Knowing your vehicle’s paint code can be important for a variety of reasons. The paint code tells you the exact paint color, finish, and formulation used on your specific vehicle when it left the factory. This allows you to get an exact color match if you ever need a touch up or repaint job. But how do you find out what your paint code is if you don’t have it readily available? Fortunately, there is a way to decode your vehicle’s VIN number to determine the paint code.
What is a paint code?
A paint code is essentially a formula that automakers use to mix the exact custom paint color for each specific vehicle model and trim variation. Every vehicle that rolls off the assembly line gets its own unique paint code that matches the exterior color option selected.
Paint codes consist of a combination of letters and numbers that identify the color, type of paint, metallic or pearlescent additives, and gloss finish. This paint “recipe” allows auto paint suppliers to remix the same exact color over and over again for future touch up needs.
Some examples of paint codes:
– WA8624 = Pure White Solid Paint
– NB8P = Blue Metallic Pearl Paint
– GAR = Gray Metallic Paint
Without knowing the specific paint code for your vehicle, it would be extremely difficult to color match any paint work needed in the future.
Why is my paint code important to know?
There are a few key reasons why having your unique paint code is useful information to have on hand for your vehicle:
– Touch Up Paint – If your paint gets chipped or scratched, accurate touch up paint is essential. Touch up paint pens and bottles are color matched to your factory paint code.
– Body Work – In the event of body damage that requires repainting a panel or section, the shop will need your paint code to blend new paint to perfectly match the original color.
– Replacement Parts – If you need to replace a body panel like a fender, door, or bumper, they can be ordered pre-painted with your paint code so they are guaranteed to match the rest of your paint.
– Selling/Trading In – Documenting your paint code proves important when selling or trading in your vehicle. It demonstrates your exterior paint is original and can increase resale value.
So in summary, the paint code keeps a fingerprint of your factory original paint that allows it to be duplicated precisely as needed over your vehicle’s lifetime.
Can I find my paint code using my VIN?
Luckily the answer is yes! While your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) primarily serves to identify your specific vehicle, it also contains codes that can be decoded to reveal useful data like the paint color, interior upholstery, engine & transmission specifications, and more.
With the right resources, your complete 17-digit VIN can be cross-referenced to lookup the paint color code used on your vehicle when new.
Here are some ways you can use your VIN to find your color code:
1. Vehicle Repair Manuals
Digging into online or printed repair manuals for your vehicle make, model, and year will often provide a VIN decoder chart. These charts allow you to match up the 10th digit or character of your VIN to the corresponding factory paint color code.
If the 10th digit “1” correlates to paint code “ABC123”, then ABC123 is your color.
2. Dealer Parts Departments
Your car dealer’s parts department will often have access to VIN decoding resources and databases that pair your VIN to the factory paint code. Giving them a call with your VIN handy can provide this color info.
3. Online VIN Decoders
There are a number of free online VIN look up tools and databases that specifically provide paint code data, such as:
Simply enter your full 17-digit VIN and check the color code in the detailed specs results.
4. Mobile Apps
Apps like Decode This! allow you to scan your VIN barcode or enter your VIN manually to return the color code details with a simple mobile lookup. Very handy when on the go!
Where is the paint code located on my vehicle?
Knowing where to physically find the factory paint code sticker or label on your vehicle is also helpful. In most cases, the paint code will be listed in one of these locations:
– Door jamb or inside edge of the driver’s door
– Glove compartment or inside trunk/hatch
– Under the hood on radiator support or firewall
– Rear edge of the engine bay
On some vehicles it may be a small sticker or plastic tag, while on others it is printed directly on the metal. Check all these areas thoroughly and you should come across your color ID.
Some manufacturers list the code as 3 or 4 digits/letters, while others spell out the entire color name. But they all serve to identify the exact mix.
Can I use my VIN if the paint code sticker is missing?
It’s certainly possible over time for the original paint code sticker on the vehicle to have gone missing, fallen off, or become too faded or dirty to read clearly.
But not to worry – this is where having your VIN as a backup method of determining the color code comes in very handy! Even with no visible paint code label on the car, you can use your VIN to track down the code through the options outlined earlier.
As long as you have your 17-digit VIN, a paint shop can use it to identify the correct factory color formula to perfectly match for any necessary paint work. Your VIN always stays with the vehicle, making it the go-to for paint details.
What if my vehicle has been repainted?
Things can get a little more tricky if your vehicle has been repainted from the factory color at some point in the past. If it was repainted a long time ago, there may be no good way to find out what the original color was.
But say it was repainted more recently and you wanted to get it changed back to the factory color – could you determine the original paint code? Possibly! Here are some tips:
– Check areas that are commonly missed during repaints like the inside of door jambs or underside of hood for an intact code sticker.
– Ask the shop that did the repaint if they have record of the factory color code.
– Search for clues like old paperwork or photos that might indicate the original exterior color.
– Use your VIN to decode the factory color as a starting point if unsure.
– Without definitive proof, you may need to rely on just your best guess for the OEM color.
Getting an exact color match for a repaint back to the original factory color can present a challenge without knowing the codes, but isn’t impossible with some sleuthing.
Can I use my VIN to find my interior color code?
Your VIN can also be used to identify the original interior color of your vehicle! The factory interior color and material codes are encoded in each VIN right along with the exterior paint color data.
This can be helpful to know for restoring faded or damaged upholstery and interior components back to their original appearance. Vinyl and leather dyes and finishes can be precisely matched using interior color codes.
Just plug your full VIN into any of the online VIN decoders or resources mentioned earlier and they will typically provide details on both the original exterior and interior colors used when new.
Having your interior code makes getting perfect color and material matches for replacement upholstery, carpeting, and other interior trim simple. The code keeps an exact record of the colors and materials you started with.
So can you find your paint code using your VIN number? The short answer is yes! While typically located on a sticker or label on the vehicle itself, your car’s VIN provides a foolproof way to uncover the factory original exterior paint color code if needed.
Resources like online VIN decoders make accessing paint color data and other specs tied to your specific VIN quick and easy. So even if your paint code sticker is long gone, your 17-digit VIN can provide the exact paint details needed to get a perfect color match.