There are a staggering 272 million registered vehicles in the United States alone.
Of all these vehicles, GM, or General Motors, takes the lead in sales. It’s the biggest auto market shareholder in the country, accounting for 17% of all auto sales in 2019.
This immense popularity of GM is also the reason behind the boom in GM car parts production. Today, you’ll find both OEM and aftermarket parts for Chevys, Buicks, and other GM brands.
If you’re planning to get any of these parts, you first need to know their exact GM part numbers. Whether it’s a new oil filter, headlight, or seatbelt, each of them has a specific part number.
So, how exactly do you find and learn about these part numbers? What are these numbers for anyway?
We’ll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to read until the end!
A Primer on Part Numbers
A car part number standardizes and simplifies the identification of a particular part. It is an unambiguous reference to a part design, making that design easy to distinguish. It also differentiates a part design within a single manufacturer.
In the auto industry, each part design, such as a brake pad or cylinder head, has a unique part number. Most of these numbers are different for each vehicle make, model, and year. For example, the Chevy part numbers for a 2016 Silverado are different from those in a 2020 Silverado.
By knowing these numbers, you can make certain that you get the exact part you need for your ride. Mechanics and parts suppliers will know what part you’re referring to when you mention this number. This eliminates confusion and the potential of incorrect part replacements.
Note that the same parts can differ between car models and years, even if they go into the same make. Not all parts are interchangeable, even those intended for the same make. They can vary in size, additional functions, and features.
That’s why you need the exact part number, as you could end up with a part that won’t fit your car. Using the wrong car part can damage your car’s internal components. So, always check and confirm that you have the right part number before you buy anything.
Determining GM Part Numbers through Your VIN
The VIN, or vehicle identification number, is the quintessential figure of all car part numbers. Each manufactured vehicle has its own unique seventeen-character VIN. Think of this number as a vehicle’s DNA, which means that no two operational vehicles have the same VIN.
Each VIN consists of 17 alphanumeric (a mix of capital letters and digits) characters. With the VIN alone, a parts supplier can already decode the year, make, and model of a particular vehicle. It will already tell them the car’s specs, unique features, and even the registration info.
Most importantly, they’ll know the car’s specific parts, including their part numbers.
Let’s say you need to replace the front brakes in your 2016 Chevy Colorado, and you want to buy auto parts online. All you need to provide is the VIN, and the system will know the exact type of spark plugs you need. The same goes for filters, lights, brakes, wheels. You name it. The VIN will take care of it.
With the VIN alone, you can already learn a specific GM part number without getting your hands dirty.
Note that cars manufactured before 1981 may not have a 17-digit VIN. That’s because the law that required automakers to use a 17-digit VIN only started in 1981.
What a VIN Looks Like
The first three characters in a VIN refers to its world manufacturer identifier (WMI).
In the U.S., the first character of a VIN is a number: either 1, 4, or 5. In Canada, this is always 2, while in Mexico, it’s 3. Cars manufactured in other countries use letters, such as J for Japan, S for England, and W for Germany.
The second character of VINs denotes their specific manufacturer. So, the second character of your GM car would always be G, as this stands for General Motors. That said, the first two characters of your Chevy, Buick, or Cadillac could be either of these three: “1G” “4G”, or “5G”.
As for the third character, GM uses that to specify the specific brand of the vehicle. It’s 1 for Chevy cars, C for Chevy trucks, and 4 for Buicks.
Characters eight to four indicate the vehicle’s specs, such as if it’s a two-door or an SUV. The ninth digit is the “check digit”, which validates a VIN. The 10th character signifies the vehicle’s model year.
The 11th digit refers to the specific facility or plant that assembled the vehicle.
The remaining six characters are part of a serial numbering system. These differentiate your ride from every other car of the same make.
Where to Find Your VIN
Cars manufactured by GM have a VIN stamped onto a plate found on the left side of the dashboard. It’s easier to view this from the outside of your car: look through your front window and you’ll see the plate with the VIN.
You can also find the VIN of Fords, Chevys, and other GM cars on the driver’s side door jamb. Open the driver’s door and then look at the pillar where the door connects with the car body. You should find a sticker there indicating your ride’s VIN.
The engine bay area (under the hood) is another place where you may find your VIN. Usually, it’s on a sticker near a firewall, strut tower, or the top or front-engine block.
Let’s say you don’t have access to your car at the moment, but you want to know your VIN now so you could take advantage of a money-saving parts deal. You can find your VIN in your car’s history report, along with its make, model, and year.
Looking Up Part Numbers through Make, Model, and Year
In the rare case that you can’t find your car’s VIN, check your car’s rear exterior. There should be a decal, emblem, or badge that tells you its specific make, model, year, and trim. You can use these details to find to look up a Chevy part number.
Always Get the Right GM Car Part with the Right Part Number
There you have it, your ultimate guide on the easiest, fastest way to find GM part numbers. All you need is the 17-digit VIN, which already has the “insider info” on every part of your ride. With the VIN, you don’t have to go through each part of your car, many of which are hard to find or downright inaccessible.
Still having a hard time finding your VIN or knowing what part number you should order for your GM vehicle? We can help! Call Huber Chevy at (402) 206-2117, ask for the service department, and we’ll help you find not just your VIN, but also the exact part, and number, you need.