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How to Find Out If Your Toyota Was Really Made in Japan

The author is a car enthusiast with lots of knowledge to share with readers.

2010 Toyota Hybrid Concept Car

2010 Toyota Hybrid Concept Car

How to Tell Where Your Vehicle Was Manufactured

Are you a tried-and-true buy-American car buyer? Do you believe all the hype that buying American is better for the economy and buying Japanese is causing our economy to fail? Or are you on the other side of the road, and you believe imports are a better buy and they last longer?

Whatever your preference, you may be surprised to learn that the Toyota you drove to work today was actually assembled in Northern California and the Volkswagen your neighbor is driving was actually manufactured in Mexico. Here is how to tell where your vehicle was actually manufactured, no matter what the model of the vehicle is.

Check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on your car. VIN numbers were first used by Detroit automakers in the 1950s and are now used by insurance companies and law enforcement agencies to determine a vehicle's true make, body style, age, and manufacturer location. The VIN is usually in the front window, visible from the outside, right in front of the driver’s side.

Look at the first characters of your VIN number. The first character of all VIN numbers identifies the location or country in which the vehicle was manufactured, assembled, put together, and distributed.

If the first character of your VIN number is a NUMBER, it means the vehicle was made in the USA, Canada, or Mexico:

Number at begining of VINCountry your car was made in

1, 4, or 5









New Zealand

8 or 9

South America

If your VIN number starts with a LETTER, it means the vehicle was manufactured somewhere overseas, outside the North and South American continents. The most frequently seen letters in the United States are J, K, L, S, W, and Z.

If the vehicle was made in Japan, the first character of the VIN number will be a J; if the vehicle was made in Korea – K; made in China – L; made in England – S; made in Germany – W; made in Italy - Z. Other countries have similar codes and can be researched online.

Letter at beginning of VINCountry your car was made in











The SECOND character identifies the company or corporation that produced the vehicle. Each of the 17 characters in a VIN number means something—additional decoding information can be found online.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where do I find the VIN number on a Vitz KSP 90?

Answer: Most vehicles have a VIN number stamped on the inside door frame and on the inside of the front windshield.