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Decoding a VIN


Step 3: Decoding The Make

We're going to use the VIN 1ZVHT82H485113456 from the photo on previous page as the sample to work from. We won't tell you what this vehicle is, but you should know more about it by the time we reach the end of the number.

Our first decoding challenge is to figure out who made this vehicle. This is found in the digits 1ZV. The first digit in the make code will always be the country of manufacture. There are numerous country codes, but the most common ones are:

  • USA: 1, 4 or 5
  • Canada: 2
  • Mexico: 3
  • Japan: J
  • Korea: K
  • England: S
  • Germany: W
  • Italy: Z
  • Sweden: Y
  • Australia: 6
  • France: V
  • Brazil: 9

Looking at our code, it's clear we're dealing with an American car or a foreign car built in America.
When we add the next two digits to the equation, we discover the manufacturer. The full three-digit code is called the World Manufacturer Identifier. There's more to this than simply handing an "F" to Ford or a "G" to GM. For instance, "1GC" represents Chevrolet trucks, and "1G1" is for Chevy passenger cars.

It turns out that "1ZV" is the code for AutoAlliance International, a company building cars for both Mazda and Ford. This means our car is either a Ford or a Mazda product.