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The Meaning of the 10th Digit in a VIN

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) System

The current Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, that is utilized in the automotive industry is a unique 17-character code that the manufacturer assigns during production. The characters used in the VIN consist of both capital letters and numbers except the letters “I”, “O”, and “Q” since these letters could be confused with the numbers zero and one.  Read about the Vehicle Identification Number system and where it is located on your car in more detail here.

There are three groups in the modern VIN system standard is the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI), Vehicle Description Section (VDS) and Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS).

What Does the 10th Digit in a VIN mean?

The 10th character, which is found in the VIS, indicates the vehicle’s model year.  This does not necessarily indicate the year it was manufactured.  It is not uncommon for manufacturers to start building a model year in the second half of the previous year.

The year 1981 was the first year the modern VIN system was mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Many manufacturers used the letter “A” for 1980.  Therefore, they started with “B” in 1981 and went through most of the alphabet (with a few exceptions).  In 2001, the characters switched over to numbers that coincide with the last digit of the year.  In 2008, NHTSA published a revision to 49 CFR 565 to increase the available unique Vehicle Identification Numbers available.  The new rule mandated manufacturers start at “A” in 2010 and repeat the alphabet and numbers in the 10 position to get through to the year 2039.

Note:  In addition to the other excluded letters from the VIN, the number zero and the letters “U” and “Z” are also not used in the model year position.

The 10th Digit VIN Chart

10Year
B1981M199112001B2011M202112031
C1982N199222002C2012N202222032
D1983P199332003D2013P202332033
E1984R199442004E2014R202442034
F1985S199552005F2015S202552035
G1986T199662006G2016T202662036
H1987V199772007H2017V202772037
J1988W199882008J2018W202882038
K1989X199992009K2019X202992039
L1990Y2000A2010L2020Y2030
VIN Chart – 10th Digit

The model year 1980 was encoded by many of the manufacturers with the letter “A” or the number zero.  The year was prior to this standard going into effect.

Need help determining the model year of your car?

Do you need help locating or interpreting your Vehicle Identification Number? Call Autopractor today at 630-444-1414.

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