How To Decode A Ford VIN

If you look through the windshield at the dashboard of your Ford on the driver’s side, you’ll find your vehicle identification number (VIN). It’s a long string of numbers and letters stamped on a small metal plate. You can also find your Ford’s VIN in a variety of other places, such as:

  • Your car title
  • Your insurance card
  • Your vehicle registration
  • On or in front of the engine block
  • The driver’s side door jamb
  • Under the spare tire

What Is Your Ford’s VIN And Why Is It Important?

Ford VIN location

Your Ford’s VIN is its unique number, or its fingerprint. No other car in operation has the same VIN as yours. Every car has a VIN to make it easy to track a variety of things, such as:

  • Warranty claims
  • Recalls
  • Thefts
  • Insurance coverage
  • Registrations
  • Accidents and driving violations

Many car owners believe that their vehicle’s VIN is confidential information. It’s actually not. You can give your VIN to anyone and not have to worry about having your vehicle’s information stolen. In fact, many car sellers put the VIN in their online ads. It’s to help potential buyers get information about the vehicle that isn’t disclosed in the ad.

How Many Characters Does A VIN Have?

A VIN has 17 characters. It may seem like a random string of characters, but it can actually tell you a lot about your vehicle. If you decode the VIN of any vehicle, you can learn a lot of things about it, such as its:

  • Year, make, and model
  • Safety features
  • Trim level
  • Engine size

We have a VIN decoder you can use to decode your VIN. If you want to know what each character means, we got you covered.

Breaking Down Your Ford’s VIN

Ford VIN decoder

Your Ford's VIN is made up of several different segments. Let's take a look at each one:

World Manufacturer Identifier

The first 3 characters are called the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). It tells you who manufactured your vehicle, and where it was assembled.

  • The first character indicates the country where your Ford was manufactured. Depending on your Ford model, it may be manufactured at a Ford plant in the US, Mexico, or another country.
  • The second character tells you who manufactured your vehicle. In this case, it’s Ford, or the letter F.
  • The third character represents the type of vehicle. For example, if you have a truck, you’ll see the letter T.

Vehicle Descriptor Section

Characters 4 through 11 make up a section called the Vehicle Description Section (VDS). This section tells you a whole lot about your car such as its:

  • Type of engine
  • Model year
  • Trim level
  • Type of transmission

The VDS format differs between automakers. Each automaker decides which information they want to communicate via their VINs. Ford’s VDS format isn’t the same as, say, Honda’s VDS format. Here’s what Ford’s VDS format looks like:

  • 4th character: Gross vehicle weight rating code
    • This means the total safe weight of your vehicle. This is useful information if you haul around a lot of cargo.
  • 5th-7th characters: Model, series, and body code
    • You can pull a lot of information from these digits, including trim level, wheel size, body style, etc.
  • 8th character: Engine code
    • This tells you what kind of engine the vehicle has.
  • 9th character: Check digit
    • This digit came from a specific formula. It’s used to validate the authenticity of the VIN.
  • 10th character: Model year
    • This indicates which year the vehicle was produced.
  • 11th character: Assembly plant
    • Ford has factories all over the world. This digit tells you which factory assembled the vehicle.

Vehicle Identifier Section

The Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS) is the last section of the VIN. It contains six digits. This section represents your vehicle’s unique serial number. There are many other vehicles with the exact same string of numbers and letters in the first 11 positions. The VIS is necessary to differentiate your vehicle from all the others.

Do you have any questions about decoding your VIN or using our decoder? You’re welcome to contact us!