Guidelines: How To Tell If A Vehicle Is 4WD By VIN

How to tell if a vehicle is 4WD by VIN

In the world of automotive terminology, terms like 4WD (4-Wheel Drive) and AWD (All-Wheel Drive) are often used to describe different types of drivetrains. If you’re considering purchasing a vehicle and want to know whether it is 4WD or AWD, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can provide valuable information. This guide aims to help beginners understand how to interpret the VIN to determine if a vehicle is equipped with a 4WD or AWD system. So, let’s dive in!

Understanding the VIN

Every vehicle has a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which serves as its identifier; you can also see it as its DNA. It is a 5- to 17-character code that contains crucial information about each particular vehicle, and that it’s unique to each own. Manufacturers needed some means of identification for each vehicle manufactured, and they came up with the VIN.

The VIN contains a series of characters that reveal important information about the vehicle’s make, model, manufacturing details, and features. By decoding the VIN, you can extract valuable information about the drivetrain, and with an accurate VIN decoder such as the one provided by Vehicles Report, anyone can easily learn this information before purchasing any car at dealerships.

Where is the VIN located?

If you want to know how to tell if a vehicle is 4WD by VIN, you need to start by learning the locations where the VIN can be found. The VIN is usually located in specific areas of the vehicle, and some of these parts are:

  • The dashboard
  • The driver-side door jamb
  • The engine bay, and more.

Also, another really easy way to locate the VIN is by going through the vehicle documents, such as:

  • The certificate of title
  • Insurance documents, and other vehicle documents.

Once you have located the VIN, you can begin the process of decoding it to uncover details about the vehicle’s drivetrain.

How to tell if a vehicle is 4WD by VIN: Understanding VIN Characters

As earlier mentioned, the VIN contains vast information on the vehicle specifications and can be decoded instantly with the right tools to tell if the vehicle is 4WD or AWD. The information is stored in each character of the VIN, and since we’re focused on learning how to tell if a vehicle is 4WD by VIN, let’s take a look at some of the characters that contain information about the vehicle’s drivetrain. To determine if a vehicle is 4WD or AWD, pay attention to the fourth character.

This character represents the body type of the vehicle of interest, and there are some letters that can help you tell immediately if your vehicle is 4WD by VIN. How? Here’s how. If your VIN has any of these characters in the 4th position, you can boldly say the vehicle is 4WD by VIN:

  • B: This character represents a 4DR truck with 4-wheel-drive or a 4DR sedan with 2-wheel-drive.
  • D: This character represents a 4DR truck with 4-wheel-drive.
  • H: This character represents a 4DR wagon with 4-wheel-drive.
  • L: This character represents a 4DR truck 4-wheel-drive or 4DR wagon 4WD
  • P: This character represents a 2DR regular-cab truck with 4-wheel-drive.
  • W: This character represents a 2DR extended cab, 4-wheel-drive
  • S: This character represents a 3DR liftback with 4-wheel-drive.

Now you know how to tell if a vehicle is 4WD by VIN. But it doesn’t really end here. To be completely sure of your vehicle’s drivetrain, it is recommended to carry out VIN decoding with our free VIN decoder. Yes! I said free, and since it’s free, you have to give it a shot.

Decoding the VIN with our free VIN decoder

The easiest way to tell if a vehicle is 4WD by VIN is with our VIN decoder. The free VIN decoder provided by Vehicles Report is a tool that accurately decodes the 5 to 17 characters of any VIN (whether classic or modern) and returns the vehicle’s specifications. Some of the specifications gotten after the VIN has been decoded with Vehicles Report include:

  • Year
  • Model
  • Trim
  • Engine Description
  • Country
  • Width
  • Length
  • Height
  • Standard seating
  • Engine Size
  • Transmission style
  • Drive type
  • Body type
  • Fuel type
  • Engine model

If you are a used car buyer in the market, it is important to get the VIN decoded before committing to any purchase at all. With the information you’ll get after a VIN has been decoded, you can verify the seller’s claims and information about the vehicle and make the best choices for yourself.

To decode any vehicles VIN with our VIN decoder, all you have to do is:

  1. Navigate to the VIN decoder page.
  2. Fill out the provided form with the required information.
  3. Select “Check VIN.”

What more do we have to offer?

