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Vehicle identification numbers are now standardized - all contain 17 characters.  VIN characters may be capital letters A through Z and numbers 1 through 0; however, the letters I, O and Q are never used in order to avoid mistakes of misreading.  No signs or spaces are allowed in the VIN.  The first three characters are referred to as the "World Manufacture Index" (WMI), the next set of six characters are referred to as the "Vehicle Descriptor Section" (VDS), and the remaining characters are referred to as the "Vehicle Identifier Section" (VIS).

After searching many times on the Internet for a full explanation, I came to the conclusion that there was much misinformation, confusion, and contradiction concerning VW's VIN.  The meaning and explanation of many of the fourth through eighth character had many different opinions all depending upon who's magic VIN decoder one was using.  Nobody seemed to know for sure what they were talking about.  I then stumbled across a set of official VW documents that explained the entire system.  The secret was that the meanings of several numbers have changed all depending upon what particular year the VIN applied to.  So it all became perfectly clear to me that all those magic VIN decoders on the Internet just plain don't work.  There is no one set of rules or explanations that will explain the VIN for every year.

If you want to know the meaning of your VIN, simply click on the appropriate model year of the PDF documents show below.  The VW production year runs from August to July so a car manufactured in October 1992 will be a 1993 model according to the VIN.  Of course, if you aren't perfectly clear just what year your VIN really is, then a short little course in de-mystifying the VIN is in order.

To determine the actual year of the VIN, simply look at the 10th character of your VIN, and consult the chart that follows the sample VIN.  Then click on the appropriate PDF file for that for a full detailed explanation.

VIN W V 3 A H 4 7 0 5 Y H 034181
Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12-17th
VIN Character - Model Year Codes
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A

In this case, the sample VIN indicates that it is for a 2000 model year vehicle.

Use the following yearly charts to determine the specifics of any given VIN.  For Rialta owners, the 4th character of the VIN which indicates the model series, such as "EuroVan 3dr GLS", will not be found on the chart.  This means that the body style was "an unfinished chassis" which is perfectly correct to the vehicles that were shipped to Winnebago for assembly as Rialta motor homes.

  •  1991 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1992 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1993 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1994 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1995 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1996 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1997 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1998 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1999 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2000 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2001 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2002 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2003 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2004 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2005 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  2006 VW VIN Explanation Chart (PDF)
  •  1991 through 2006 VW VIN Chart (PDF)

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    Page Updated: 30 March 2013