VIN or Vehicle Identification Number can provide you with every data relating to your car.
If you’re wondering why we’re doubting the VIN codes capability, you might want to know how to find gear ratio by VIN.
The Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS) of the VIN will carry information for the gearbox ratio if the specific manufacturer includes it. If not, you might need to take help from a trusted VIN decoder website or find out manually.
Since the VIN represents data based on the initial manufacturing process, modified body parts cannot be tracked down in many cases. Again, not being aware of the actual gear ratio can be detrimental.
Let’s explore the dynamics between this magical number and your gear ratio!
Table of contents
Why Is It Important To Know About The Gear Ratio?
The gear ratio helps us understand the engaging relationship between torque and speed, maintaining both of which is extremely important for a safe drive.
In simple words, the gear ratio can be expressed as the ratio of the number of spikes in the larger gear to the ratio of the number of spikes in the smaller gear or pinion. The larger and smaller gear here denotes the driver and the driven one, respectively.
This ratio can also be portrayed in several ways, like- wheel revolution to the engine, angular speed ratio, etc.
And based on this, the ways to find out the exact gear ratio differs too.
Getting down on the ground and checking the rear wheels and the body parts most probably is a scene you’re familiar with. The gear ratio might be stamped there or by counting down the spikes on the gears, you can find it as well.
But is there a more convenient way?
Well, if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to find out the gear ratio you’re looking for just by decoding the VIN number of your car.
Read along and join us in the journey to unravel the mysteries of the VIN code!
How To Find Gear Ratio By VIN
This standardized identification method was adopted in 1980. Since then every automobile comes with a unique 17 character (previously 13) code that holds all its history and data.
Structure of the VIN Code:
The 17 letters and numbers are classified into three groups, namely – WMI, VDS, and VIS.
World Manufacturer Identifier or WMI is indicated by the first 3 characters. They include the manufacturer’s country.
Vehicle Descriptor Section or VDS consists of every detailed knowledge regarding the automobile body parts – be it the engine size and code, trim level, safety equipment, or body style, all of it is carried by the 4th to 8th characters.
The 9th character has nothing to do with the car but stays as a check digit marker. You might have guessed by now that this section right here is where we’re going to find about the gear ratio, and you’re right!
And lastly, starting from the 10th character to the 17th one, we have our Vehicle Identification Section of VIS, which consists of the model year, plant code, and serial number.
You’re now familiar with the basics of the sequence, but how would you decode it?
Let’s dive into the probable steps!
Locate the VIN Code:
First and foremost, you need to find where the VIN code of your vehicle is at. The most common place to find it is near the dashboard or on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb.
Just above the steering wheel, you’d find an embedded plate in the dashboard made of metal. The code would be stamped on the plate, and you’ll find it easily if you look closely.
If it’s not there, you might look out for the white or black sticker stamped inside the door on the driver’s side. You’ll find other certification numbers and axle codes here as well.
You’ll also find it on your car registration paper, lien paper and sometimes even on the number plate. The code is found altogether in all the places too.
Find the code and note it down carefully somewhere. Now that you have the code, it’s time to learn to decode!
Here is where we need to emphasize the VDS section. Identify the 4th to 8th characters from the code.
The easiest way to derive information from the code is to contact an automobile dealer or the customer care service for your vehicle.
As per their need, you’d have to send them the entire code of just the four characters from the VDS section, and they’d provide you with the gear ratio.
Online guides can be much helpful as well. You need to find a reliable decoding website, and you’re good to go.
“Decode This”, “Edmunds.com,” and “National Highway Safety Administration” is the most trusted and popular sites.
If you want to search for the gear ratio specifically in regards to the vehicle model, you can go to a Wikibooks segment called “VIN codes: Table of Contents”, you’ll find all the manufacturer-specific information here. You can join the specific forums as well.
Unfortunately, not all VIN codes are manufactured the same way, and as such, some might not carry the gear ratio information.
So, we suggest along with learning to find it from the VIN code, you should have an idea for the alternative ways as well.
What If The VIN Code Doesn’t Give Away The Gear Ratio?
Although the VIN is a crucial part that holds all the necessary information, at times, we cannot solely rely on it.
The information we get from the code can only be trusted if the rear-end gears or the differentials are the original ones for our vehicle. If you have modified or changed parts, the data might not hold.
If not through the VIN code, your first choice would be to search in the glove box.
As mentioned before, the specific body parts can come with the gear ratio stamped on them. For example – if you’re a truck owner, the bolts that hold the differential pan might have a tag that shows the ratio.
If you want to go for more accuracy, you can always take in a bit more time and effort and check the rear-end of your vehicle taking safety precautions.
Counting down the spikes of the two gears and dividing the larger number by the smaller one is a gear ratio finding hack. Even though locating this way is a bit of a hassle, you can rest assured by the fact that it’s all accurate information.
Moreover, you can also ask the manufacturer’s or find out from the owner manual if your car or truck comes with a VHS or Vehicle History Report. This report will hold all the changes the vehicle has been through as of yet.
We hope the VIN code doesn’t deceive you and assists you in finding the gear ratio. But if not, you know not what step to take next!
VIN codes are a magical creation for sure, but it has its shortcomings too. But we believe everyone would agree that learning about what each of the characters holds would help them for a lifetime, and be aware of how to find gear ratio by VIN is a power you must possess.
The gears of our vehicles maximize the efficiency and power it, and it’s prominent to learn and stay up to date for the welfare of our automobile buddy. The right gear ratio promises us a safe journey.
Stay aware of the magic your unique VIN code and the gear ratio holds, and have a safe drive!
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Thomas is a retired motor mechanic, father, and grandfather. He writes from his 20+ years in the automotive industry to help you find and solve anything related to car repairs, maintenance, and care.