How to Find Paint Code by VIN

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If you need to repair a scratch, fix discoloration, or repaint a classic car, you’ll want to find the vehicle’s original paint code to get the most accurate match. 

Just like the VIN number is a vehicle’s unique identifier, the paint code is the manufacturer’s unique identifier for the original color of the car. 

The only way to guarantee an accurate match to your car’s original color is by using the paint code. 

This page will give you all the information you need to know in order to find your car’s paint code. 

Luckily, it’s not as hard as you may think. 

What is a paint code?

A paint code is a unique commendation of 3-6 characters that denotes the specific exterior and interior paint colors for a particular vehicle. 

The naming conventions for paint codes may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. 

At a minimum, a car will typically contain 2 separate paint codes: one for the exterior color and one for the interior trim. 

Sometimes, the exterior paint may be labeled “C”, “Color”, “Paint”, “PNT”, or “Exterior.”

Interior paint codes may be labeled “INT”, “Interior”, “Trim.”

Other types of names for your car’s paint code may include:

  • CTR: Color and Trim.
  • Upper or U: Upper paint color on a two-toned vehicle.
  • Lower or L: Lower paint color on a two-toned vehicle.
  • CC: Clear coat.
  • BC: Basecoat.

The paint code will then be used to find the exact color of your vehicle. 

Can you find a car’s paint code with the VIN number?

While a VIN number contains a lot of information and vehicle specs about a particular car, one thing that the VIN doesn’t tell you is the vehicle’s original paint code. 

However, if you are unable to locate the paint code in some of the most common locations (see below) or the paint code label is hard to read, you may be able to use the VIN number to help you find it. 

First, locate the VIN and write it down or take a picture for reference. 

Next, contact the car manufacturer or a dealer to ask them to help you look up the paint code with the VIN. There are some online automotive paint code lookups, but the accuracy of those results may vary. 

Additionally, the VIN may also be used by automotive paint companies to ensure the accuracy of the color match.

If you haven’t checked already, use the section below to learn where you can find the paint code on your vehicle.  

How do I find the paint code? 

You can find the specific paint codes for most vehicles on the vehicle itself. 

The paint code will often be included on the vehicle’s VIN plate, certification label, or service information stickers. 

The most common places to locate the paint code stickers include:

  • Inside the driver side door jamb. 
  • Inside the glove compartment.
  • Under the trunk or near the spare tire. 
  • Under the hood in the engine compartment. 

If you’re having trouble finding the paint code locations on your vehicle, refer to your owner’s manual for where you can locate the paint code on your specific vehicle.  

If you’re looking for more specs for your vehicle, you can use our free VIN decoder