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Understanding The VIN

 by james on 02 Sep 2016 |
5 Comment(s)
Understanding the VIN
Every vehicle manufactured since 1954 carries a unique identifier, the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).  Since 1979 there has been a global VIN standard so that all VIN’s follow the same format.  The VIN, as its name suggests, identifies the car uniquely, and the manufacturer releases information associated with the VIN.  As manufacturers offer an increasingly wide and deep set of ‘options’ with new vehicles, the VIN becomes more and more important in identifying which parts fit which particular vehicle.
Fortunately for me (and for you, too), MINI and Porsche have stuck to fairly well defined formulae for their cars, so that a lot of the time components such as brakes, clutches and service items can be identified by knowing the car’s model and year.  One notable distinction is identifying the correct steering column switch assembly for 986 Boxster and 996 series 911’s.  In these cars there were 4 different switch assemblies offered:
  • Two lever switch
  • Three lever switch with cruise control
  • Four lever witch with cruise control and onboard computer
  • Three lever switch with onboard computer but no cruise control (this option was mostly fitted to GT3 models)
The manufacturers work with their chosen software partner to make the information available, usually at a price.  So, if you want to look up Porsche information, filtered by VIN, you can subscribe to a service called Partslink24, which provides parts diagrams for every roadgoing model Porsche ever built, from the 356 up to the new (at the time of writing) Boxster and Cayman 718.  (Taking time out en route to geek out over the 959, Carrera GT and 918.)
MINI owners can also use Partslink24 to get information about their cars, but if you have a MINI, you can also get car-specific information at (Note that MINI’s are searchable by the serial number, which is the last 7 characters of the VIN).

The following table breaks down the 17 characters of the VIN:
Char Value/Meaning
1 Manufacturer identifier
Porsche use WP0 for sports cars, WP1 for SUV’s
4 General vehicle characteristics.  Australian Porsches will all have ‘ZZZ’ in position 4-6 and the first 2 characters of the model code, followed by a Z in position 9.
10 Position 10 – 17 are used for vehicle specific information.
…and here is a sample Porsche VIN in detail:
W Germany (‘W’ is a carry over from West Germany)
P Porsche
0 Sports Car
Z These three are always Z for Australian delivered cars
9 First two characters of the model type
Z Always a Z for Australian delivered cars
B 2011 model year
S Made in Stuttgart
7 Third character of the model type – so this car is a 997
1 Not used in Australia
3 Serial number (designates vehicle type in US market)
Fortunately, for most of the parts sold by Master Parts, it’s enough to know your car’s model year, but if you are ever unsure of the correct part for your car, feel free to call, email or contact us online to identify the right part for your car.


Lesley barr - Comment
Lesley barr18 Jan 2017Reply
Looking for brake pads full set front and rear with wear indicators for porsche boxster 2008 2.7
Vin wp0zzz98z8u700166
Thank you
Lesley barr
james - Comment
james18 Jan 2017Reply
Hi Lesley - I've sent you an email with links to the parts you're looking for. Thanks.
Andrew D - Comment
Andrew D22 Jan 2017Reply
Looking for a replacement rearview mirror for a 2006 MCS Convertible. Have checked the part by the VIN (realoem) but mine has a different part 5116 4 166 107
james - Comment
james22 Jan 2017Reply
Hi Andrew - that's going to be something you'd need to get from the dealer.
Dee - Comment
Dee11 Nov 2017Reply
Hi, Im after a drivers side heated mirror for a 2014 built 2015 stamped Mini Cooper "S" can you assist or direct me to who in Australia may be able to please
james - Comment
james11 Nov 2017Reply
Hi - that will be a dealer only item, unfortunately.
Roger Price  - Comment
Roger Price 26 Aug 2019Reply
looking for OEM headliner for 2002 mini cooper R50
james - Comment
james26 Aug 2019Reply
Hi Roger - unfortunately that is not a part that I can help with
Steve - Comment
Steve05 Oct 2019Reply
Looking for front brake pads (wear sensor) + rotors for Mini F56 2016 Cooper S 2.0T
VIN WMWXM720202A79040
james - Comment
james05 Oct 2019Reply
Hi Steve - please email me on for a quote (no need to re-supply your car's VIN). Thanks. James

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Just So We're Clear...
All pictures and references to the brands and logos are for reference only, and do not imply any association with the brandholders. Most parts offered are OEM or quality aftermarket parts.  Genuine Porsche or MINI parts are specifically identified as such.  Master Parts  is not responsible for any typographical errors contained within the site.   Information within this website is for reference only.   It is your responsibility to verify that you are technically competent to carry out repair and maintenance procedures.  By entering this site, you agree to hold Master Parts free from any liability arising out of the use of any information contained within.
Master Parts is Australian owned and operated in Australia, for Australian customers.
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