After your VIN has been decoded for free, you can also gain more information with our VIN check tool. This tool provides you with detailed information on vehicle history and records from the past. Some of the information provided with this paid service includes:

  • Accident history
  • Auction records with more than 10 photos
  • Sales history
  • Damage records
  • Vehicle specifications
  • Lien and loan records
  • Theft records
  • Ownership history
  • Title-brand records
  • Warranty information
  • OEM maintenance schedules
  • Service history, and more

After your VIN has been decoded and checked, you will immediately receive a detailed and concise vehicle history report. However, be aware that the full VIN check service comes with a fee.

How To Tell If Vehicle Is AWD By VIN

Are you interested in knowing how to tell if a car is all-wheel-drive? The easiest way to tell if a vehicle is AWD is by decoding the VIN with our free VIN decoder. This way, you can easily confirm the vehicle’s drivetrain while gaining access to other vehicle features and specifications for free.

Difference between 4WD, AWD, and 2WD

Asides the 4WD (four-wheel-drive) and AWD (all-wheel-drive), there’s also the 2WD (two-wheel-drive). Each drivetrain configuration offers distinct advantages and is suitable for different driving conditions and preferences. Let’s explore the key differences between the 4WD, AWD, and 2WD systems.

Aspect 4WD (Four-Wheel Drive) AWD (All-Wheel Drive) 2WD (Two-Wheel Drive)
Power Distribution
Power to all four wheels
Power to all four wheels continuously or selectively based on traction
Power to either front or rear wheels
Off-Road Capabilities
Excellent for off-road driving, can handle rough terrains, equipped with features like low-range gearing and locking differentials
Moderate off-road capabilities, suitable for light off-road conditions, limited or no low-range gearing
Primarily designed for on-road driving, not intended for off-road use
Traction and Stability
Enhanced traction and stability on various road surfaces, ideal for challenging weather conditions
Improved traction and stability, suitable for varying road conditions, performs well in rain and light snow
Adequate traction, may struggle in slippery conditions compared to AWD or 4WD
Excellent acceleration, cornering, and dynamic performance on and off-road
Good on-road performance, maintains stability during cornering and acceleration
Standard on-road performance, may lack the agility and acceleration of AWD or 4WD
Fuel Efficiency
May have lower fuel efficiency due to additional drivetrain components and continuous power to all wheels
Can offer better fuel efficiency compared to 4WD systems as power is selectively distributed
Typically more fuel-efficient than AWD or 4WD systems due to powering fewer wheels
Cost and Maintenance
Higher initial cost and potentially higher maintenance costs due to complex drivetrain components
Moderate initial cost and maintenance requirements, lower complexity compared to 4WD
Lower initial cost and maintenance requirements compared to AWD or 4WD systems
Common Vehicle Types
Trucks, SUVs, off-road vehicles
SUVs, crossovers, sedans, performance cars
Sedans, hatchbacks, most passenger vehicles
Off-road enthusiasts, heavy-duty applications, extreme weather conditions
Versatile option suitable for various road conditions, light off-road use
Everyday driving, urban environments, commuting

Decoding the VIN is an invaluable skill when it comes to understanding the drivetrain of a vehicle. By identifying the VIN position, understanding the VIN characters, and interpreting the information, you can determine if a vehicle is equipped with a 4WD or AWD system. With this beginner’s guide, you’re also equipped with knowledge on how to tell if a vehicle is 4WD or AWD by VIN, as well as other details hidden within a vehicle’s VIN. So, go ahead and confidently explore the world of 4WD, AWD, and even 2WD vehicles, knowing that you have the tools to understand their capabilities.


ALSO READ: How To Get A Subaru Build Sheet By VIN in Simple Steps

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my VIN is 2WD or 4WD?

You can determine if your vehicle is 2WD or 4WD by examining the fourth character of the VIN. If the fourth character of your VIN matches any of the following letters: B, D, H, L, P, W, or S, it indicates that your vehicle is 4WD. You can use our reliable VIN decoder to accurately decode your VIN and confirm the drivetrain configuration.

How do you know if a car is 4WD?

To determine if a car is 4WD simply use the VIN decoder tool offered by Vehicles Report to quickly and accurately decode your car’s VIN and confirm the drivetrain configuration.

How do I know if my car is FWD or RWD?

The VIN does not directly indicate if a car is Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) or Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD). To determine the drivetrain layout of your car, you can use the VIN decoding service provided by Vehicles Report.

How do I know if my vehicle is AWD?

By decoding the VIN, you can determine if your vehicle is All-Wheel Drive (AWD).

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