Every Honda CR-V Hybrid comes with a fart joke in its VIN
- We noticed this rather amusing Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the long run. Honda CR-V hybrid.
- This made us wonder if Honda did it for fun or was it an accident? (Honda said it was the latter).
- Each digit in the VIN stands for something, and here’s our guide to what it all means.
Farts are funny. The 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is usually anything but. Undaunted by this commonly overlooked abyss of comedy, The Honda CR-V hybrid merges the two by inserting “FART” into his VIN. We first noticed this a few months ago. When we stopped laughing — is it funnier because it’s a hybrid? — we wondered if Honda did this on purpose, and if there is any loophole that prevents more nefarious four-letter words from infiltrating the VIN.
Starting with the 1981 model year, automakers must follow the 17-character format below. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 565.13 and 565.15 specify, among many, many other painstaking details, that VIN characters must be at least 4 millimeters tall and in a sans-serif font. Another fun fact: the letters ‘I’, ‘O’ and ‘Q’ are never used in the VIN, to avoid confusion with ‘1’ and ‘0’. Those parts of the regulation also define what goes into each position in the VIN. Using our long-term CR-V Hybrid as an example, here’s what those signs mean:
The first three characters are the “world manufacturer identifier”, assigned by the engineering group International SAE and identifies the country, the car manufacturer, and sometimes the factory where the vehicle was manufactured. In this case, Honda says it uses “7FA” for vehicles built at its Indiana plant. The country can often be identified by the first digit (1, 4 or 5 = USA; 2 = Canada; 3 = Mexico; J = Japan; L = China; S = United Kingdom, W = Germany; Z = Italy). Our CR-V is made in the USA, but that’s not always the case for a vehicle with the letter ‘7’ at the beginning.
Characters four through eight are specific to the automaker and usually include vehicle details such as powertrain and body style.
The ninth digit is a check digit that ensures the validity of the VIN, which helps protect against fraud. It is calculated using a formula developed by the US Department of Transportation.
10th the digit indicates the model year. Repeats every 30 years (eg K = 1989 or 2019, L = 1990 or 2020, M = 1991 or 2021).
11th the mark indicates the factory where the vehicle was manufactured, with each car manufacturer maintaining its own set of factory codes.
The last six digits are the serial number that identifies the specific vehicle and its position in the production series. At six figures, the automaker would need to build a million units per model year to run out of space. Some smaller vehicles instead use the first three of these digits to identify their manufacturer. In that case, they don’t get a unique worldwide manufacturer identifier from SAE, and the fact that they will use these later characters to identify the car manufacturer is signaled by the ‘9’ in the third position of their VIN.
A Honda spokesperson says the reference to the barking spider in the CR-V was not intentional. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agency responsible for managing VIN submissions, confirmed that it is up to the automaker to monitor any spam found in its own identification numbers.
While we were putting this story together, Jalopnik happened upon the a special CR-V Hybrid VIN with even more packed into it.
In the CR-V’s case, the whole thing was a happy accident, and what turned out to be an incredibly complicated multi-organization prank – backed up by SAE’s “7FA” World Manufacturer Identifier and brought home by Honda’s “RT6” designation for the CR-V Hybrid . You’re welcome, world.
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Director, Vehicle Testing
Dave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in roles ranging from engineering to product consulting, and is now leading Car and Drivervehicle testing efforts. Dave had a very fortunate start at C/Du by accidentally submitting an unsolicited resume at just the right moment to land a part-time job as a road warrior while a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became enamored with the world of automotive journalism.