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One of the most important pieces of research you will do before buying a used vehicle is checking its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). This will allow you to learn about the vehicle's past -- any accidents, recalls, past owners, etc. But what exactly is a VIN? Ford Motor Company has set up a very convenient page on their site where you can look up a used Ford's VIN (from 1982-present), and they've taken the time to explain a VIN's 17-position breakdown of letters and/or numbers.
1-3: World Manufacturer Identifier
4: Restraint System Type, Brake Type, and GVWR Class (for Trucks and Vans)
5-7: Line, Series, Body Type
8: Engine Type
9: Check Digit
10: Model Year
11: Assembly Paint
12-17: Production Sequence Number
It's not imperative that you know what your used vehicle's VIN means, but as they say, "Knowledge is power." Now, don't you feel a little stronger?