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What color is my car by VIN?

What color is my car by VIN?

Determining the color of a car by its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is possible with some detective work. The VIN contains coded information about the vehicle’s features and specs, including the exterior color it left the factory with. While VINs don’t explicitly list the color, decoding the paint code in the VIN can reveal this detail. With a few quick online searches and resources, you can find your car’s original color just using the VIN.

Check your vehicle registration

Your motor vehicle registration form often lists the car color, which may be an easy way to find this detail. This paperwork is issued by your state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and contains basic info about your car. If the registration form notes the color, it’s listed as the manufacturer’s original paint color. However, if the car has been repainted a different shade at any point, the new color won’t be reflected on the registration. So this is a good starting point to find the factory color, but may not capture a custom paint job down the line.

Look up the paint code

The VIN itself does not spell out the color name. But it does include a paint code that identifies the original exterior color used on the car. This code is typically 2-3 digits long, containing letters and/or numbers. It’s located in the second segment of the VIN, starting at position 7. To find the paint code:

  • Locate the VIN, often on the driver’s side dash near the base of the windshield or inside the driver’s door jamb.
  • Identify the code at VIN positions 7-9 (or 7-10 for some models).
  • Write down or take a photo of the paint code for reference.

Now that you have the code, you can use it to lookup the color name. Car manufacturers provide guides that match the code to the exterior paint options available that year. Resources include:

  • The vehicle owner’s manual often contains a paint color chart.
  • Manufacturer websites frequently have search tools by VIN or color code.
  • Third-party VIN decoders have databases of color codes.

Input the code to get the year-specific color name. This reveals the car’s original factory paintwork.

Decode through a VIN lookup

Rather than searching the paint code manually, you can decode the VIN through an online lookup tool. By entering the full VIN, these websites and apps can analyze the numeric sequence and extract details about the car. The vehicle data generated will include the original paint color that corresponds to the code in the VIN.

Here are a few reputable VIN decoders to try:

  • NICB VIN Search
  • DMV VIN Check
  • iSeeCars VIN Report
  • AutoCheck
  • Carfax

These services are fast, free, and simple to use. Just input the 17-digit VIN and the color name will populate along with other specs. This automates looking up the paint code separately. The color returned will reflect the manufacturer’s factory paint job unless otherwise noted.

Consult an auto body shop

Auto body and collision repair shops can also determine a car’s color from the VIN. These businesses regularly work with paint codes during repairs and repainting. An experienced auto body technician can quickly interpret the code to identify the original color.

Provide them with the VIN and ask them to decode the paint color based on their resources and expertise. This may yield the most accurate, up-to-date result if the car was repainted after leaving the factory. The shop may uncover where a custom paint job differs from the manufacturer’s original color coded in the VIN.

Resource How to Determine Color
Vehicle Registration Listed directly if original factory color
Paint Code Decode code in VIN digits 7-9/10
VIN Decoder Extract color detail from full VIN
Auto Body Shop Technician interprets paint code in VIN

Identify color name from code

Once you locate the three-digit paint code in the VIN, how do you match it to the actual color name? Each car manufacturer uses their own color codes that correspond to the palette options available that production year.

Here are some common paint codes and color names for major automakers:

Ford Motor Company:

  • YZ – Oxford White
  • UH – Velocity Blue
  • PQ – Race Red

General Motors:

  • GAZ – Summit White
  • GBA – Black
  • G7P – Red Hot

FCA (Chrysler):

  • PW7 – Bright White
  • PS2 – Jazz Blue
  • PR4 – Flame Red

Toyota Motor Corporation:

  • 089 – Super White
  • 8T7 – Galactic Aqua Mica
  • 3T3 – Burning Black

Honda Motor Company:

  • NH-700M – Crystal Black Pearl
  • R-567M – Rallye Red
  • B-558P – Modern Steel Metallic

These are just a sample of common colors and codes. Each automaker will have their own system, so be sure to consult the actual factory color guides to match the paint code from your VIN.

Research original vs. custom colors

While the VIN can pinpoint the original factory paint color, keep in mind the color may have changed if the car was repainted. Custom or aftermarket paint jobs don’t get reflected in the VIN.

So if you decode the color and it doesn’t match the actual exterior paint, the car was likely resprayed a different hue at some point.

To identify a custom paint color:

  • Check vehicle history reports for collision repairs that may have required new paint.
  • Look for signs of overspray or masking lines that indicate repainting.
  • Talk to previous owners about changes they may have made.
  • Ask for paperwork from paint shops that completed the custom job.

This can help you uncover the current color if it differs from the VIN’s original specs. And understanding any repaints will explain any discrepancy between the coded and actual colors.

Limitations of using the VIN

While the VIN is the most insightful resource for identifying factory colors, there are some limitations:

  • Doesn’t reflect aftermarket paint jobs – only shows manufacturer’s original specs.
  • Doesn’t specify special orders – rare cases where standard color offerings didn’t apply.
  • Doesn’t include details like stripes, wraps, decals that modify the appearance.
  • Doesn’t capture fading, damage, or discoloration over time.
  • Doesn’t indicate two-tone paint schemes with multiple colors.
  • Lacks information on interiors – only exterior paint color.

The VIN paint code has its shortcomings. Be sure to examine the actual vehicle and chat with previous owners to get a complete picture of the color’s history. The VIN provides helpful clues, but may not tell the whole story.


Finding your car’s color just from the VIN is doable with some easy detective work. While the VIN itself does not outright list the color, it contains a paint code that matches to the name. This code exposes the original factory specs issued by the manufacturer. A few quick resources like registration forms, online VIN tools, repair shops, and code charts can uncover the color. Just be aware that repaints or custom jobs may make the real-world color differ from the VIN data. But for a starting point, the VIN has you covered to learn what hue your car first rolled off the assembly line.