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Deciphering VIN Numbers
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Pelican Technical Article:

Deciphering VIN Numbers

Jared Fenton


30 min






Pen and notepad

Applicable Models:

Audi A6 (1997-04)
Audi A6 Quattro (1997-04)
Audi S6 (2002-03)

Hot Tip:

Write the VIN down on a piece of paper to make things easier

Performance Gain:

Information is power

Complementary Modification:

Look up option codes for your A6

In this article I'll go over the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN assigned to your A6. The VIN can be helpful in ordering parts and also finding information related to a particular option ordered from the factory. Often times, many people are simply curious what the digits mean.

The Audi A6 uses a 17-digit VIN. Each of these digits represents different information about the car, such as the country of assembly or the engine type. In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the United States standardized the 17-digit format, henceforth, all vehicles sold must contain a 17- digit number coded to specifications. Prior to 1981, there was no standardization of numbers. Different manufacturers had their own codes.

The VIN is located in a few different locations on the car. The easiest to view is on the windshield at the lower right corner. Keep in mind that this article applies to our project car. The codes for other cars are quite numerous, although the information is readily available on the web.

Here's a rundown of what the individual digits means in North America. There are some minor differences in the VIN for other countries, but we'll focus on North America for now. The sequencing of the VIN can be a little confusing. I've tried to clarify it as much as possible.

Country of Origin. In our case, W for Germany.

Manufacturer, in our case, A for Audi

Type of vehicle. U for VW passenger cars

Body Type: E for A6

Engine Type: D for 2.7T V6

Restraint System: 6 for active driver/passenger airbags, side curtain and front side impact airbags

Model (2 digit code): 4B for A6

Check Digit: 2 used as a NHTSA code.

Model Year: 1 for the year 2001

Assembly Plant: N for Neckarsulm, Germany

First sequential serial number of vehicle

Second sequential serial number of vehicle.

Third sequential serial number of vehicle.

Fourth sequential serial number of vehicle.

Fifth sequential serial number of vehicle.

Sixth sequential serial number of vehicle.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Shown here is the most easily accessible VIN, located at the base of the windshield.
Figure 1

Shown here is the most easily accessible VIN, located at the base of the windshield.

Shown here is the VIN located on the rear of the driver's side door-jamb.
Figure 2

Shown here is the VIN located on the rear of the driver's side door-jamb.

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