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Q: Looking for Vehicle Information Database (VIN) ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Looking for Vehicle Information Database (VIN)
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: mikeyrosenrosen-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 01 Oct 2004 10:58 PDT
Expires: 31 Oct 2004 09:58 PST
Question ID: 408966
I have a car wash business where we scan in the Vehicle Identification
Number (VIN) bar codes on our customers cars to identify them,
identify that they are repeat customers, and build a database of
customer information.  I have an application that can scan the VIN
number, but I would like to match this VIN number with information
about the vehicle.  For example, check out this web site:

This shows how you can do it with Ford trucks.  I'm looking for a
database that has this sort of information for all vehicles.  Please
tell me if this exists, and how I can obtain it.  Or, if you can
obtain it, please provide it to me.  If not, please tell me what my
options are.

Request for Question Clarification by tar_heel_v-ga on 01 Oct 2004 11:22 PDT
Are you looking for an application that will decode the VIN for you
automatically?  I have found a website that will allow you enter the
VIN manually for any vehicle made after 1978 (when the uniform VIN
number went into effect)and it will return the following information:

50Th Anniversary Edition
50Th Anniversary Edition
2 Door Coupe
Rear Wheel Drive
5.7L V8 350cid Gas FI Vin G

They also have a product that will allow you to integrate the searches
into a third party package.
Subject: Re: Looking for Vehicle Information Database (VIN)
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 01 Oct 2004 20:21 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Mikey,

VIN numbers still retain a certain air of mystery, even though they
have become fairly standardized and -- in theory at least -- shouldn't
be all that tough to decode.  But not all manufacturers are equally
forthcoming about how they use the codes, particularly when it comes
to detailed equipment specs on individual cars, so this makes decoding
a tricky prospect.

But as you discovered with the Ford F150 site, there are some publicly
available internet sites that can be a huge help.

Here are two that will get you 90% of the way there:

The first is the closest you'll get to a VIN encyclopedia:

"The vehicle identification number is divided into four parts: the
World Manufacturer's Identification (WMI - three characters); the
Vehicle Description Section (VDS - five characters); the check digit;
and the Vehicle Identification Section (VIS - eight characters). When
decoded, the VIN tells the country and year of manufacture; make,
model and serial number; assembly plant and even some equipment

The site lays out what it calls the Position Section Information:

1-2 WMI country code 
2-3 manufacturer
4-8 VDS equipment codes 
9  check digit 
10 VIS model year 
11 manufacturing plant 
12-17 serial number 
10 VIS model year 
11 manufacturing plant 
12-14 WMI suffix 
15-17 serial number 

The section information is all clickable, and clicking will take you
to some actual code information.

For instance, clicking on "2-3 manufacturer" takes you to:

which includes information like:

FB Ford Motor Company bus (E350/E550) 
FC Ford Motor Company stripped chassis 
FD Ford Motor Company incomplete vehicle (cutaway cab) 
FE Ford Motor Company incomplete vehicle (cutaway cab) 
FF Ford Motor Company "glider" kit (no engine or powertrain) 
FF Ferrari SpA 
FM Ford Motor Company multi-purpose vehicle (Explorer) 
FT Ford Motor Company truck 
FY Flyer Industries Ltd./New Flyer Industries 
GA Chevrolet van 
GB Chevrolet van chasis 

and so on (I don't know how many FF's or FY's you'll be coming across,
but you're likely to get quite a few FT's and GA's).

Similarly, clicking on the other section links will take you to pages
for the model year codes, etc.  You should be aware, though, that not
each section is readily decodable -- it depends a lot on which car,
which model, and what sort of information you're looking for.

If you print out a number of these pages, you can put together a
pretty handy reference sheet that you can post right on the wall, and
use it decode your VIN's as they come through....


You can take advantage of the online decoders that tar_heel_v-ga
mentioned in his comment earlier, an example of which can be found

"AnalogX VIN View is a free online VIN decoder that allows you to see
the information about your vehicle that it contains. VIN View supports
decoding of any vehicle identification number that was issued after
1978, which is when ISO 3779 was established to make a uniform way to
track vehicles."

There are a number of these types of decoders online, but from what I
can see, they all seem to work pretty much the same.

As far as I know, these tools are the best there is online for the
type of task you're after.  However, before rating this answer, please
let me know if anything here is unclear, or if you need additional
information.  Just post a Request for Clarification and I'll be happy
to assist you further.

All the best,


search strategy -- Google searches on:

"vehicle identification number"
vin decoder

Request for Answer Clarification by mikeyrosenrosen-ga on 02 Oct 2004 07:57 PDT

Thanks!  That's a lot of good information.  However, I'm actually
hoping to find a database of this information that I can integrate
into my own database so the lookup and population is automatic.   I'm
willing to pay for the database, I just need to find it. 
tar_heel_v-ga mentioned there was something like that out there. 
That's really what I'm looking for.



Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 02 Oct 2004 13:43 PDT
Hello again, didn't sink in the first time around that you wanted that
integration function, but no's available in software
products like this one here: 
VINPower New 2003 Vehicle Identification Number Decoder - Stand Alone
- version 3.1

Click on the "Products" button to be taken to the page where you can
download a trial version of the software, before deciding if you want
to purchase it or not.

This should do the trick.  But if you need more information, just post
another comment and let me know how I can help.

All the best,


Request for Answer Clarification by mikeyrosenrosen-ga on 03 Oct 2004 10:21 PDT
Thanks.  That's what I was looking for.  Did you find any others?  I'm
going to give you a great rating regardless, but was wondering if I
have any other options, or if this is the only option.

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 03 Oct 2004 10:52 PDT
Thanks for the very kind comments (and for the stars, of course!).

As far as alternatives to VinPower, I've taken quite an extensive
look-see, and there really don't seem to be any.  I think this one
company has really created its own market for VIN decoding that can
imported into an existing system.

There are a number of sites that link to extensive resources about the
automobile industry, and they all mention VinPower as the only option
for this sort of thing.  For instance, have a look at:
Motor Vehicle Information

They mention CarFax and other services for online checking for a VIN,
but the only stand alone system they mention is VinPower.  Same deal
at a lot of other sites.

On the other hand, everything I've seen so far has talked very
favorably about VinPower in terms of both its capabilities and it
price, which is deemed reasonable.

Hope this helps.  And best of luck...

mikeyrosenrosen-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Great answer.  Was polite and followed up quickly on my clarifications.

Subject: Re: Looking for Vehicle Information Database (VIN)
From: tar_heel_v-ga on 04 Oct 2004 14:00 PDT
You can also use
Subject: Re: Looking for Vehicle Information Database (VIN)
From: tar_heel_v-ga on 04 Oct 2004 14:02 PDT
Hit submit too soon.  The link is a product by Stronghold Technologies
( that you can purchase and
implement in your own application.

Subject: Re: Looking for Vehicle Information Database (VIN)
From: pafalafa-ga on 04 Oct 2004 16:06 PDT
Thanks a lot for the added info, tar_heel_v-ga...the Stronghold
application looks promising as well!


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