Vehicle Identification Numbers play an integral part in uniquely identifying the millions of vehicles on roads today, but the journey was decades in the making. The precursor to Vehicle Identification Numbers began appearing in the 1950s on American automobiles, when manufacturers placed identifying numbers on the chassis or engines. Different states had varying laws and regulations to track vehicles, and each manufacturer had their own numbering system. It was not until 1981 that the modern 17-digit VINs were implemented.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on the International Organization for Standardization’s 1977 recommendation, implemented the current standardized Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) system in America to uniformly register and track vehicles. Akin to a fingerprint, the VIN is a unique number assigned only to one vehicle, and it serves many purposes. Insurance companies can easily track a vehicle’s history with a VIN number check, while the police use the VIN as an important identifier in their reports. For consumers, a free VIN number lookup allows you to decode invaluable information about an automobile’s past. By discerning the combination of letters and numbers, you can learn much about the car, ranging from the year it was made to the engine installed inside. Currently, as of the 1981 legislation, the following vehicles are part of the VIN decoder search: