Deciphering the VIN for your vehicle is a great way to understand its origin. Each character of the 17-character identifier tells you something about that specific car. The model year is represented by the 10th digit - which has been standardized since 1981.
Prior to this, manufacturers chose different formats. For instance, in 1980, Ford and AMC stuck with the status quo, using a zero to denote the year. General Motors and Chrysler adopted the new standard going with "A" instead of the traditional zero for their VINs.
The 17-character VIN doesn’t utilize the letters I (i), O (o), and Q (q). This is a deliberate decision as they can be confused for the numerals 0, 1, and 9. Additionally, the characters U, Z, and 0 (zero) are not utilized for year code identification.
Once the years circle from A to Y, they also run from 1 to 9 before going back to A again. For instance, the year code for 2000 was "Y", and 2001 was "1". In 2009, the year code was "9" and in 2010, it restarted at "A", marking a 30-year circle since 1980.
The 10th digit VIN doesn’t always refer to the year the car was produced. Sometimes manufacturers attribute it to the model year. This is the year when the car was intended to be launched. For instance, cars manufactured during the fall of 2022, may have the year by VIN specified as 2023.
Year Translating Example
- 1GTH5BEA0L1214129: 10th character is L – 2020 year
- WBAKP9C57GD980813: 10th character is G – 2016 year
- JTEHH20V226020846: 10th character is 2 – 2002 year
- VIN codes do not include the letters I (i), O (o), and Q (q).
- The year digit of VIN does not include U (u), Z (z), or 0 (the number).