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Can You Determine Automotive Paint Color by VIN?

You might need to determine your vehicle’s color for a number of reasons, but when all is said and done, the important thing is that you find a color that matches perfectly.

To find an exact paint match, you’ll need your car’s paint code. Every vehicle has a paint code, a color number that universally identifies an automotive paint color. And just as every vehicle has a paint code, every vehicle also has a VIN.

In this article, we teach you everything you need to know about your car’s VIN and how you can use it to determine your automotive paint color.

What Is My Car’s VIN?

VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. Your car’s VIN is the identifying code for your vehicle. It acts as a fingerprint, as no two VINs are the same. Each VIN is comprised of 17 characters, both numbers and capital letters, that serve as an identifier for a specific vehicle.

The VIN number includes unique information about the vehicle. From your car’s VIN, you can determine the manufacturer, specifications, and the information you need to get the paint color code. You can also use the number to check for recalls, track registrations and warranties, and determine insurance coverage. And in the event someone steals your car, the VIN can prove with certainty that a found vehicle belongs to you.

Your car’s VIN provides a lot of information about your car, and it can even help you determine your car’s paint color. We’ll get to that shortly. First, we’ve got to locate the VIN.

Where Can I Find My Car’s VIN?

As we showed you above, your car’s VIN is crucial. It serves as your vehicle’s identifying factor should your car get stolen, and it provides important information associated with your car’s maintenance and upkeep. So of course, you need to know where to find it.

The VIN can be found in three places:

  1. On your insurance card/insurance policy
  2. On the vehicle’s title and registration
  3. On the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle

Typically, walking out to your car and finding the VIN on the dash is the fastest way to locate the number. Simply look where the dashboard meets the window shield. In most vehicles, that’s where you’ll find the VIN.

What Do the Numbers and Letters in a VIN Mean?

So, you’ve found the VIN. Like we said earlier, the VIN is simply a chain of 17 letters and numbers. You might say it acts like a social security number. While the VIN identifies a specific vehicle—much the same way that a social security number would identify a single person—it also tells you more.

Each number or letter in a VIN denotes specific information related to your car. We’ll list each character’s meaning below.

  • 1st Character: Where the vehicle was built
  • 2nd and 3rd Characters: The manufacturer
  • 4th through 8th Characters: Brand, engine size, and type of vehicle
  • 9th Character: Security code, or check digit, used to detect invalid VINs
  • 10th Character: Model year of the vehicle
  • 11th Character: Plant where the vehicle was assembled
  • 12th through 17th Characters: Serial number of the vehicle

The VIN is long and contains almost everything you can know about your vehicle at the time of its production. Decoding your VIN isn’t difficult; you just need to know what you’re looking at.

How to Use a VIN to Find My Car’s Paint Code

You’ll notice that in all the character descriptions above, we didn’t list paint color. That’s because your VIN doesn’t explicitly indicate your car’s paint code, which is the number used in matching paint to a car’s exact shade.

However, you can still determine your automotive paint color using your VIN. Because your VIN acts as your car’s fingerprint, you can use it to search for your car’s paint code through other platforms. You can call your dealer, give them your VIN, and ask for the paint code. Another option is searching for paint codes online using your VIN.

Though your VIN won’t give you your car’s exact paint code or color, it’s a tool that will help you find it.

Where Else Can I Find My Car’s Paint Code?

Your car’s VIN gives you a lot of information about your vehicle, but it won’t give you your paint code. So, where can you go to find automotive paint color?

Most vehicles have paint codes listed inside the driver’s door jamb. Typically, you’ll find a sticker there with information about the vehicle, including paint color. Two paint codes are listed on these placards: an interior paint code and an exterior paint code, sometimes labeled “trim” and “paint,” respectively.

In some cases, the paint codes prove more difficult to find. If you don’t see any paint code information in the door jamb, check your owner’s manual. It usually tells you where the color code placards are located, taking the guesswork out of finding them. 

Should I Determine My Automotive Paint Color by the VIN?

With a little work, you can find your car’s paint color codes using your VIN, though we think it’s faster and easier to simply find the color code stickers located on your car. If you can’t read the color code or if the sticker is simply gone, using your car’s VIN to determine its paint color serves as a great alternative.

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