How to Decode Your VIN for Free – Best Way to Buy Used Car


The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is a special code that is made up of 17 characters (capital letters and numbers) that act as unique identifiers for vehicles. VINs are available in two ranges: 17 characters and 11 characters. Every vehicle on the road, nowadays, has a unique VIN. In this article, we will explain what each of the characters in your car’s VIN stands for.
On the other hand, however, if you’d prefer, there are now faster ways to decode VINs than manually reading through the letters and digits. There are currently various VIN decoders like EpicVin available online that allow you to quickly obtain information about your vehicle, which is useful if you need to find components or check its history.
But, if you prefer to read VINs the old-fashioned way, we have put this article together to show you how. Read on to find out. An example of a Vehicle Identification Number is shown below.

5 Y J SA1DG 9 D F P14705

The first to third characters, in this example, are in a part called the “WMI section,” which stands for “World Manufacturer Identifier.”
The first character indicates the nation or location where the vehicle was manufactured. It indicates the origin of the nation.

  • Africa (A-H)
  • Asia (J-R)
  • Europe (S-Z)
  • North America (1–5)
  • Australia and New Zealand (6-7)
  • South America (8-9)

The second character specifies the car manufacturer.
The third character denotes the vehicle division or type—the specific division of a company that produced the vehicle.
The fourth through eighth characters provide information on the vehicle’s brand, body style, engine size and type, model, and series. This group of characters is known as a vehicle description.
The 9th character is a security code that identifies the manufacturer’s approval of the VIN. The “check digit” is used to confirm the validity of the vehicle identification number (VIN) code. Since it needs some complex arithmetic, it may be challenging to determine a VIN’s legitimacy on your own, but an online VIN decoder should be able to inform you.
The 10th character is the car’s model year. Depending on the age of the automobile, a letter or number indicates the precise year of manufacture. The VIN code may be used to determine a car’s year of production using the table below.
Character Year Character Year Character Year Character Year
A 1980 L 1990 Y 2000 A 2010
B 1981 M 1991 1 2001 B 2011
C 1982 N 1992 2 2002 C 2012
D 1983 P 1993 3 2003 D 2013
E 1984 R 1994 4 2004 E 2014
F 1985 S 1995 5 2005 F 2015
G 1986 T 1996 6 2006 G 2016
H 1987 V 1997 7 2007 H 2017
J 1988 W 1998 8 2008 J 2018
K 1989 X 1999 9 2009 K 2019

The 11th character reveals which manufacturer’s factory built your vehicle.
The final six characters are the unique production number for the car, which serves as the vehicle’s serial number. The manufacturer issued this serial number to each manufacturing line. Although you’re less likely to require this section of the VIN, it occasionally can be useful in locating a part if certain modifications were made to a particular model at the time of manufacturing.
Decoding your car’s VIN is a great way to find out more about a used car’s background before deciding to purchase it.

Best way to find good used cars

After determining a car’s VIN, there are still quite a few things to consider before you purchase that used car. Here are some of these considerations to keep in mind as you look for the best used cars.

  • First, set a reasonable budget.
    Being truthful about how much you can afford when making a significant purchase is the easiest approach to saving money. The same holds when buying a used car.
    Try to stay within that range if you currently have a reasonable car loan. Take into account both the recurring loan payment and any future increases in car expenses. This covers the price of fuel, insurance, and routine upkeep.
  • Look into your financial possibilities
    Choosing the ideal finance plan for your automobile is akin to finding the ideal car. Banks, credit unions, internet lenders, and dealerships are your possibilities.
  • Request loan pre-approval.
    The biggest benefit of getting a loan pre-approved is the assurance it gives you that you are getting the best deal. You typically have 30 days to shop. The pre-approval will let you know precisely how much you can borrow for the car, and you can even use it to haggle with dealerships..
  • Sell your old car or truck.
    You’ll save money by trading in your car, and it will take some of the pressure off of you to figure out what to do with the one you now have. Depending on the dealership you choose, the trade-in procedure is straightforward. You must first realize how much less valuable your old automobile is than the new one.
    Make a sizable down payment
    The more money you put down, the less money you’ll need to borrow and the less money you’ll have to pay each month. The ideal scenario calls for a down payment of at least 20%. However, given the rise in auto costs, you should attempt to preserve at least 10% of the vehicle’s sale price as a reserve.
  • Think about purchasing a certified pre-owned car.
    Looking for a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle is one approach to avoid some of the dangers associated with used car purchases. These automobiles, which are often seen at dealerships and rental agencies, have undergone a thorough inspection and manufacturer approval.
  • Shop online.
    Over the last few years, the market for buying a car has undergone a significant transition, making now an excellent moment to purchase a used automobile online

Final words

There are quite a few additional hazards associated with secondhand automobile purchases. One, you have no idea how the previous owner treated the car. Also, there may be unanticipated problems on the horizon.
Make sure you get a car history report to make sure you aren’t leaving with a sneaky fixer-upper. Get an independent mechanic examination to look for any problems beneath the hood in addition to the initial test drive.

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