What Year Was My Car Made?

If you own or are considering buying a car, the date it was made is an important issue. A vehicle's age is directly related to its overall value and general performance. We conducted enough research so that you will have a general idea of how to determine the year your vehicle was manufactured.

The manufacturing date indicates when your car was actually built. The information is found on a decal on the driver-side door of the car. If the sticker has faded or fallen off, you can find the production date using your vehicle identification number (VIN).

There are several aspects you need to know regarding purchasing or owning a car. The make, model, and year of manufacture are among the most important considerations. This article provides basic guidelines and information to help you in this regard.

A Vehicle identification number on glass windscreen of a modern car - What Year Was My Car Made

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Audi 100 Avant GLS C2 1978

You can find the VIN etched on your windshield, vehicle registration papers, or even on your car's insurance policy. It serves as the identifying code for a specific car to differentiate it from the rest of the automobiles in operation.

Aside from the manufacturing date, it also provides the company or brand, model, serial number, engine type and assembly plant, and country of origin. The code serial is completed by the company to confirm the accuracy and validity of the VIN.

Decoding The VIN

Auto mechanic checking vehicle identification number of the car using laptop hooked up to the car onboard computer

Since 1981, every automobile has had a vehicle identification number containing a code of 17 digits. They serve to provide identification and related information about the vehicle.

Here is an illustration of how to interpret the VIN:


Since the manufacturing date is our main concern, let us simplify: the model year is indicated by the 10th digit.

Here is a sample reference to identify the year:

  • A - 2010
  • B - 2011
  • C - 2012
  • D - 2013
  • E - 2014
  • F - 2015
  • G - 2016
  • H - 2017
  • J - 2018
  • K - 2019

Note: the letters I, O, and Q are not used in a VIN

In the VIN cited above, J is the 10th digit; this means the vehicle is a 2018 model and was produced the previous year, making the manufacturing date 2017.

Make, Model, Model Year, And Manufacturing Date

Car manufacturers present several terms you may find synonymous or interchangeable; there are distinctions, however to be made to fully understand a vehicle's actual features.


The make is the brand of the car; Chrysler, Toyota, Volvo and Honda are popular examples. The general demand of the make is an indication of how well it generally performs. You should look into the brand before purchasing a car. Also, the vehicle's cost is directly linked to the brand. High end cars like Rolls Royce, for instance, are considerably pricier than Volkswagen or Ford.


The model is a specific product of the brand or makes; for instance, Toyota features Altis or Camry, Honda offers Civic or City. Car models are simply distinctive designs meant to address consumer needs and demands for specific purposes.

Sedans, SUVs, pick-up trucks, and luxury cars are model types that cater to and determine which kind of vehicle to acquire. Newer models are equipped with engine upgrades, better safety features, easier operation, and high technology components.

Model Year

The model year distinguishes changes and upgrades to a car of the same make and model. Manufacturers usually alter or adjust the design, add safety features or eliminate faulty components. This results in changes in the overall features of the car, thus the different model years.

For example, a 1978 Mustang is available with both automatic and manual transmission, whereas the previous model did not. Older cars were not equipped with navigation systems, which is a common feature nowadays.

Manufacturing Date

The production or manufacturing date discloses when the vehicle was actually made. Since this is the main concern, let us elaborate on why it is important to establish the fact.

Note: The model year and the manufacturing date are not the same. Cars are assembled prior to the time they are marketed. For instance, a vehicle model 2000 was actually made in 1999; this allows car companies to make them available early in the year they were featured or advertised. Furthermore, it also gives ample time to "test-drive," so to speak, their new model.

Why Is It Important To Know Your Car's VIN?

VIN sticker on left passenger door. Mercedes Benz logo and identification number

Now that we have established how to determine when your vehicle was actually made, here are the important reasons for knowing why it matters.

Car Value

The relative age of a car determines its buying or selling value. If you intend to sell, trade, or purchase one, the actual year it was manufactured comes into play. Also, some private car owners or salesmen may attempt to pass the vehicle as a newer or more recent model. If you are aware of its actual year, you get a bargaining advantage, a fairer price, and better value.


Mileage is the total distance a car travels each year, on average, 10,000 miles. Simply multiply this number by the vehicle's age, and you have a general idea of its condition. You should avail of cars that are less than three years in running or operation.

This ensures lower mileage, higher resale value, and less repair and part replacement. Late-model cars, however are good for up to 7, or even 10 years, depending on actual use.

Condition And Performance

Newer cars perform more satisfactorily and require less maintenance. Primarily, they are equipped with better parts such as more powerful engines, lighter bodies, easy handling, and lower fuel consumption. Most safety car features like dual airbags and anit-lock brake locking system, to cite a few, are present in later models and may not be found in older ones.

Model Recalls

After a new model actually performs on the road, some defects may become manifest. Faulty brakes, for instance, endangers the owner, passengers, and even the public. The manufacturer then orders a recall of all operating models to fix, adjust or replace the defective part.

If you know the exact year and model of your vehicle, you become aware whether your automobile is included in the recall.

Maintenance And Part Replacement

In time, parts of your vehicle may need replacing. As mentioned, manufacturers constantly change and adjust car components to improve their quality, safety, and durability, sometimes in the middle of a production year.

If you know the manufacturing and model date of your car, you get the part that is compatible with your vehicle. This prevents the trouble of having to reorder the part and delay repair.

Car Longevity

Finally, once you know how new or old your car really is, how much longer is it practical to keep and use it? Presently, the average lifespan of a car is about 10 years. That's because they are built and designed better than they were 20 to 30 years ago.

This means that high mileage is not necessarily a bad thing as long as you follow the manufacturer's maintenance procedures and schedule. Improvements in car efficiency, engine reliability, safety features, emissions, and fuel consumption all contribute to its longevity.

How Do I Determine The VIN Authenticity?

 A Vehicle identification number on glass windscreen of a modern car.

Suppose you have doubts about the validity and authenticity of your VIN and other documents. In that case, the best way is to cross-reference or verify them with vehicle registration agencies or car manufacturers.

These establishments have whole databases of every vehicle's VIN. All they have to do to validate the automobile is by entering the number into their system. There are also credible companies that are responsible for inspecting license plates so you would have an idea of a car's history.

Nonetheless, be careful of fake history reports. Some websites affirm they sell file reports at a smaller amount; however, these sites are selling counterfeit or fake documents.

You could also check the authenticity of the said number through a VIN look-up page. Some of these websites include CarFax, Autocheck, and DMV.org. Although this is the case, it is still ideal to go to legitimate industries.

Using a VIN decoder is another way of knowing whether the serial number is authenticated or not. It actually pulls out original information regarding the vehicle and compares it directly to the description you have.

In Closing

Knowing the date a vehicle was manufactured certainly has a lot of advantages. A lot of feedback and information can be obtained from it. We hope you found the article useful, whether you simply wanted to know the year your car was made or plan to buy or sell one. Happy motoring!

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