How To Tell If Vehicle Is 4WD By VIN? Thorough Guidelines

Many drivers know about VIN codes, but how to tell if vehicle is 4WD by VIN? We’ll show you how to decipher the sequence and get the necessary information.

Moreover, there will be a list of websites that you can use to check your car’s database. Let’s move on!

Get Into VIN

how to tell if vehicle is 4wd by vin
Vehicle Identification Number

VIN, also known as Vehicle Identification Number, is a code created for different purposes.

It was first made with the idea to track vehicles since automakers started to produce mass quantities of automobiles.

This series of numbers and letters also becomes very useful for drivers. How to know if your car is 2WD or 4WD? VIN is the answer.

How Does VIN Look Like?

VIN is a combination of 11 – 17 numbers and letters stamped or printed on the car. Each character in the series indicates different information.

Similar to people’s fingerprints, this identification will be with the vehicle for its whole life span. Before 1981, the sequence could consist of 11 to 17 characters.

After that year, according to the standard issued by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), it should be a string of 17 digits.

Where Is It Located?

How do I know if my car is AWD? To answer this question, you should find the VIN on your vehicle.

It’s usually located in easy-to-find areas. Try to look at the bottom of the car’s windshield on your driver’s side; you’ll likely see the code there.

If your car is an old model, you may need to check inside the glove compartment or driver’s frame sill.

Besides, it’s also possible to see the VIN sticker/ plate on the center of the bulkhead, two front inner wings, inside the L/H rear door, or on some part of the car chassis.

How To Tell If A Vehicle Is 4WD By VIN?

is my car all wheel drive vin
how to know if your car is 4 wheel drive

How to tell if a car is AWD by VIN?

You can focus and decipher the fourth letter of the code as it indicates your vehicle’s body type, or you can go to free VIN decoder websites, type your series in the search box, and you’ll have the information you need.

Decipher VIN

As mentioned above, each of the characters has its meaning. We’ll teach you how to know if your car is a 4-wheel drive by interpreting the VIN code.

Character 1

The vehicle manufacturers start the string by telling the vehicle’s country of origin. The information is presented in numbers or letters.

Below is the table of codes for countries of origin.

Represented number/ letterCountry of origin
1, 4 and 5USA

Character 2

The following information is the car manufacturer, usually indicated by a letter. For example, T means Toyota, and N means New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMM)

Character 3

This character will hint at the vehicle type you have. Let’s look at the table below!

Represented number/ letterVehicle’s type
4, A, B, M, or FTruck
3, E, or LSUVs or Multipurpose passenger vehicles
5Incomplete vehicles, like convertibles
1, 2, 7 or D, K, G, X, and N Passenger vehicles

Character 4

How can I tell if my car is AWD? Here is where you can find a quick answer because this fourth digit will reveal the body type of your vehicle.

If you find your VIN contains one of the letters below, you can say your car is a 4WD by registration.

B4DR truck 4-wheel-drive or 4DR sedan 2-wheel-drive
D4DR truck 4-wheel-drive
H4DR wagon 4-wheel-drive
L4DR truck 4-wheel-drive or 4DR wagon 4WD
P2DR regular cab truck 4-wheel-drive
W2DR extended cab 4-wheel-drive
S3DR liftback 4-wheel-drive

Though knowing the meaning of these letters is sufficient to identify whether the car is 4-wheel drive, learning to decode the whole sequence gives you additional details that are important, such as the safety features or model year.

Character 5

This position in the string indicates what type is your car engine.

It’s useful to know the information as you need to provide lots of power to a 4×4 vehicle, especially when you engage the 4-wheel-drive system.

Some common examples are: A means 3MZ-FE, D means 2ZZ-GE, or F means 1MZ-F.

Character 6

It’s where you can look for the car series. If you have a Toyota, the chassis manufactured for the vehicle identifies this digit.

Character 7

You can also check some safety figures based on your VIN. Each indicates what protection equipment, such as airbag type, is attached to your car.

0: manual seat belts with curtain air bags and 2 airbags;

D: manual seat belts with 3-row curtain airbags, knee airbags, side airbags, and 2 airbags.

Character 8

This character can tell you the platform of your model. If your automobile is Toyota, you can have a look at some examples below:

Letter/ numberIndication
OMR2 Spyder
4Scion xB

Character 9

How to tell if a car is in 4WD? VIN not only can help you in this case but also help you determine its own authenticity.

You can check the digit written in the 9th position, a number granted to your VIN from the US Department of Transport based on a formula.

Character 10

The 10th digit refers to the manufacturing year from 1997 until now. Some of the examples are:

  • V means 1997
  • W means 1998
  • X means 1999
  • 1 means 2000
  • 2 means 2002
  • E means 2014

Character 11

VIN code also reveals your car factory’s location where it was assembled. For example, A is Onnaing-Valenciennes, France; R is Lafayette in the US; 0-9 is Japan.

Character 12 – 17

Since your car is made on the production line, manufacturers need these digits to identify your unit number, also known as the vehicle’s production number.

VIN Decoder Websites

Is my car all-wheel drive VIN? You can identify your vehicle information by learning to decode a series of characters. However, some websites can help you decipher the code for free.

As mentioned above, you just need to visit the VIN decoder websites and type your code. You’ll get the result quickly.

Remember to type the string carefully so you’ll miss or mistake any digit.

Here is the list of websites for your reference:

Other Ways To Tell If A Vehicle Is 4WD

how to know if your car is 4 wheel drive
Beside The Method To Tell If A Vehicle Is 4WD

Is my car AWD or FWD or 4WD? Besides VIN, you can try some other ways to know the information.

Check Your Owner’s Manual

In your manual book, related to drivetrain information should be listed under the “Feature” heading, or you can search in the table of content for the section named “All-Wheel Drive.” You’ll likely find the answer to your question: how to tell if my car is AWD?

Check Under Your Car

How to know if my car is AWD or 4WD? Another way to confirm the type of drivetrain system is to check under your vehicle. Look for an axle shaft connecting your front and rear wheels.

If you see it, the AWD system is available in your car. Remember to check for the AWD system malfunction regularly.

Look For Other Signs

When you start your automobile, notice if there’s a 4WD light or the word Lock under the icon of two axles illuminates.

If yes, you don’t need to ask how to tell if your car is AWD or 4WD anymore because it does have.

Sometimes, this light also has some problems, so make sure you know how to clear the service 4WD light.

Plus, pay attention to any lock button on the center console that features the same icon as the above ones. It can also say whether your car is AWD or 4WD.


What Are The Differences Between 4×4 And 4×2?

Now you know how to tell if a truck is 4×4. There are also some differences between 4×4 and 4×2 trucks.

All four wheels of the former receive torque, while in the latter one, the torque is only delivered to one of the two-wheel axes, meaning it’s front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of AWD?

The advantage of AWD is quite obvious when it assists drivers in handling vehicles in different road conditions.

It gives you more traction on bad surfaces and maintains fuel economy and traction while running on normal roads.

What Are The Differences Between Full-time AWD Vs. Part-time AWD?

The main difference between these two systems is the full-time one works based on the car’s computer. It controls when and which wheels will receive power.

Meanwhile, the drivers can switch on/ off the part-time system. When it’s off, the car comes back to default FWD. If you turn it on, the computer will work in full-time mode.


How to tell if vehicle is 4WD by VIN?

In short, you need to look for the fourth position in the string to find out about your drivetrain vehicle, or visit one of the suggested decoding websites above and enter your VIN for more accurate details.

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