What Is the Right Trailer VIN Decoding Solution for Your Business?

Compared with the cars produced by 40 manufacturers today, there are hundreds of manufacturers in North America that produce trailers, and each has multiple configurations. Commercial VIN decryption solutions for trailers are rare because of the work involved in collecting this data and the different uses of VIN. But they do exist!

When looking for the best commercial solution to decipher the VIN of a trailer, it is important to understand what information can be found in the VIN. In this article, we will introduce the most important information about decoding trailer VIN, including where to find VIN, which parts can be identified by VIN, which parts are sometimes but not always the case, hard-coded and programmed.

What is a trailer VIN and what’s captured?

Like the vehicle’s chassis number, the trailer’s chassis number is a unique identifier for the trailer. NHTSA requires all trailers used for road use to be assigned a 17-digit VIN. Although both vehicles and trailers must have a VIN, the encoding content of these 17 characters is quite different because they are obviousnt. The following is a breakdown of the VIN of a typical trailer. You can view the VIN breakdown of the vehicle here.

Please note that the letters I, O, and Q will never appear on the VIN of a trailer (or car) because they may be confused with the numbers 0 and 1.

Here is a detailed breakdown of a trailer VIN:

World Manufacturer Identifier (1-3)

Position 13 is the company logo, also known as the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). The first three characters are related to the brand and country of production of the trailer.

Make / Country of Manufacture

Position 1 indicates the country of manufacture of the trailer. Docking location 1 with location 11 (floor) provides more specificity from the actual location to the city and state.

Position 13 is used to identify the manufacturer of the trailer (also known as the manufacturer), unless tVINition is the character “9”. For small manufacturers that produce less than 1,000 trailers per year and use WMI with other small manufacturers, position 3 will always be ranked ninth. These companies can still be identified by VIN, but this requires changing the VIN decoding structure. Therefore, most trailer VIN decoding solutions do not support the coverage of these manufacturers.

Vehicle Descriptor Section (4-8)

Positions 4-8 form up the Vehicle Descriptor Section that is devoted to providing sure key specifications on the trailer. This section is subject to vary across makers and trailer types, however, there are certain fields comparable to trailer type, length, and variety of axles that are required. Here’s what a typical vehicle descriptor section can look like:

Trailer Type / Attachment (Product Line)

Positions 4 and 5 are symbols for the trailer product line. The product range includes trailer type (such as kingpin, ball joint, gooseneck, etc.) and trailer type (such as flatbed/flatbed, multi-purpose, dump truck, car transporter, etc.)

Trailer Length

Positions 6 and 7 indicate the length of the trailer. Although these two characters are usually numbers (as in the VIN example above), they do not necessarily represent length (45 feet). Instead, it is just the characters used for encoding. In most cases, the pendant will have a length, usually rounded to the nearest foot; however, there are some exceptions when the manufacturer specifies the length range, for example, B. The 2009 Wells Cargo trailer with a length range of 1619 feet.

Number of Axles

Position 8 is where the number of axles is encoded. The axle count may be useful within tax/registration fee scenarios by state agencies, or for insurance purposes.

Remaining Characters (9-17)

The remainder of the VIN is made up of the check digit, model year, plant, and serial number.

Check Digit (9)

Position 9 is the check digit. The check digit helps to verify the validity of a particular VIN using the checksum algorithm implemented by NHTSA in 1981. Some of the most common reasons for a failed checksum test are typos, invalid characters, or missing characters in the VIN.

Year of Manufacture (10)

Position 10 is where the year the trailer was manufactured is encoded.

Production Plant (11)

Position 11 indicates which plant the trailer was manufactured at.

Serial Number (12-17)

Like any other 17-digit VIN number, the last 6 digits (1217) are the serial number of the trailer. The serial number makes each VIN unique because the VIN or Squash modes (positions 18, 10, and 11) are almost the same for several VINs representing the same trailer model in a particular year.

Where is the VIN located?

The VIN of the trailer is usually located near the junction of the vehicle and the trailer; this can be on the frame rails or directly on the body of some types of trailers, and may take one of three forms:

  • on the trailer nameplate and all Other trailer information, including model and specific specifications. …
  • is printed on the VIN label.
  • Some manufacturers do this even if it is more prone to damage or loss.
  • is printed directly on the metal of the pendant.
  • This method is not the best because the tags will wear out over time and are therefore difficult to read.

What other data can a trailer VIN decoding solution identify?

As shown in the trailer VIN breakdown above, the trailer year, brand, accessories, trailer type, length, axle, and the factory can only identify the trailer VIN. Some trailer VIN decoding solutions, including DataOne, can identify some additional auxiliary data displayed for a specific trailer, such as trailer material (e.g. aluminum, steel), liquid/dry volume (tank truck/trailer used to transport bulk cargo), and DOT specifications (For dry trailers/tanks). Especially valuable for registration and insurance companies, and in almost 50% of cases, VIN shredding (also called sample VIN) can be used to verify tankers/trailers used to transport bulk cargo


In many cases, a trailer is customized after manufacture. For example, a trailer can be built as a utility trailer and then adapted as a specialized woodchopper. Unfortunately, this information cannot be identified by the chassis number as the chassis number is assigned at the time of manufacture.


It is important to understand what information is in a trailer VIN and what is not to set the right expectations for your business case. While a lot of information can be linked to some trailer brands, it is good to know that, at best, you can probably only rely on the following fields: year, brand, type, sub-type, type of trailer accessory. , Length range and a number of axes.

It is also important to understand what type of coverage a potential data source must consider comprehensive enough for your needs. A quick review of manufacturer coverage and trailer types should number in the range of more than 800 manufacturers and how up to 50. result in different types / sub-types of trailers. Given the level of appropriateness (post-factory), the VIN cannot identify all of the trailer’s specifications once they have been updated, but it helps identify some of the key spec-related information when they leave the factory.

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