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How do I find the color of my car with the VIN number?

What is a VIN number?

The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is a unique code assigned to every vehicle by the manufacturer. It consists of 17 characters that provide information about the vehicle, such as make, model, year, assembly plant, and more. The VIN is located in several places on your vehicle, including on the driver’s side dashboard, engine block, and registration paperwork.

The VIN allows you to learn key details about your car, including exterior color. With a simple VIN lookup, you can decode the paint color code in your VIN. This will tell you the exact name of the color according to the manufacturer.

How to find the color code in a VIN

Locating the paint color in your VIN is easy to do. Here are the basic steps:

1. Locate the full 17-digit VIN. It’s most commonly found on the driver’s side dashboard at the base of the windshield. You can read the VIN through the windshield outside the car.

2. Identify the 4th to 8th positions in the VIN. This string of 5 numbers and letters contains the paint color code.

3. Look up these 5 digits in a VIN decoder to find the specific color name. There are many free online VIN lookup tools that will instantly decode your color code.

4. Confirm the color name obtained from the VIN with your vehicle paperwork or a visual inspection of the car.

Let’s look at an example:

VIN: 1HGCM82633A004352

The color code based on positions 4-8 is: 82633

When we input this into a VIN decoder, the color name provided is: Nighthawk Black Pearl

This method works for all makes and models. The color code will be located in the 4th to 8th digits, though the length of the code may vary.

Free VIN decoders to lookup color

There are many free VIN lookup tools available online to help you uncover your vehicle’s color. Here are some reliable decoders to consider using:

  • DMV VIN Decoder – Provides basic free color lookup with other details
  • VinDecoderz – Includes exterior color in its instant VIN check
  • National Insurance Crime Bureau – Offers free and fast VIN decoding
  • CarMD – Extensive vehicle history report with color info
  • iseecars VIN decoder – Easy color lookup from VIN

These services simply require you to input the full 17-digit VIN to receive the color code translation. The color name matching your code will be provided in the decoding report.

Some more advanced VIN tools provide additional details beyond exterior paint color, such as interior color, trim levels, engine specs, recall info, and more. This can be useful if you need broader insight into your vehicle.

Using a VIN decoder to learn more about your car

In addition to exterior color, you can leverage a VIN lookup tool to uncover other useful facts about your vehicle. Here are some of the key things it can tell you:

  • Make and model – Confirm exact vehicle make and model.
  • Year – Identify the model year.
  • Engine – Learn engine size, cylinders, type, power specs.
  • Transmission – Automatic or manual.
  • Drive type – FWD, RWD, AWD, etc.
  • Country of origin – Where the vehicle was assembled.
  • Trim level – Whether base, premium, limited edition.
  • Fuel economy – MPG ratings.
  • Safety ratings – Crash test results.
  • Recalls – View recent recall notices.

Accessing a full vehicle history report via the VIN can be helpful before purchasing a used car. This allows you to confirm technical specs, track maintenance records, check accident history, and verify other vital details about the vehicle’s past.

How to visually identify your car’s color

While the VIN is the surest way to learn your exact vehicle color, you can also identify it through visual inspection in some cases. However, this does not provide the specific color name.

Here are some tips for visually determining vehicle color:

  • Check paperwork – Owner’s manuals and registration often state color.
  • Inspect paint in daylight – Colors show truest in natural light.
  • Look for touch-up paint – Can match to surrounding areas.
  • Check hard-to-see areas – Inside door jambs maintain original paint.
  • Review color chips – Compare paint to color sample chips.

Metallic, pearl, and mica paints have a metallic flake that is difficult to discern visually without the correct lighting. Solid, non-metallic colors are easiest to eyeball.

Visual identification works if you have a general idea of the color name, like blue, red, black, etc. For the exact color designation, the VIN decoder is needed.

What if my VIN doesn’t match the color?

In rare cases, you may find that the color name from the VIN does not match the exterior paint of your vehicle. There are a few reasons this can occur:

– The car was repainted at some point in a different color than original.

– There was an error in the VIN decoding or data records.

– The color code positions were misread from the VIN.

– An incorrect VIN was entered into the decoder.

– Aftermarket body panels were installed in a non-original color.

– The owner customized the color so it no longer matches factory specs.

If you run into this mismatch, first double check that you have the 100% accurate full VIN and are using a reliable VIN decoding service. If the colors still do not align, it’s likely your car was repainted from its original factory color. The VIN will always reflect the initial color while visual inspection shows the current color.

Finding the color code on the vehicle

In addition to using the VIN, you may also find the specific paint color code in other labels on the vehicle itself:

– Door sill or chassis plate – Look for a 3-digit code.

– Glovebox, trunk, or spare tire compartment – May have sticker with code.

– Underhood or engine bay – Stamped metal tag can include code.

– Rear driver’s side door – Check for label with code info.

These color codes are shortened versions of the longer codes found in the VIN. An online decoder can help translate these into full color names. Visually checking labels for codes can provide another route to identifying color if needed.


Finding your car’s exterior color is quick and easy using the VIN number. By decoding the color code in the 4th to 8th digits of your VIN, you can learn the manufacturer’s exact paint name. Online VIN decoders provide free and instant access to this color data based on your VIN lookup. This method gives you precise color information for any vehicle make and model.

VIN Position Description
1st digit Country of origin
2nd digit Manufacturer
3rd digit Vehicle type
4th – 8th digits Vehicle descriptor (includes color code)
9th digit Check digit
10th digit Model year
11th digit Assembly plant
12th – 17th digits Production sequence number

This table outlines the key information encoded within each portion of the 17-digit VIN. As shown, the color code can be isolated within the larger 4th through 8th digit string. Decoding just these 5 characters will reveal your vehicle’s color.

A VIN decoder takes the mystery out of learning your car’s factory paint color. With a simple online lookup, you can have the exact color name in seconds. This information also helps verify any repaint work against the original spec. So whether buying, selling or just satisfying your curiosity, decoding your VIN can unlock valuable facts including exterior color.