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How To Decode A Volkswagen VIN

A VIN may seem like a random string of numbers. The truth is, every single digit in your VIN means something. If you decode your VIN, you’ll learn a lot about your vehicle. For example, you’ll find out your vehicle’s:

  • Safety features
  • Trim level
  • Engine size

Before 1980, Volkswagen used a proprietary VIN system. It may be hard to decode a VW VIN on a vehicle made before 1980. The VINs on newer VW vehicles are easier to decode. All you need to do is punch in your VIN in our free VIN decoder.

If you want to learn more about VINs and how to break down your VIN, read on.

Why Your VW Has A VIN

VW vin

Each car has a unique VIN. No two cars have the exact same VIN. The reason for this is to make it easier for car dealers, mechanic shops, the DMV, and other establishments to keep track of your vehicle for:

  • Warranty claims
  • Recalls
  • Registrations
  • Insurance coverage
  • Accidents
  • Driving violations
  • Theft recovery
  • Proof of ownership

Where To Find Your VIN

Your VIN is pretty much everywhere. It’s even in a few places you haven’t even thought of. The most common places that contain your VIN include:

  • On the dash at the driver’s side (in the form of a metal stamped plate)
  • Car title
  • Insurance card
  • Driver’s side door jamb
  • Vehicle registration
  • On or in front of the engine block
  • Under the spare tire

Your VIN Has Three Sections

All VINs come with 17 digits broken down into three different sections. Each section provides a set of details about your vehicle.

VW vin decoder

1. World Manufacturer Identifier

The first section is the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). In this section, you’ll find out which company manufactured your vehicle and where it was assembled. This section is the first three characters of your VIN.

  • 1st character: Manufacturing country (USA, Germany, etc.)
  • 2nd character: Manufacturer (V stands for Volkswagen)
  • 3rd character: Vehicle type (pickup truck, passenger car, etc.)

2. Vehicle Descriptor Section

The Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS) is tells you a lot about your particular car. In this section are 8 characters: characters 4 through 11 of the VIN.

  • 4th character: Body style and trim level (2 door/4 door, basic, sport, deluxe, etc.)
  • 5th character: Engine type (gas, diesel, number of cylinders)
  • 6th character: Restraint system (seatbelts and airbags)
  • 7th and 8th characters: Model (Jetta, Passat, Golf, etc.)
  • 9th character: VIN check digit (a special digit that verifies the validity of the VIN)
  • 10th character: Model year (1980-present)
  • 11th character: Assembly plant (Mexico, Brazil, Brussels, etc.)

3. Vehicle Identifier Section

Characters 12 through 17 make up the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS). This section is your vehicle’s unique production number. There are many other Volkswagen vehicles with the exact same characters in the first 11 positions. Your VIN needs the last six digits to identify your car.

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