I've been reading through a few articles about the components of a VIN, and I understand that the 10th character is meant to be the year, corresponding to a list like the following: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Vehicle_Identification_Numbers_(VIN_codes)/Model_year

However, I've had a look at a few VINs, some manufactured in South Africa and others manufactured in South Korea or Germany, and it doesn't seem reliable.

Check the following:

  • WBA7C22010G766xxx - BMW manufactured 2017?
  • AFAPXXMJ2PFL78xxx - Ford manufactured 2015
  • AFAEXXMJJE5C03xxx - Mazda manufactured 2005
  • KMHDH41CLCU439xxx - Hyundai manufactured 2012

Would I be making a mistake writing software that determines year of manufacture from a VIN? It seems that some serial numbers take up an extra digit, pushing the year to an earlier position.

  • I would go to the manufacturers for the definition of the VIN... not wiki... Checked mine on the Ford site a while back (and kept the results...) got a HUGE amount of detail such as month and year of manufacture...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 13:14

1 Answer 1


If you look at the wiki page you linked the first line tells you: "The model year is encoded in position 10 of North American VIN codes." So this is only reliable for North American cars and it is.

For the other countries you need to see how their VIN configuration is done. They may follow similar formats or they may not.

  • 2
    The thing about the VIN's 10th digit in the US is, this is for the Model Year (MY), not the year of manufacture. Most vehicles are actually made in the previous year prior to MY ... a lot of them being sold are then sold in the previous year as well, because they start selling their vehicles around Aug/Sep. This statement pertains to vehicles here in the States. I don't know how they work it in other areas of the world. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 21:27
  • Yea, I am assuming the op just means MY. As far as I know the vin does not contain the actual manufacturing date which like you said usually begins June of the previous year. I think mainly op is having trouble because non NA Vins are not using the 10th digit as MY so (s)he needs to find out each countrys vin configuration and not just NA's since they appear to not follow the same rules. Side note, www.vindecoder.net is a good site for decoding vins.
    – narkeleptk
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 23:09
  • Thanks for that link. However it complains of an invalid check digit and gives the wrong date, so I assume it's for NA Vins only. I'm also a bit surprised they publish the last-checked VINS on the sidebar - isn't that sensitive information?
    – Savage
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 10:51
  • I've checked several websites and they all complain about the following VIN: KMHDH41CLCU439743, a Hyundai made in South Korea. So I guess there's no single point of authority on global VINs and I'll have to give up using them reliably. (Since I'm building a data extract from vehicle license disks)
    – Savage
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 10:57

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