Different people are guided by distinct motivations to invest in junk cars for sale. Car enthusiasts buy old junk cars for sale to add to their collections, mechanics seek spare parts and flipping options, and ordinary folk are drawn by their affordability. Whatever the case, it is important to know the history of options under your consideration before taking a pick. You can access the information from providers such as Carfax and AutoCheck. In all cases, you need to know the car’s VIN number.

Car VIN check

VIN: An Introduction
Vehicle Identification Number, or the chassis number, has 17 characters that provide access to information on the vehicle. VINs have been in use since 1954; however, it was not until 1981 when the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) came up with a standardized format that forbids the use of alphabets I (i), O (o), and Q (q) to avoid confusion with numerals 1 and 0.

Locating the VIN
While inspecting the salvage vehicle of your choice, make sure to look at the following places for it’s VIN:

  • Below the wipers or on the bottom righthand side of the windshield
  • Inside the door jamb on the driver’s side
  • Under the hood
  • Underneath the spare tire
  • Rear wheel well (above the tire)

VIN is not a collection of random characters, as every number and letter has a meaning. Let’s discuss what the characters mean to help you arrive at informed and prudent purchase decisions.

Characters 1-3
First three alphanumeric characters of a VIN tell about the manufacturer and the vehicle’s country of origin, also known as World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). The first character tells about the manufacturer’s location. The code on position 2 signifies the vehicle’s country of origin. Different codes are designated to provide information about the vehicle. For example, numerals 1, 4, and 5 are for vehicles manufactured in the US. The third character identifies the manufacturer and the vehicle’s category. If the manufacturer produces less than 500 units of the model in a given year, the third digit will be 9. In such cases, the 12th-14th digits will be designated by a regulatory authority.

Characters 4-8
Characters 4-8 provide detailed description about the vehicle, including body and engine type, series, restraint, and model. It is known as Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS). Different manufacturers use distinct encoding techniques to display information. We recommend that you seek the services of an auto enthusiast/mechanic when decoding to avoid confusion.

Character 9
The 9th character in the VIN can be any numeral between zero and nine, or ten (signified as X), and is provided to check the validity of the VIN number. You can use the number to perform calculations and check characters to ensure the validity of the VIN.


10t character

Year 10th character



1980 S 1995


1981 T 1996


1982 V



1983 W


E 1984 X



1985 Y 2000
G 1986 1



1987 2


J 1988 3



1989 4 2004


1990 5 2005
M 1991 6



1992 7


P 1993 8


R 1994 9


Character 10
The 10th character signifies the model year. Any of the 30 approved characters are used to display this information. A glance at the following chart will help you understand the year signified by each character:

Character 11
The 11th character identifies the plant and its location. You can use this information to contact the plant if you want to learn more about the specific model.
Characters 12-17
The last six characters signify the production line numbers and can help you gather information about the vehicle if the manufacturer changed production specifications after producing a few units. For example, if the manufacturer changed specifications for mirrors for your model, you can study the characters to know where the vehicle was in terms of the production line during the change.

Last few words
Decoding the VIN is a must when investing in junk cars for sale. The information that you gather in the process helps you arrive at prudent purchase decisions as it links you to the car’s history. AutoBidMaster is just a call away if you need more information on decoding the VIN or want to buy a salvage vehicle that meets your needs. Browse through our inventory featuring 70,000+ vehicles or call us at +1 (503) 298-4300 to speak with experts. Alternatively, you can also fill out our contact form and one of our representatives will get back to you, shortly.

AutoBidMaster Staff Writer

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