BMWSections.com Archived Manuals, Documents & Resources for BMW Motor Vehicles
Check vehicle info from the BMW VIN Code, and access a vehicle-history report
Q: Where can I find my BMW vehicle identification number (VIN)?
A: Find your VIN number in the bottom corner of your front windscreen, in your vehicle's Registration Document, or the inside the driver’s side doorjamb.
The VIN code (Vehicle Identification Number) describes common characteristics of manufacture for individual vehicles and is unique for every vehicle. The VIN consists of 17 letters and numbers only. This is also know, although less commonly, as the vehicle chassis number.
Vehicle history reports are a proven way to see the track record of any vehicle, either already owned, or when considering buying a used-vehicle. This is what is known as a digital used car check. Info on the vehicle is stored by various government and insurance agencies and reported through a VIN Decoder or VIN Check service to the public.
For North American vehicles, info on lemon law buybacks, odometer fraud, previous collision damage, vehicle maintenance, product recall notices and other such important information can be accessed. Detailed info held by NVMTIS (National Vehicle Motor Title Information System) is also available for U.S based vehicles.
An estimated 34% of consumers bought a vehicle history report for a used car in 2006 alone. (UVSC - study - J.D. Power and Associates Used Vehicle Sales and Certification).
The full report for North American and European vehicles is supplied carVertical, an NMVTIS Approved data provider. NMVTIS report information (U.S only) is not present with providers such as Carfax, CVR, DMVDesk, Experian or TitleTec. The free vin decoder for BMW will give a summary report based upon the BMW VIN code as entered.
The report will be dependent on vehicle type and country, but can include:
North American and European BMW vehicles (common locations)
1. The driver-side windshield, bottom left or right facing outward.
2. Inside the driver's side door jamb.
3. Stamped onto the right-hand suspension turret in the engine bay.
4. A VIN code 'plate' may be riveted to the left-hand suspension turret in the engine bay. This plate may shows additional information such as weight and capacity.
5. Vehicle legal documents, like the 'Log-Book'.
Decoding a BMW VIN is relatively straightforward. You can see most of the decoded data via our own VIN decoder for BMW above. The following is a standardized structure of the VIN for the United States and Canada according to standards ISO 3779 and ISO 3780. These sequences are used in the BMW VIN decoder report tool.
Characters 1 - 3: WMI - World Manufacturer Identifier
Char 1: Region/Country of manufacturer
This is always the first character. So for BMW models, so this will be one of the following:
|W = Germany||S = Germany||4 = United States||N = South Africa|
Char 2: Vehicle manufacturer name
|B = BMW AG|
Char 3: Vehicle type
|A = Passenger Car||A = Utility Vehicle||S = Passenger Car||X = Utility Vehicle|
Characters 4 - 9: VDS - Vehicle Descriptor Section
Char 4 - 7 are the Vehicle Model Codes. This is used to identify the overall vehicle type and body style.
Char 8 - Safety System Restraint Identifier
Char 9 - Vehicle check-digit calculation and is used for all road vehicles sold in the US and Canada.
Characters 10 - 17: VIS - Vehicle Identifier Section
Char 10 - Year Identifier (excluding European models. There is no date code for European built BMWs. The 0 (number) is used in 10th place to indicate it's a Europeian model).
|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|
|1 = 2001||2 = 2002||3 = 2003||4 = 2004||5 = 2005||6 = 2006||7 = 2007||8 = 2008||9 = 2009|
|A = 2010||B = 2011||C = 2012||D = 2013||E = 2014||F = 2015||G = 2016||H = 2017||J = 2018||K = 2019||L = 2020||M = 2021||N = 2022||P = 2023||R = 2024||S = 2025||T = 2026||V = 2027||W = 2028||X = 2029||Y = 2030|
|1 = 2031||2 = 2032||3 = 2033||4 = 2034||5 = 2035||6 = 2036||7 = 2037||8 = 2038||9 = 2039|
Char 11 - Assembly plant code
|A, F, K = Munich, Germany||B, C, D, G = Dingolfing, Germany||E, J, P = Regensburg, Germany||V = Leipzig, Germany||0, L, M = Spartanburg, U.S.A||W = Graz, Austria||N = Roslyn, South Africa||4 = Araquari, Brazil||M, S = Shenyang, China|
Char 11 - 17 - BMW Serial Number - often used for BMW parts look-up (last 7 digits of VIN).
Characters 12 – 17: Sequential Production Number. A unique character combination for every BMW.
1. Wikipedia: Vehicle Identification Number
2. National Motor Vehicle Title Information System
3. NHTSA GOV