How to Decode a Pickup Truck’s VIN: Tips to Getting it Right

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    Every vehicle has an identification number (VIN) that can reveal a pickup truck’s deepest secrets. You just have to decipher it. Today that’s as easy as using a special online service to unlock the code. But when you enter the desired number in the input box, mistakes happen. The VIN is a convoluted and lengthy mix of numbers and letters and it’s not uncommon for a VIN check to fail even here. Read on to find out why many VIN checks go bad and what you can do about it.


    If the error on an online VIN check service shows you entered an incorrect VIN, first, count the number of digits you entered. A normal VIN is 17 characters long, no more, no less. The exceptions are VINs from vehicles produced before 1981.


    When providing the combination of VIN characters, mind that it generally consists of a letter-number sequence. Due to alphanumeric nature of a standard VIN, you shouldn’t find yourself using such letters, as I, O, and q, as one can mix them up with fairly similar numbers 1, 0, and 9. Check to make sure you entered a zero, not an “O.”

    Checksum Test

    The 9th character of any VIN is a so-called “check digit.” It determines the validity of numbers assigned to U.S. and Canadian market vehicles. That means each code is required to pass the VIN check test.

    New Vehicle

    Are you sure that the vehicle you’re going to check isn’t a new one? If it is, the data provider may not have added the vehicle to the VIN database yet.

    Old Vehicle

    If the vehicle you want to check is too old, its VIN may not appear since the majority of VIN services providers prefer not to include models manufactured before 1981 in their databases.

    Data Provider

    Your chances to receive a decoded VIN relies much on data providers. Not all VIN background providers are alike. Some may focus on certain markets and classes of vehicles than others. Which means that if you can’t find your VIN in one database, try it again in another.