On the E36 3 Series, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is stamped in the body, under the hood near the right side of the climate control fresh air intake. On the E30 3 Series, the VIN is stamped on the right side near the heater cowling.
The VIN is also printed on a sticker in the left side door jamb on all vehicles. The VIN can also be found on a plate mounted to the dash near the driver's side of the windshield.
Most vehicles also have the VIN printed on a label and attached to, or stamped into body parts, the engine and the transmission. This is for identification and to help discourage vehicle theft.
The production date of a vehicle may not necessarily determine the model year of the vehicle. The best way to determine the model year of a vehicle produced for sale in the United States after 1980 is to use the VIN. The Department of Transportation (DOT) instituted a standardized 17 digit VIN numbering system to be used by all manufacturers for vehicles sold in the United States. As a result of this standardization, the VIN can be used to determine a vehicle's model year for any vehicle produced for sale in the United States since 1980.
The 10th position of the 17-character VIN contains the vehicle model year. VIN positions 12 through 17 are the vehicle's serial number.
The 17-character label contains the following information:
The manufacturer's plate is located in the engine compartment, on the right side inner fender panel or support.
The vehicle identification number is located on a plate, on the driver-s side of the instrument panel.