2020 Toyota Prius Prime
Peter Neilson's picture

Learn Something New About Your Toyota Prius Today

With everyone staying inside for the foreseeable future here is one simple thing you can learn about your Toyota Prius.
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If you have been keeping around the house lately, I am sure you have been looking at your phone or computer. I have been thinking about things that I could write about to help educate Prius owners.

I came up with the idea that I will find something every day to give information on and break it down so everyone can benefit from it. Today we will be covering the VIN tag on your Toyota Prius.

What Is The VIN Placard/Tag?
As the picture shows, the VIN placard is in the door jamb of the drivers' door. The tag shows all the information about the car, including engine, transmission, and when the car was produced. What I want to focus on today is just decoding the VIN.

2008 Toyota Prius VIN Tag

What The Numbers And Letters Mean
I need to say something here before I get too far into this. Saying VIN is sufficient when referring to the VIN of your car. VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. If you are one of those people who say VIN number, please stop, you are only hurting yourself. Now, back to the decoding process.

A VIN is made up of letters and numbers that tell us about the car. It will tell us what country it is made in, what manufacturing plant, what model number, what engine and so on. From the image below, you can see all the various things that are found from that VIN.

Knowing where to find your VIN is especially helpful when having things done to your car such as safety recalls or even ordering parts. Currently, all VINs on cars, including Prius are stamped with a 17 digit identifier string. At one point, VINs were much shorter, but as time has gone on, the need for a longer VIN has proven necessary.

Any way you look at it, your VIN is essential. Know where it is and how to read it. We will break down a VIN I know of in this next segment.

Breaking Down Your VIN
For this example, we are going to use VIN JTDKB20U587779674. I will not tell you where this particular VIN is from as to protect the identity of the person. Yes, you can look up registration information using a VIN from a Prius or any other car, anyway here is the break down of what this Prius is. The value of today is what follows.

Toyota VIN decoder

J - Denotes the origin of the country; in this case, it happens to be Japan. Pretty obvious since that is the only country where Prius is built.

T - Denotes the manufacturer of the vehicle, and in this case, T stands for Toyota. Also obvious.

D - The third digit, when coupled with the first two digits, indicates your vehicle's type or manufacturing division. I had to dig a little for this, but here is what I found. Many plants were building Prius in 2008, but we are not looking for the plant yet. We need to know which division oversaw the build of this Prius, in this case, it was Toyota Auto Body Corp., Crazy how the autobody segment was building Prius along with two other plants at that time.

K - Digit 4 of 17 denotes the braking system of the vehicle. K, in this instance, would give us 4-wheel anti-lock brakes. Not sure how the letter K works with anti-lock brakes, but hey, I did not make the code up.

B - The 5th is vital because it tells you the trim level of your Prius. In our case, here, B represents that is this a package #6 that includes all the factory options you could get at that time from Toyota. This information is helpful to know if you are trying to get a Prius that has the most options, and you do not want to overpay for something that does not come fully loaded. Helpful information.

2 and 0 (not "O" because there are none of those in a VIN) - Denotes the body style of the vehicle. In our case, this is a four-door hatchback sedan.

U - The 8th digit of the VIN always denotes what engine is in the vehicle. This Prius in 2008 came with a 1.5l gasoline engine. Some other cars that are made can come with multiple engines or transmission options, so knowing this 8th digit can be useful when buying parts or having recalls done.

5 - The 9th digit on the VIN is called a "check digit. It is used to verify the authenticity of the VIN on the car. Believe it or not, people used to make their own VIN and resale a vehicle if it had been stolen.

8 - The 10th digit is the famed "year" digit or what year the vehicle is. It is not always signified by a number sometimes, it can be a letter, as shown in the chart below. This digit is helpful to verify if the car is what someone says it is. I have found many times where someone selling a car has no real clue what year it is. Knowing this digit will always keep you accurate.

Check what year your Toyota Prius is by using this chart

7 - The 11th digit is following up with what the 3rd digit started. This digit signifies the plant where the car was built, the actual location. For this Prius, it was made in KARIYA, AICHI, JAPAN.

7 through 4, the last six digits - This run of number is called the production sequence or production numbers. Toyota uses this to identify the vehicle internally. While these digits are often assumed to indicate when a vehicle was produced (i.e., 000001 would be the first car built, 000002 would be the second), this is not always the case.

Conclusion
I hope that everyone found this helpful. I will try to put up more learning pieces about Prius while we are still on lockdown. For now, enjoy the time you have and keep reading up on your incredible hybrid.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next story. What I Learned From Fixing The Headgasket On My 2010 Toyota Prius.

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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.


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