Is it possible to decode the year of production from the VIN?

For all the recalls on our website, we always state the range of months of production or the year of production of the given model, or model yearsee the latest recalls.

However, you will not find any of these data in the vehicles’ registration certificate (log book in the UK). It contains only the first registration, i.e. the date when the dealer first registered the vehicle. And this can easily differ from the date of production by up to two years. So, how can you find out your car’s year?

You can’t read much more from the vehicle’s VIN code without the help of a dealer. With some cars, you may identify at least the model year (see the table below). With others (Mercedes, BMW, Renault, Dacia, Fiat, etc…), not even that.

Year of production vs model year vs first registration

The model year may or may not be the year in which the car was manufactured. Carmakers usually produce a specific model year from the middle of the previous year to the middle of the current year. For example, a car manufactured in December 2017 will already be the model year 2018. However, it may travel around the world, stand at the dealership for several months and may not be registered until January 2019. And this information will be entered in the vehicle documents as the date of the first registration. So, is this a car from 2019, 2018 or 2017? Although the year 2019 will be entered in the documents, the vehicle may be affected by a recall announced for cars manufactured in 2017 and also for the model year 2018. Knowing the exact date of production is good not only because of recalls but also when buying a new or used car. Why pay more for a de facto older car?

How to find out the month and year of production?

To request this information, you can contact any authorized dealer of a specific brand – see our instructions here. According to the VIN code, the technician will search for your car in the system and tell you the date when it left the production line. Being already in contact with the dealer, you should also ask if there is a pending recall, TSB or service campaign for your car.

* The VIN code is a unique identification number that is embossed on the body of the car. It is made up of a unique combination of 17 letters and numbers. The most common place to find a VIN is near the bottom edge of the windshield on the driver’s side.

If you wish to know more than the date of production of a specific car, (e.g. real mileage, potential traffic accidents damages, odometer rollback, repairs, etc.), we suggest going to HPI-Check.

The model year of the car from the VIN code

You can sometimes identify the model year by the character in the VIN code’s 10th position. However, this does not work for all manufacturers (see above). Moreover, the model year does not mean that the vehicle has been in a given year actually manufactured.

Code Year Code Year Code Year
A 1980 S 1995 A 2010
B 1981 T 1996 B 2011
C 1982 U 1997 C 2012
D 1983 W 1998 D 2013
E 1984 X 1999 E 2014
F 1985 Y 2000 F 2015
G 1986 1 2001 G 2016
H 1987 2 2002 H 2017
J 1988 3 2003 J 2018
K 1989 4 2004 K 2019
L 1990 5 2005 L 2020
M 1991 6 2006 M 2021
N 1992 7 2007 N 2022
P 1993 8 2008 P 2023
R 1994 9 2009 R 2024

*Note that since 2010, the codes introduced in 1980 have been repeated. Vehicles from 1985 and 2015 can have the same letter E in the 10th position of the VIN code.

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