How to Find and Decode a Snowmobile VIN Number [Example]


You can find the VIN number on a snowmobile on the right side of the tunnel, a couple of inches below the bottom edge of the seat. On modern sleds, the VIN number contains 17 digits, which stand for:

  • 1st digit: Country of manufacture
  • 2nd digit: Vehicle manufacturer
  • 3rd – 8th digits: Vehicle descriptor (Code of particular attributes)
  • 9th digit: Security check digit
  • 10th digit: Model year
  • 11th digit: Manufacturing plant
  • 12th – 17th digits: Production number (Serial number)

If you want to find out more about how to decode a snowmobile VIN number, keep reading. We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know into this post!

Snowmobile VIN Number Example

What is the VIN Number on a Snowmobile?

Just like motorcycles, cars, and trucks, snowmobiles also have a unique code for identification. This code is known as the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and assigned to the snowmobile when it’s manufactured. The VIN number on a snowmobile provides specific information about the machine, including the make and model, the manufacturer, the country and year of manufacture, and the serial number.

Where is the VIN Number on a Snowmobile?

As a rule of thumb, the VIN number on snowmobiles is always located on the right side of the tunnel, about a couple of inches below the edge of the seat. In other words, if you sit on the seat and place your feet on the footrests, you will find the VIN somewhere next to your right foot.

On older snowmobiles, the VIN is only stamped into the frame, while on newer sleds, you can typically find a “VIN plate,” which may also contain additional information about the sled.

Thes VIN plate is easy to locate as it’s usually surrounded by a couple of stickers.

If You Can’t Find the VIN Number on Your Snowmobile

There could be many reasons why the VIN number is missing on a snowmobile, but the most common are:

  • The VIN plate fell off or was removed
  • The VIN number is covered by a decal (wraps, stickers, etc.)
  • The tunnel of the sled was replaced
  • The sled was stolen
  • Factory defects

In some cases, the VIN plate can accidentally fall off the sled. If you can’t find the plate, take a closer look at the tunnel, as the VIN should always be stamped into its surface as well.

It’s also not uncommon for decals or stickers to be covering the VIN. Try carefully removing them to find the code.

If your tunnel is wrapped and you don’t want to remove it, you can trace it on a piece of paper with a simple trick.

Just place a piece of paper over the area where the code is, grab a pencil and rub over the paper with it. The stamped numbers will clearly show up on the paper!

You can see the process in this tutorial:

If you can’t locate the VIN, you should check the engine, as many sleds have the VIN number on their engines. It’s typically stamped on the lower side of the engine, around the recoil housing.

Finally, don’t forget that the VIN is also featured on the bill of sale, title, and the sled’s service documents.

If these documents are not available, try contacting the sled’s previous owner. If you are lucky, he can provide the number for you.

What does a Snowmobile VIN Number Look Like?

The VIN number on a snowmobile is a code made up of numbers and letters printed in a single line. On newer sleds, the VIN number always consists of 17 digits. On vintage sleds, the VIN is typically shorter, about 7-10 digits depending on the make and model.

There used to be a lot of confusion regarding snowmobile VINs in the past, as every manufacturer was using different codes.

For instance, Yamaha snowmobile VIN numbers were 9-digits long, while Arctic Cat snowmobiles used 7-digit VINs.

In 1982, the International Organization for Standardization established a new standard for VIN numbers on new street-legal vehicles. Later this new standard became mandatory for snowmobiles as well.

This new standardized snowmobile VIN number is an alphanumeric 17-character code printed in a single line without intervening spaces. It never contains letters like Q (q), I (i), and O (o), as they could be easily mistaken for the numbers 1 and 0.

Are you wondering how to read a snowmobile VIN number? Keep reading!

How to Read a Snowmobile VIN Number?

In a nutshell, the digits in a snowmobile’s VIN stand for:

  • 1st digit: Country of manufacture
  • 2nd digit: Vehicle manufacturer
  • 3rd – 8th digits: Vehicle descriptor
  • 9th digit: Check digit
  • 10th digit: Model year
  • 11th digit: Manufacturing plant
  • 12th – 17th digits: Serial number

The first digit always refers to the country of manufacture. The official country codes are as follows:

  • 1,4 or 5: United States
  • 2: Canada
  • J: Japan
  • Y: Finland or Sweden

The second digit identifies the manufacturer of the snowmobile. For example, the codes of the biggest snowmobile manufacturers are as follows:

  • A – Arctic Cat
  • B – BRP (Ski-Doo, Lynx)
  • P – Polaris
  • Y – Yamaha

The 3rd-8th digits are known as the “Vehicle descriptor,” which characterize the sled’s particular attributes such as the model, engine type, and body style.

The 9th digit is a security check digit that can be used to detect invalid VINs. This number is calculated based on a secret mathematical formula developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Therefore, it doesn’t provide any information about the sled.

If you want to tell the year of a snowmobile by the VIN number, you should take a closer look at the 10th digit. Although this code represents the year of manufacture, it can be confusing. So, for a better understanding, we’ve compiled the year codes into one chart:

Model Year Code
1980 A
1981 B
1982 C
1983 D
1984 E
1985 F
1986 G
1987 H
1988 J
1989 K
1990 L
1991 M
1992 N
1993 P
1994 R
1995 S
1996 T
1997 V
1998 W
1999 X
2000 Y
2001 1
2002 2
2003 3
2004 4
2005 5
2006 6
2007 7
2008 8
2009 9
2010 A
2011 B
2012 C
2013 D
2014 E
2015 F
2016 G
2017 H
2018 J
2019 K
2020 L
2021 M
2022 N
2023 P
2024 R
2025 S
2026 T
2027 V
2028 W
2029 X
2030 Y

The 11th digit indicates which plant assembled the sled, while the 12th through 17 digits are the machine’s serial number.

Do You Need More Information?

If you need additional information on your sled, the best practice is for you to write down the whole VIN number and contact the manufacturer. Although you can find many services that can provide reports and information based on VIN numbers, these typically don’t include sleds or other powersport vehicles. Because of this, the only way to find out more about a sled is to contact the manufacturer.

How do I Find Out What Year My Snowmobile is?

You can easily determine your snowmobile’s model year from its VIN. If your sled features a 17-digit VIN, the 9th digit identifies its model year. If you have a vintage sled with a shorter VIN, it’s recommended that you contact the manufacturer for further information.

Takeaways – FAQs About Snowmobile VIN Numbers

As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the most frequent questions about snowmobile identification numbers.

What is the VIN number on a snowmobile?

The VIN number on a snowmobile is a unique code that provides a lot of information about the machine. This code can identify the sled’s model year, manufacturer, country of manufacture, serial number, and a lot of other specific factory details like the model or the type of engine and chassis.

How long is a snowmobile VIN?

As a rule of thumb, each modern snowmobile has a 17-digit VIN number, while vintage sleds typically have a shorter VIN with 7-10 digits.

How do you tell the year of a snowmobile by the VIN number?

The 9th digit of its VIN tells you the year of a snowmobile (if it features a 17-digit VIN). For more information, please check our chart above.

Where is the VIN on an Arctic Cat snowmobile?  On the right side of the tunnel, a couple of inches below the bottom edge of the seat.

Where is the VIN on a Yamaha snowmobile? On the right side of the tunnel, a couple of inches below the bottom edge of the seat.

Where is the VIN on a Polaris snowmobile? On the right side of the tunnel, a couple of inches below the bottom edge of the seat.

Where is the VIN number located on a Ski-Doo snowmobile? On the right side of the tunnel, a couple of inches below the bottom edge of the seat.

References:

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