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Discussion Starter #1
I'm wondering if anybody can help me with a VIN question. I have a 2013 Ridgeline, but this is more of a generic question. Mainly, it's because I'm considering buying a Fit in addition to let my daughter use it for college, and I'm concerned about quality issues between Mexico-made cars versus Japanese-made cars. In 2014, Honda moved all of Fit production to Mexico, but there is allegedly a short run of Japanese made Fits ending soon.

I'm confused about the discussions as to decoding the VIN when considering those manufactured in Japan vs Mexico. In discussions about plant manufacture location, it seems that Fit owners/buyers are focused on first three WMI designation only.

My question relates to the 11th digit in the various VINs and what that really means relative to the WMI code. If I have a preference, I'm trying to avoid "made in Mexico" cars.

For example, local dealers with Fits around where I live mostly have VINs similar the following:
JHMGK5H54GXxxxxxx

The JHM WMI code shows Honda Japan as the manufacturer, but the 11th digit shows the assembly/plant as El Salto, Mexico.


But there are a very few VINs with local dealers that are similar to the following:
3HGGK5H9XGMxxxxxx

That decodes as being manufactured by Honda Mexico, but the location of the assembly/plant is Hamamatsu, Japan.

I don't understand what this really means. Is this really the case that the JHM cars are from Japan but assembled in Mexico and the other with the 3HG code is made in Mexico but assembled in Japan?

Can anyone shed light on this with some evidence? As to the two examples above, which one is more accurately "made" in Mexico?
 

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1st digit J = assembled in Japan

1st digit 3 = assembled in Mexico

1st Digit 2 = assembled in Canada

1st Digit 1, 4, or 5 = assembled in USA

11th Digit is assembly line info - not country - not documented too well - I believe it is a code for plant and line and revision level.
 
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Wow, that's interesting. I don't have an answer, but there should never be a VIN with the first character as "J" and the 11th as an "X", and the same is true for "3" and "M".

Logically the first character should trump the 11th since the first character is dictated by NHTSA but the 11th is decided by the manufacturer. So logically any VIN starting with "J" should be a Japan vehicle, and any VIN starting with "3" is Mexico or Cayman Islands.

So my bet is that the first character is the correct country of origin.
 

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Here's a good article on Edmunds.com, How To Make Sense of Your Car's VIN

And here is a Text File I have from an article a while back...

Every car or truck since the 1981 model year has a unique 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) filled with important details, ranging from its engine type to where it was built. The VIN is like a car's Social Security number. You need it when you register your car, buy insurance and bring it in for repairs (so the shop can order the right parts). The police will use it to identify your vehicle if it's stolen. Finally, if you are shopping for a used car, you'll need its VIN to run a vehicle history report.

VINs have been used by American automakers since 1954, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but for years, there was no standardization so they were extremely difficult to decipher. Things are much easier now, but you still need to know the format in order to make sense of those 17 numbers.

Where To Find the VIN
You can find a car's VIN in three major locations: on the driver-side doorjamb, on the firewall in the engine bay and beneath the windshield on the driver side.

Dissecting the VIN
As an example, we're using the VIN from a 2013 Cadillac ATS. Here is the VIN and its breakdown, section by section: 1G6AF5SX6D0125409

World Manufacturer Identifier (1G6)
The first three digits make up the World Manufacturer Identifier.

Position one represents the nation of origin, or the final point of assembly. For instance, cars made in the U.S. start with 1,4 or 5, Canada is 2, Mexico is 3, Japan is J, South Korea is K, England is S, Germany is W and Sweden or Finland is Y.
Position two tells you about the manufacturer. In some cases, it's the letter that begins the manufacturer's name. For example, A is for Audi, B is for BMW, G is for General Motors, L is for Lincoln and N is for Nissan. But that "A" can also stand for Jaguar or Mitsubishi and an "R" can also mean Audi. It may sound confusing, but the next digit ties it all together.
Position three, when combined with the first two digits, indicates the vehicle's type or manufacturing division. In our example, 1G6 means a Cadillac passenger car. 1G1 means Chevrolet passenger cars and 1GC means Chevrolet trucks. There have been many variations on the World Manufacturer Identifier as brands have come and gone. This Wikipedia page has a list of WMI codes.
Vehicle Descriptor Section (AF5SX6)
Digits 4 through 9 make up the Vehicle Descriptor Section.

Positions four through eight describe the car with such information as the model, body type, restraint system, transmission type and engine code.
Position nine, the "check" digit, is used to detect invalid VINs, based on a mathematical formula that was developed by the Department of Transportation.
Vehicle Identifier Section (D0125409)
Digits 10 through 17 make up the Vehicle Identifier Section.

Position 10 indicates the model year. The letters from B-Y correspond to the model years 1981-2000. There is no I, O, Q, U or Z. From 2001-'09, the numbers one through nine were used in place of numbers. The alphabet started over from A in 2010 and will continue until 2030.
Is it confusing? Yes. So here's a list of the model years since 1981: B=1981, C='82, D='83, E='84, F='85, G='86, H='87, J='88, K='89, L='90, M='91, N='92, P='93, R='94, S='95, T='96, V='97, W='98, X='99, Y=2000, 1='01, 2='02, 3='03, 4='04, 5='05, 6='06, 7='07, 8='08, 9='09, A=2010, B='11, C='12, D='13, E='14, F='15,G='16, H='17, J='18

The letter or number in position 11 indicates the manufacturing plant in which the vehicle was assembled. Each automaker has its own set of plant codes.
The last 6 digits (positions 12 through 17) are the production sequence numbers. This is the number each car receives on the assembly line. In the case of our Cadillac ATS, it was the 125,409th car to roll off the assembly line in Lansing, Michigan.
 

