How to Find VINs, Tire Stats and Other Information on Your Vehicle
Vehicle and tire recalls are issued so often it would be easy to succumb to “concern fatigue” and decide to think about it later. But some recalls — like airbag recalls on older vehicles that have spent time in hot, humid climates — are more important than others. These vehicles, often found along the coastlines of Texas and other southern states, are 50% more likely to explode, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Tires usually are recalled because NHTSA or the tire company has received numerous reports of crashes due to tire failure. After investigating many such crashes and representing their victims, I know how critical it is to be knowledgeable about tire safety and pay attention to recalls. Drivers often miss tire recalls!
So where do you find such important information on your vehicle?
Q. Where is my VIN Located?
For cars, trucks, vans and SUVs, first try checking your vehicle documents such as your title, registration card, proof of insurance card and owner’s manual. If not found there, the VIN most often can be found etched into the dash on the driver’s side of the vehicle. You can read the number by looking through the windshield.
The VIN may also appear in a number of other locations:
- On the engine block. Pop the hood, and look at the front of the engine.
- Front of the car frame, near the container that holds windshield washer fluid.
- Rear wheel well, directly above the tire.
- Inside the driver-side doorjamb. Open the door and look near the top of the narrow panel where the door hinges.
- Driver-side doorpost. Open the door and look on the narrow panel that appears on the outside when you open the door.
- Underneath the spare tire.
Q. Where is Vehicle Tire Information?
Information about your tires is stamped on the tires’ sidewalls. The series of numbers and letters tells you what you need to know to determine if your tire is affected by a recall, when it was made, where it was made, its size and sometimes what type of tire it is.
To read the tire serial number, you’ll first need to find the letters DOT on the side of the tire. The serial number follows these letters (the tire size code usually is in larger print). Here’s what the numbers will tell you:
- The first set of letters represents the tire’s manufacturing plant.
- The second set of letters represents the tire size code.
- There may be a block of numbers and letters that represents the type of tire. This is an optional listing.
- The final four digits represent the week and year the tire was manufactured. For example, a listing that reads 1810 would represent the 18th week of 2010.
When you hear of a recall, a quick check of your vehicle’s tires will tell you if you need to pay attention to necessary maintenance or replacement issues.
Q. Where is My Vehicle’s Tire Pressure Information?
You’ll find the manufacturer’s optimum or recommended tire pressure for your car on a sticker in the door jam, or in your owner’s manual. Some models even place the stickers on the trunk lid, in the console or on the fuel door. Recommended pressure is usually between 30 and 35 PSI.
Q. Where is My Car Jack and Other Important Stuff?
Sorry, there’s no one location for tire jacks and spare tires, so you’re going to have to read your owner’s manual. While you’re at it, check out this other important information in the manual about your vehicle:
- Types of fluids used and when they should be changed
- What various warning lights mean
- What your warranty covers
When it comes to critical safety recalls of vehicles and tires, take the time to locate your vehicle VIN and tire DOT serial numbers and enter them at www.safercar.gov to see if they are affected by a recall. This action can mean the difference between a safe ride home and not getting home at all.