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Car Identifiers: How to find VIN and Engine Number

When a new car or a used car is purchased, the first things we notice and enquire about are the design, model, features, colour, engine capacity, and mileage, but what we forget to check is the engine number and the chassis or VIN number (also called Vehicle Identification Number).

Why are the engine and VIN numbers equally important? While purchasing a new or a used car from a dealer it’s difficult to tell whether it’s a one-year-old or six-month-old car that has been sold. This is when the engine and the VIN are important as it is a unique identification number of a car. The 17-digit VIN is unique for every car and helps identify the manufacturer, when it was manufactured, and other details. There will never be two similar VINs. But it is a challenge to find out where these numbers are on the car. Thus, it is necessary to know about car identifiers. Read on to find out how to locate the VIN and the engine number, and what each character signifies.

What do 17-digits in Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) signify?

There are 17 characters in the VIN and each character signifies particular information, and these digits are standard for all vehicles and manufacturers. What each number and character represent is described below – 

First Three Digits

The first digit in the VIN represents the country in which the vehicle is built. The first character could be a digit or a couple of alphabets or a combination of both. For instance, in India, if any vehicle is built, the VIN will start from MA-ME and MZ. The second and third digits provide details of the manufacturer. 

The combination of the first three characters is known as WMI (World Manufacturer Identifier) which tells about the manufacturer of the vehicle. In certain cases, the third character can also denote the manufacturer and also in some cases the type of vehicle. The first three letters also signify the division of the manufacturer in which the vehicle was made. 

Fourth to Eighth Digits

These denote the car’s brand, model, body type, engine type, engine capacity, and fuel type of the vehicle. In the VIN the eighth position is specifically used for denoting the type of engine of the vehicle.

Ninth Digit

The ninth character or digit denotes the security code given by the manufacturer or in some cases also denotes the month in which the car was manufactured.

Tenth Digit

The Tenth character or digit symbolises the year of manufacture of the vehicle. It is represented by an alphabet, allocated to each respective year since 1981.

Eleventh Digit

This character symbolises the manufacturing plant of the vehicle model. 

Remaining Six Digits

The remaining six digits are known as the unique serial number which acts as the next important detail of vehicle identification.

How to find a VIN number in a car?

The VIN or the Chassis Number, is a unique identification number of a vehicle given by the vehicle manufacturer. The chassis number is used by the authorities at the vehicle registration office to register a vehicle. The 17-digit number of a particular vehicle helps to distinguish itself from other motor vehicle models and makes. The different ways to find the chassis or VIN number are given below: 

Registration Certificate

After a new car is purchased, it has to be registered at the local RTO and this is when the RTO prints the vehicle’s chassis number on the Registration Certificate for the new vehicle. The information will be available on the Smart Card as well along with the other information of the vehicle.

Dashboard

In certain cases, some car manufacturers print the car’s VIN on the dashboard, usually found on the driver’s side. 

Door

A car’s chassis number can also be found printed on the driver side of the door and is always printed on a metal strip found on the B-pillar of the car. The chassis number on the metal strip is usually seen when the driver side of the door is opened.

Hood

The car’s VIN number is also present under the vehicle’s hood, located beside the car’s engine.

Boot

The chassis number of the car can also be located under the spare wheel of the boot. 

Rear Wheel

In certain cases, some car manufacturers will print the chassis number above the rear wheel of the car. 

Car Dealership

To find the VIN number one can easily visit or call the car dealership branch from where the car was purchased.

Insurance Policy Document

When the car is insured or insurance is renewed, the VIN number is mentioned on the Insurance policy paper. With digitalisation, the insurance document is available in your email account as well and one can easily check the chassis number from the insurance paper. 

Front Grille

One can also check under the front grille of their vehicle to check for the Chassis number as some manufacturers or car models who get the chassis number or the VIN printed under the front grille of the vehicle.

How to identify your car engine number?

A car engine number is usually found printed on the vehicle’s engine chasing and is used for identification purposes. Here is how you can find the engine number of your car. 

Engine:

The engine number is seen on the body of the car’s engine and is clearly visible when one opens the hood of the car as it is printed on a metal sticker. 

Registration Certificate:

The engine number of a car is printed on the Registration Certificate when the car gets registered at the local RTO. 

Insurance Policy Document:

The car insurance policy has the engine number as well as with the chassis number. 

Car Dealership:

One can also visit the car dealer from where the car was purchased to call the dealership to find information regarding the engine number as they would be able to track the engine number of the vehicle. 

Owner’s Manual:

One can also refer to the owner’s manual for finding the location of the engine number as it might differ per model. One can find the engine number stamped by the car manufacturers on  the engine block of the vehicle.

How to get vehicle details online?

The vehicle details can be located on the  parivahan website launched by the MoRTH where one can easily get information regarding the vehicle details online through the registration details in the vahan portal. But in order to protect the user data, the portal will never provide the entire engine and chassis number of the vehicle you will be searching for. Read below to find out how to proceed with the steps while trying to get information of a vehicle from the vahan portal:

  • Step 1: Visit the official website of VAHAN 
  • Step 2: On the Menu bar, click on ‘Know Your Vehicle Details’
  • Step 3: Enter the vehicle’s ‘Registration Number’
  • Step 4: Next, enter the ‘Captcha Code’.
  • Step 5: Then, click on ‘Search Vehicle’

What is VIN number in a car: Summary

The 17-character VIN number is important as it helps to track down the car in case one needs to. Also if one chooses to check the authenticity of the used car and the originality of the car’s engine, one can do it by matching it with the VIN that is stamped on the car. A VIN number also helps to understand important specifications of a car as the year of make, engine type, model, etc., and also comes as an important piece of detail while assessing the car’s insurance. The seventeen characters may seem to be a bit confusing to a layman but this article will help you understand how to decode each character, where to search for the VIN on the car, and what does each character signify.

FAQs about what is VIN number in a car

How do I find the VIN number for my car?

You can find the VIN number of your car by checking the dashboard on the driver’s side, or under the hood of the car near the engine, or beneath the spare wheel in the car’s boot, or under the front grille of the car, or on the driver’s side door or rear wheel. You may also check the registration certificate or the car insurance policy paper for the VIN number or contact the car dealership for the details. 

What does the VIN number tell you about a car?

The VIN number of your car talks about when and where the car was built, manufacturing year, information regarding the make and model, engine and other unique features or specifications.  

Why is the Chassis Number or VIN important?

The VIN number of a car helps to track the vehicle in cases of thefts, warranty claims, registrations, insurance coverage and track recalls.

When should you check a car’s VIN number?

A VIN is important if you are buying a used car as it gives the details of the car’s history, for understanding if your car has any safety recalls or if your car or parts of your car get stolen. The VIN helps the police to track the database and use the information to identify and locate the stolen car or car parts. 

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