by Bob Beranek
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Have you ever wondered what all those numbers and letters on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) mean? One thing it doesn’t tell you (for sure) is which windshield fits in a particular vehicle. It is correct that if a vehicle has a single windshield option that is unique to a vehicle trim package or engine displacement, it may be noted in the VIN. However, do not think that the VIN is going to pick the windshield for you. It will help but it won’t be the only option every time.

The VIN is an alpha and numeric series of 17 characters found on the door jamb, dashboard and engine compartments. It differentiates one vehicle from another and is very much protected by governmental agencies. In other words, DO NOT cut it off or damage it in anyway or it will ruin your day.

1 G C F G 1 5 R 9 W 1 X X X X X X

The first digit (1) indicates the country of final assembly or origin. This can be either a number or letter depending on the country. Some examples are:

1, 4, 5  –           Unites States

2          –           Canada

3          –           Mexico

J           –           Japan

W        –           Germany

The second and third digits (GC) indicate the manufacturer and the vehicle type or division, respectively.

If there is a “glass” indicator section, it will be in the fourth through ninth digits (FG15R9). This section of the VIN is known as the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS). This section identifies the vehicle specifics and uses a check digit that confirms the VIN to be correct. The five digits can contain all of the information the vehicle manufacturer wants to know: model, body style, trim package, engine, transmission and more. This series of numbers are not standardized and is at the discretion of the manufacturers’ desires and needs for proper repair information of the vehicle.  The ninth digit (9) is the check digit with a special logarithm developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation to confirm the VIN to be legitimate.

The 10th digit from the left or the eighth digit from the right (W) is the vehicle’s model year.  This is one of the most used digits by auto glass professionals because it is the only true indicator of model year. Some technicians use the manufacturer date on the door jamb but that is not accurate, especially if there are half-year models. The VIN is the only correct model year indicator. Also note that the letters I, O and Q are never used in the VIN number.

A = 1980
B = 1981
C = 1982
D = 1983
E = 1984
F = 1985
G = 1986
H = 1987
J = 1988
K = 1989
L = 1990
M = 1991
N = 1992
P = 1993
R = 1994
S = 1995
T = 1996
V = 1997
W = 1998
X = 1999
Y = 2000
1 = 2001
2 = 2002
3 = 2003
4 = 2004
5 = 2005
6 = 2006
7 = 2007
8 = 2008
9 = 2009
A = 2010
B = 2011
C = 2012
D = 2013
E = 2014
F = 2015
G = 2016
H = 2017
J = 2018
K = 2019
L = 2020
M = 2021
N = 2022
P = 2023
R = 2024
S = 2025
T = 2026
V = 2027
W = 2028
X = 2029
Y = 2030
1 = 2031
2 = 2032
3 = 2033
4 = 2034
5 = 2035
6 = 2036
7 = 2037
8 = 2038
9 = 2039

 

The 11th digit (1) is the manufacturing plant in which the vehicle was assembled. This digit is also not standardized and is at the discretion of the manufacturer. It could be letters or numbers.

The remaining digits (XXXXXX) are the ones assigned to differentiate a particular vehicle. You could call it the serial number of the vehicle.

I hope this “simplified” explanation of a Vehicle Identification Number helps. There are a variety of apps you can download to your phone that are nice to have handy when you arrive at the customer’s vehicle. If you double check year, make, model and body style information before beginning work, it can save you time and money.