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Where is GM paint code on VIN?


The GM paint code provides important information about the exterior paint color used on a GM vehicle. This code is typically 3 digits long and can be found in several locations, including on the vehicle’s VIN label. Knowing where to find the GM paint code can help you identify the correct exterior color when ordering touch up paint, looking up paint formulas for repairs, or researching the build details on a used GM vehicle.

What is the GM paint code?

The GM paint code refers to those 3 digits assigned by General Motors to identify the exterior paint color used on their vehicles. This code will indicate the specific paint color name, type of paint, and paint formula.

For example, a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado in Cajun Red Tintcoat may have paint code “G1Q” – this tells you the color name, that it uses a Tintcoat paint, and provides the formula code for that Cajun Red Tintcoat color.

GM has used paint codes since the 1920s as a way to streamline mass vehicle production and keep track of the different paint options available. The paint code points to specific paint formulas and processes required to get the correct color during assembly.

Where to find the GM paint code on a VIN

There are two main locations where you can find the GM paint code:

1. VIN Label

All GM vehicles have a VIN label affixed to the driver’s side door jamb. This label contains the unique 17-digit VIN number for that vehicle along with other key data including the paint code.

You’ll find the paint code on the VIN label in a 3-digit format amongst other production codes:

Make and Model: Chevrolet Silverado
VIN: 1GCHC29U85E000000
Paint Code: G1Q
Trim Code: XYZ

So in this example, G1Q indicates the Cajun Red Tintcoat exterior color of this particular Silverado. Checking the VIN label is the quickest and easiest way to identify the GM paint code.

2. Build Sheet or Service Records

The GM paint code can also be found on the vehicle’s build sheet or service records.

The build sheet is generated at the factory and lists all the options, parts, and paint codes used when building that specific VIN. This document follows the vehicle throughout production. Service records may also list paint color and paint codes for any body work done after manufacture.

Accessing either of these takes more effort than checking the VIN label but can serve as additional confirmation of the paint color if needed. Build sheets may be found inside the glovebox or under seats and trim panels. Service records would need to be requested from the selling dealer or previous owners.

How to use the GM paint code

Once you know the 3-digit GM paint code, here are some of the useful applications:

  • Ordering touch up paint – Paint codes ensure you get an accurate color match for chips and scratches
  • Looking up paint formulas – Helps when you need to recreate the original paint for repairs and resprays
  • Researching specs – Paint codes can provide more detail on the build of a used GM vehicle

GM keeps thorough records cross referencing each paint code to its color, paint type, and exact mixing formulas. This means paint suppliers can provide perfect color matches and body shops can blend repairs seamlessly into existing paintwork.

When purchasing touch up paint, either online or from your dealership, provide the GM paint code from your vehicle’s VIN label for the best results. The code will tell the paint supplier exactly which formula is needed to get the factory color.

For body repairs, paint codes aid technicians in identifying not only the color but the correct paint types, primers, reducers, and gloss levels used in the original application. This ensures new paint will adhere and cure properly while providing an accurate visible color match.

On used vehicles, checking the GM paint code can give clues into the configuration such as:

  • Two-tone paint if more than one paint code is present
  • Optional colors indicating higher trim levels
  • Changed colors showing possible repaints or aftermarket paintwork

Researching the paint codes along with other key data on the VIN label provides insights into how that particular GM vehicle was initially built.

GM touch up paint – matching factory colors

Factory correct touch up paint ensures invisible repairs to stone chips and minor flaws in the original OEM paintwork. By providing the precise GM paint code you can get a customized touch up paint that perfectly matches your vehicle.

GM has produced vehicles in hundreds of different exterior colors over the years. Even paint colors that share part of their name can vary wildly in actual tone and appearance. Cajun Red is a vivid orange-red color while Garnet Red is closer to a burgundy. Knowing your GM paint code eliminates any guesswork.

Touch up paint matched to the factory paint code will seamlessly blend into the surrounding paint thanks to precision color matching. This makes rock chips and minor imperfections virtually disappear compared to using an incorrect color.

Using the GM paint code when ordering touch up products guarantees you receive exactly the right premixed formula for your particular GM vehicle. Leading suppliers like Langka and Automotive Touchup offer OEM matched touch up paint pens and bottles specific to the make, model, and paint code.

Application is made easy with touch up brushes and pens designed for smaller repairs. Read the product instructions for best results filling chips and scratches. Carefully mask surrounding areas then dab or flow touch up paint into the damaged spot.

Finding GM paint codes for older vehicles

The VIN label with paint code information was standardized in 1954 for GM vehicles. Finding paint codes for GM cars and trucks older than this takes a bit more detective work.

Here are some tips for researching the original paintwork on classic GMs:

  • Check body plates – Look for tags or stickers on inner fenders or firewalls
  • Request build records – GM keeps extensive archives on older vehicles
  • Inspect hidden spots – Look for any evidence of original color behind trim
  • Talk to collectors – Owners clubs document and restore classic GMs

Build sheets from private archives or the GM Heritage Center can confirm exact colors used. Joining collector forums and clubs provides access to experts who may be able to identify mysterious paint codes.

With vintage GMs, a lack of accessible paint code info simply means the color must be physically matched to any remaining touches of original paint. This color sample then becomes the reference for reproduction paint. A knowledgeable professional shop can perform color matching and paint formulation.

Changing your GM paint code

The factory GM paint code will always stay with that VIN. However, it is possible to update or change the code if a vehicle gets repainted.

During a repaint, the body shop may document the new paint application and provide an updated paint code matching the custom or different OEM color now used on the car. This new code can be kept with the service records and added to the VIN label for future reference.

To change the GM paint code on the VIN label itself requires removing the old riveted plate and replacing it with a new one showing updated info. Most states allow minor VIN label modifications as long as they do not obscure the primary 17-digit VIN which should remain untouched.


The GM paint code provides valuable insights into the factory exterior paintwork applied to any new or used GM vehicle. This 3-digit code can be found on the VIN label and other documentation tied to that VIN. With the code, you can order perfectly color-matched touch up paint for repairs and research key details on a vehicle’s original configuration. For pre-1954 GM models, the paint code may not be as readily available but can be determined through investigation and paint color matching. While GM paint codes stay consistent for a vehicle’s life, bodywork and repaints may necessitate updating codes on service records or even the VIN label itself.

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