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All about your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)! How to decode it and where to find your VIN Number!

January 10, 2020 3 min read

You may always be asked for your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) when you take your vehicle in for service or when you're applying for insurance, etc. But what exactly is this number and where do I find it?

Mazda Miata VIN
(Example of a Mazda Miata VIN, source: Google)

Every vehicle has a VIN as it's the identification code for that specific vehicle. Each VIN is specific to a vehicle, and no two vehicles in operation will have the same VIN. The VIN is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) and you can determine the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer from the VIN! You will also notice that the VIN is very useful when it comes to tracking recalls, owner registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage. But what if your VIN isn't 17 characters long? Double-check to see if you counted the correct numbers down, otherwise that VIN belongs to a pre-1981 vehicle. Prior to 1981, VINs varied in length from 11 to 17 characters. 

Mazda RX-2 VIN Plate
(Compare the differences in this VIN from a 1973 Mazda RX-3 to that of the Miata! Source: Google)


So how do you read this jumble of letters and numbers?

Mazda VIN Decode
(Mazda VIN Decode, Source: Google)

 Using the image above, you can decode the VIN in sections.

The first 3 digits are the World Manufacturer Identification.
The 4th and 5th digits are the Car line and Series
The 6th digit is the Restraint System
The 7th digit refers to the body style
The 8th digit refers to the engine
The 9th digit is a Check Digit, which is a security code that identifies the VIN as being authorized by the manufacturer
The 10th digit is the Model Year of the Car
The 11th digit indicates which plant that assembled the vehicle
The 12th - 17th digits are the Serial number of the vehicle. 

To simplify,

VIN Digit  Meaning
1st digit Country
2nd digit Region/Maker
3rd digit Vehicle Type
4th digit Vehicle Attributes
5th digit Vehicle Attributes
6th digit Vehicle Attributes
7th digit Vehicle Attributes
8th digit Vehicle Attributes
9th digit Check Digit
10th digit Year
11th digit Assembly Plant
12th digit Sequential Number
13th digit Sequential Number
14th digit Sequential Number
15th digit Sequential Number
16th digit Sequential Number
17th digit

Sequential Number



Now that you're able to decode your VIN, where can you find your VIN? 

There are a few places where you can find your VIN!

On the vehicle itself, you can find the VIN by standing outside the vehicle on the driver's side and look at the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield. 
Mazda VIN location on dashboard
(Mazda VIN location on dashboard, Source: Mazda Canada)

You can also find it by opening the driver's door and look at the door post and you should see a label with your VIN along with the recommended tire pressure and your vehicle's colour code. 
Mazda VIN on Driver's Door Jamb
(Mazda VIN location on driver's door jamb, Source: Mazda)

Aside from these 2 areas, you can find your VIN on your insurance card and your vehicle title and registration! 


Now that you know the importance of your VIN and where to find it, you will not be stunned when someone asks you for your VIN. When we ask for your VIN number, we can enter your VIN into our Mazda Parts Catalogue and it'll bring up the specific parts that are correct for your vehicle so you'll never buy the wrong part from us!