Decoding Your Toyota VIN

Decoding Your Toyota VIN

Though a vehicle identification number – or VIN – may seem unimportant compared to other vehicle elements, like options or road performance, it denotes important details about its history and specifications.

Whether you're in the process of buying or selling a used Toyota and want to run a history check or would like to know more about the one you own, knowing how to decode a vehicle's VIN is a valuable skill. 

When you want to delve deeper into the details of a specific Toyota, a simple way to do so is by decoding the VIN. With this information, not only will you learn more about the individual vehicle, but you can also learn about its history, like who's owned it and if it's been in any accidents.

Let's look at the elements of vehicle identification numbers and how to decode a Toyota VIN.

What is a vehicle identification number?

Just like a person's DNA, manufacturers assign each vehicle its own unique VIN. There are no two VINs alike. 

A vehicle identification number is composed of a series of 17 numbers and capital letters on a single line, denoting information like a car's country of origin, manufacturer, model, engine code, features, and model year. 

A common location for a car's VIN is on the dashboard in front of the driver, though sometimes it's located elsewhere. The VIN may be located on the driver's side doorjamb, the inside of the hood, or the engine on certain vehicles. You can also find the VIN on the vehicle title or insurance documents. 

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The specific parts of a vehicle identification number

Though a VIN consists of 17 numbers and capital letters, specific sequences within it signify different things.

The first three characters of a VIN indicate the world manufacturer identifier (WMI). The first character denotes the country of origin. The second represents the manufacturer. In many cases, an auto company's unique identifier is simply the first letter of their name, like a B for BMW or a G for General Motors. The third symbol of the WMI is the car's type or manufacturing division. 

Characters four through eight of a VIN describe a vehicle in further detail, noting the model, engine code, transmission, restraint system, and body type.

Digit nine is a "check" symbol used to find invalid VIN's using a formula designed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Characters 10 through 17 show additional aspects of a specific vehicle. This sequence denotes data like model year, manufacturing plant, and production sequence numbers.

Running a vin check

Not only does a VIN provide you with essential details about a car's origin, manufacturer, and features, you can also use it to research a vehicle's owner history, past accidents, and repairs.

Free VIN lookup tools are available on the internet – such as vehiclehistory.com – and provide an assortment of information like specifications, safety features, and warranty.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN check tool that shows whether a vehicle's ever been stolen or damaged to the point of being issued a salvage title. Each area of research protects you from buying a car you shouldn't buy.

If you need more in-depth information, paid vehicle history report websites delve deeper into a unique car's history, providing you with everything you need to know.

Reputable paid sources like Carfax and Autocheck give you past owners, accident history, service history, and whether a vehicle was for personal or business use.

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Toyota vin lookup

When you zero in on the Toyota of your choice, be it a Corolla or a 4runner, and want to know more about its features and history, it's time to perform a VIN lookup. With Toyota being one of the largest automotive manufacturers globally, it's valuable to know the unique details of the specific model you plan to buy. 

Using either a free service like vehiclehistory.com or a paid one like Carfax, you'll see valuable details about specific options, previous owners, and repairs. When you shop with Shift, you receive access to a full Carmax report before you decide to buy, too.

With this information at hand, you have the reassurance you're buying a vehicle with no hidden accidents or questionable history. 

With a Toyota VIN lookup, you'll also learn about safety recalls and warranties. 

From January 2015 to March 2016, Toyota performed recalls on more than 8 million vehicles in the U.S. due to safety concerns. When considering purchasing a used Toyota, it's essential to know if this recall applied.

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Decoding your toyota vin in summary

The VIN on a Toyota vehicle provides you with valuable details about its country of origin, manufacturer, model and body style, engine, and year of    

manufacture. 

When you do a used Toyota VIN lookup, not only do you receive this information, but you also learn significant aspects of its history like past owners, accidents, and repairs. You're also alerted to any thefts or title issues. 

If you're buying used, a Toyota VIN gives you the reassurance you're purchasing a quality vehicle you can trust for the miles ahead. A Toyota VIN lookup also ensures options listed by a seller are, in fact, present. 

Or, if you currently own a Toyota, learning more about what makes it unique can be an informative experience. Finding out the specific factory that manufactured it or the vehicle's engine code tells you more about what sets it apart from the rest.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team