Law & Order


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to change the way a manufacturer assigns the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to make sure there is a nearly endless number of possible combinations. The VIN is a grouping of 17 digits and letters unique to every car and truck in the United States but the current supply is shrinking (VIN positions: 1–3 identify manufacturer, 4–8 vehicle attributes, 9 accuracy code, 10 model year, 11 manufacturing plant, 12–17 sequential production numbers).

The NHTSA cannot solve the problem by simply adding numbers since too many computer software programs for governments, automakers, etc., are tied to the 17-digit program. Instead, the NHTSA is proposing to change the digit sequence and ease restrictions on the use of letters and digits in order to increase the possible combinations.

To obtain a copy of the proposal: For additional information, contact Stuart Gosswein at