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Decode MINI VIN Numbers

This is not a fool-proof or perfect decoding scheme, but it works for a lot of MINIs, so decode your VIN Number with the guide below.

Alternatively there is an automatic decoder which is not specifically designed for MINIs, but does sometimes work.

Thanks to Steve Baker.

The International Vehicle Identification Number (or 'VIN') is a 17 character code that is supposed to identify every vehicle made anywhere in the world since 1980 with a unique code.

It's quite easy to decode the VIN:

The first character identifies the country in which the car was manufactured

      1=USA   2=Canada  3=Mexico 4=USA     5=USA
      J=Japan K=Korea   Z=Italy  S=England W=Germany

Since MINI's are made un UK, you'd think they'd all have an 'S' in the first character - but they don't. It's a 'W' for 'Germany'!

The second character tells you who manufactured the car

      A=Audi      B=BMW        4=Buick   6=Cadillac       1=Chevrolet
      C=Chrysler  B=Dodge      F=Ford    7=GM-Canada      G=General Motors
      H=Honda     A=Jaquar     L=Lincoln D=Mercedes Benz  M=Mercury
      N=Nissan    3=Oldsmobile 2=Pontiac 5=Pontiac        P=Plymouth
      8=Saturn    T=Toyota     V=VW      V=Volvo

MINI's are made by MINI who have the letter code 'M'.

Notice that there are several cases where two companies share the same code. That's OK because they don't manufacture in the same country. So WM means Germany/MINI and not Mercury because they would use 1M, 4M or 5M because they are made in the USA. Some companies made so many cars that they need more than one letter code - which is presumably why Pontiac has both '2' and '5'.

The third character identifies either the division of the company - or perhaps the type of vehicle.
MINI's all have a 'W' here

Characters 4 through 8 identify things like body style, engine type, series or model.
Each manufacturer can pick their own scheme for these five characters.

For MINIs, character 4 is always an 'R'.

Character 5 identifies the model:    *Note we don't have details for newer models here
       'A' for a MINI One                 'B' for a MINI One/D,
       'C' for a MINI Cooper          'D' for a MINI One Convertible,
       'E' for a MINI Cooper'S        'F' for a MINI Cooper Convertible
       'H' for a MINI Cooper S Convertible.

Character 6 identifies the fuel type:
    '3' for petrol
    '1' for diesel

Character 7 identifies left or right hand drive
    '1' for a Left-Hand drive car
    '2' is a Right-Hand drive car and (for some reason)
    all cars destined for the USA get a '3'.

Character 8
    was always a '4' in cars built before 2005 but some '05 models (and possibly later) are showing up with a '5' in this position. Some people tell me that     this is something to do with the restraint system employed in the car which may have been redesigned in 2005.

 Character 9 is
    a 'residue 11' check digit that can be used to check that the VIN number hasn't been mis-typed or something. It's always either a digit ('0' through '9') or     an 'X' (which means 'ten' in this context).

Charcter 10 is the model year of the car

          o If it's a digit then just add 2000 to get the year. So 2004 cars have a '4' here.
          o If it's a letter then it's messier. I, O, Q, U and Z are not allowed because they are easily confused with other characters.

            A = 1980    B = 1981    C = 1982    D = 1983    E = 1984
            F = 1985    G = 1986    H = 1987    J = 1988    K = 1989
            L = 1990    M = 1991    N = 1992    P = 1993    R = 1994
            S = 1995    T = 1996    V = 1997    W = 1998    X = 1999
            Y = 2000

          o After 2009, cars will start using letters for the year code - so cars in 2010 will use 'A', 2011 will be 'B' and so on. It's not clear how they'll make sure that a car made in 1982 doesn't get the same VIN as one made in 2012.

Character 11 identifies the build plant
    I think all MINI's have a 'T' there, but with the Countryman and Paceman being built in Graz, there may well be another letter for these models.

Last six characters = serial number
     Mixed letters and numbers. These don't usually start from zero - so there is no easy rule for what number you get.

The first three characters are also known as the 'WMI' for World Manufacturer Identifier. Since some countries in the world are running out of VIN numbers, it is likely that some manufacturers will end up with more than one WMI code.