That seemingly random string of numbers printed on your BMW’s dash or on the driver’s side door jamb is more important than you think. Each of the 17 digits actually tells you something specific about your car, from where and when it was built to its feature-set. You can even use it on certain motor vehicle registries to find out whether the car is considered a salvage (repaired after a major wreck) or is listed as stolen. All essential information if you are buying a pre-owned or used car, simply want to do some comparison shopping, or wish to find the right upgrades or parts for your own car.
At BimmerTech, we use your car’s unique identifier to make sure that we are sending you parts and kits that fit your exact make and model. That’s why we will often ask you for this number during the inquiry, ordering, or installation process. We also encourage you to look up your own VIN to help you decide which products are right for your BMW, whether it’s at BimmerTech, ModMyNav, or any other reputable online retailer. A great place to start is at the free service bmwvin.com. Put in the last seven digits of your VIN and they’ll tell you everything you need to know to locate the right upgrades and retrofit kits.
But before you head over there, it might help to brush up on the VIN decoding system so you can understand what all those digits mean. This is just a general guide, because while the U.S., most of Europe, and some other countries all try to follow the same format, there may be some differences depending on where you live. If you want more details, Wikipedia has them here.
Digits 1-3: These usually tell you where the car was assembled, the manufacturer, and the vehicle type.
Digits 4-8: These describe your particular vehicle, like its model, body style, engine type, and transmission.
Digit 9: This is the check digit, used simply to tell whether there is an error in the VIN, like if you input it incorrectly.
Digits 10-11: Used to tell the year and the factory where it was assembled.
Digits 12-17: Typically these make up the factory’s production sequence number, which identify the vehicle itself as a unique product.
BimmerTech typically needs only the last 7 digits of the VIN to accurately match the right upgrades, parts, and retrofits to your car. Here’s a quick example of how you might use your VIN and bmwvin.com to help you figure out the right retrofit kit at BimmerTech:
Let’s say you want to see if your vehicle has the feature set necessary to install a BimmerTech Premium Audio System. The product page says it is compatible with certain BMW models with the 676 HiFi system. If you search our sample VIN #K329921, you will see such information as country of origin, production date, and major features. You will also get a list of options built into this model.
Check the Dev. Series in the first section. It says F82. Jump down to the options and check option 676 and you will see that it features the BMW HiFi Loudspeaker System. With this information, we now know that this vehicle is ready to install a BimmerTech Premium Audio System and it will be with plug and play ease.
One more example. Let’s see if BimmerTech can activate BMW Apps in this vehicle. The product page says the car must be built in September 2010 or later and have options 602 (on-board monitor and TV) or 609 (Navigation System Professional) as well as one of the following: 633, 639, 644, 6NK, 6NL or 6NH. A quick check of the production date (July 5, 2014) and those features in the Options section (has 609 and 6NH) reveals this vehicle gets the green light.
Ready to check your own BMW? After reading the requirements on any of the BimmerTech product pages, head over to bmwvin.com and see if you too get the green light. While your VIN report may not show all the options your vehicle has, it’s a good place to start.
Perhaps your best step is just to check with us. We’re always on-hand to help you decipher your VIN or personally match what you are looking for with your BMW. And we also have retrofit solutions to upgrade your vehicle should it fall short on factory-installed options.