A vehicle identification number (VIN) is the 17-digit "name," made up of numbers and characters, that an automobile manufacturer assigns to an individual vehicle. Vehicle identification numbers can reveal a number of things about automobiles, including their airbag type, country of origin, engine size, model year, vehicle type, trim level and plant name. The VIN (sometimes known, redundantly, as the VIN number) is key to safety. By entering a VIN in the free tool from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can see whether a vehicle is subject to a recall. Typically, the VIN is stamped into a plate that's mounted on the dashboard near the windshield or on the driver-side door jamb. It's also stamped on the engine's firewall.