parts that will fit your VW precisely! In fact, it's probably the fastest way for you and us to identify key characteristics of your VW that will help us to determine the correct part numbers for all your repair jobs.

With the information provided above, there really is no reason why you wouldn't know all the relevant information about your car, right? Now that you have your VW's vehicle identification number, why not

Log Into Your Member Profile

and select Update Vehicle Data from the Your Vehicles drop-down menu so you can put this critical piece of information into your record for all your future parts requests?

While you're there, it sure would be helpful if you would also verify the other information shown for each of your cars. Remember: The more car info you provide, the more accurate our responses to your parts requests!

 

Don't Forget:

Repair articles are added regularly.
Come back often to check for new maintenance topics.

These repair tips are designed only as a starting point.
Please seek the assistance of a professional VW mechanic
for all repair problems beyond your capabilities.

Return to VW Parts Repair Tips


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