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To make this clearer, the OP posted two VIN numbers:

JHMGK5H54GXxxxxxx This VIN first character is "J" which means it's from Japan, but the 11th character is an "X" which is Honda's code for the El Salto, Mexico assembly plant. That's a contradiction.

3HGGK5H9XGMxxxxxx This VIN first character is "3" which means it's from Mexico, but the 11th character is an "M" which is Honda's code for the Hamamatsu, Japan assembly plant. Also a contradiction.

The two VIN's are illogical and shouldn't exist.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As I understood Honda plans for the Fit, they pushed production of the 2016 (at least for a time) to Japan to make way for HR-V at the Mexico locations. Currently 99% of the dealer Fit inventory around Albany, NY is like JHMGK5H54GXxxxxxx. I literally copied that as an actual new vehicle, but just xxxed the serial number. They all show an "X" as the 11th digit. Every single one of the ones starting with JHM....

All of the decoders I tried to find showed the X as El Salto, Mexico. But I'm questioning whether this is true. I'm wondering whether these decoders are just wrong as to this. Is it possible that with JHM WMI code that there are different plant code meanings and that that 11th digit of "X" still means a Japanese plant notwithstanding what some of these decoders are saying?

Whenever I find something official looking from Honda, there is no mention of "X" as a plant code.
 

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Quite Interesting, I guess if I lived near Albany, NY I'd go by one of the dealers and see what they have.

Lia Honda, Albany, NY List of 83 Honda Fit's in Stock, I just looked at this Honda Dealer and I think I only found 3 which had Vin information beginning with the number 3. I know my 2015 is from Mexico, as I looked at the Vin about 15 minutes ago. Again, If it was me I'd either drive down, or message someone in the internet sales department. YMMV

Mohawk Honda, Scotia, NY, List of 35 Honda Fit's in Stock, yet another dealer with only one Vin beginning with the number 3. I was going to refer you the www.fitfreak.net, but I see your already there also.
 

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Here's the list of Honda plant codes (11th character) directly from Honda:

11th Character: Assembly Plant
A = Marysville, Ohio, USA
B = Lincoln, Alabama, USA
B = Aalst, Belgium
C = Alliston, Ontario, Canada
C = Saitama or Sayama, Japan
D = Guadalajara, Mexico
E = Greensburg, Indiana, USA
E = Montesa, Spain
F = Atessa, Italy
F = Ping Tung Factory, Taiwan
H = Alliston, Ontario, Canada
J = Karawang Factory, Indonesia
K = Kumamoto, Japan
L = East Liberty, Ohio, USA
M = Hamamatsu, Japan
P = Ayutthaya Factory, Thailand
R = Manaus, Brazil
S = Suzuka, Japan
T = Tochigi, Japan
U = Swindon, England
X = El Salto, Mexico
Z = Sao Paulo, Brazil
1 = Manaus, Brazil
2 = Guangzhou Factory, China
3 = Huangpu Guangzhou Factory, China
4 = Timmonsville, South Carolina, USA

But despite the above I still believe the first character is the determining factor since it's mandated by NHTSA. The manufacturer can use anything they want for the 11th character plant code.
 

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Thanks for everyone's feedback. Carsmak, yes, I asked the same question at the Fit forums, and I get from some there that the 11th digit just isn't standardized and that Honda can say whatever they want as to that 11th digit. As I said, almost all of the Albany area dealers have mostly JHMs with the "X" in the 11th spot.

Joe, thanks for the Code list. That's what I thought too.

I'm still a little suspicious as to whether these JHM Fits are all truly made in Japan, but it seems to be the consensus that they are, regardless of that 11th digit being "X". But isn't this strange?

Thanks everyone for entertaining the question on the Ridgeline forum. By the way, I personally would probably like to upgrade to the 2nd generation Ridgeline. I know this sounds silly, but I've always felt self conscious about that sloping transition from the cab to the bed even though I like the truck otherwise. But, I just bought my wife a new Pilot and am now looking at a Fit for my daughter to drive, and so I guess I'm going to stick with my existing Ridgeline for quite a while.
 

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My 2006 Ridgeline (Canada production) had a VIN starting with a 2.

I agree with Joe - the first digits indicate country of origin, and is a world-wide standard. I would go by that.

Chip H.
 

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larryr said:
1st digit J = assembled in Japan

1st digit 3 = assembled in Mexico

1st Digit 2 = assembled in Canada

1st Digit 1, 4, or 5 = assembled in USA

11th Digit is assembly line info - not country - not documented too well - I believe it is a code for plant and line and revision level.
Very interesting info.

My 2006 Pilot built in Alabama starts with #5.
My 2008 RL build in Alliston starts with #2.
My 1999 Civic built who knows where starts with #1. USA.

Edit: I misread Joe's 11th digit post! Corrected by larry's info above.
 
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