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Decoding Mustang Vehicle Identification Numbers (Mustang VIN Decoder Guide)

Written By: Andrew Cilio

History of VIN Numbers

In the 1950s, mass production of cars increased dramatically, making it difficult to keep track of what vehicles were being made. Detroit manufacturers started using VINs as a way of giving accurate descriptions of any car rolling off the assembly line. These early VINs varied in composition from one manufacturer to another. In the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Transportation stepped in and required all vehicles to contain a 17-digit VIN, establishing the standard system that we still use today.

Okay, but, what is the VIN? In the simplest of terms, a car’s VIN is similar to human DNA – it is unique to your Mustang and everyone's Mustang and can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance claims.

What Do All Those Numbers Making Up My Mustang's VIN Mean?

VINs are made up of 17 numbers and letters (except I, O, and Q). The first three characters are called the WMI or the World Manufacturer Identifier. These characters tell you which country the vehicle was manufactured in, and the second two tell you who the manufacturer is (such as Ford). For example, some country identifiers are listed below:

  • 1, 4, or 5 – means the vehicle was made in the United States 
  • 2 – means the vehicle was made in Canada 
  • 3 – means the vehicle was made in Mexico 
  • J – means the vehicle was made in Japan 
  • S – means the vehicle was made in England

The second character identifies the manufacturer (Ford, Chevy, etc). It can be either a letter (F in the case of Ford) or a number.

The third character identifies the vehicle type (passenger car, truck) or the manufacturing division.

VIN Example

The fourth to eighth characters belong to the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS). These five characters are used by manufacturers to identify your car’s attributes. They'll tell you what size engine you have, what platform, transmission type, and body type. The fourth character will denote safety features. The fifth through seventh are the submodel digits. For example, P8T is an EcoBoost coupe. The eighth character is your engine code. Following our EcoBoost example, H is the 2.3L 4-cylinder.

The ninth character is the check digit (something unique to North America). It's used to verify VIN accuracy and ensures the VINs of any two vehicles produced within a 30 year period won't be identical. There's a lot of math that goes into calculating how to use the check digit with your VIN, and as long as your Mustang doesn't have a suspicious history, you shouldn't have to worry about this digit.

The tenth character identifies the model year. For example: 

  • 1988 – J 
  • 1989 – K
  • 2000 – Y 
  • 2001 – 1 
  • 2002 – 2

The model year identifier starts at 1980 (when VINs were standardized) and started at the letter "A". After "Y" in 2000, the model year identifiers went to numbers starting with "1" in 2001. The number identifiers stopped at "9" and restarted at "A" in 2010.

The eleventh character identifies the assembly plant where your Mustang was built.

The twelfth to seventeenth characters belong to the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS). This number is usually a sequential number. If your Mustang's VIS is 123456, the next Mustang off the assembly line would be 123457. Sometimes the first digit will designate a specific, optional trim line. The last five have to be numeric, however.

If you want a simple way to decode your VIN quickly, check out this useful tool.

Where are the Engine Identification Tags?

  • Foxbody: front passenger side fender
  • SN95: stamped on the engine block
  • S197: drivers side fender apron
  • S550: front of the engine block

Mustang Transmission Identifier

Mustang Transmission Tag Identifier

Mustang Transmission Tags

  • The transmission tag is located on your driver’s side door jam
  • On the bottom right of the tag there is an area labeled TR with 5 letters and numbers
  • Only the first letter/number corresponds to your transmission

When it comes to buying a clutch or a shifter, it is important to be able to identify which manual Mustang transmission is installed in your car. Please note Ford not only changed the type of transmissions used in different year and model Mustangs, but also changed the size of the clutch disk as well.

How to Decode Your Mustang's Transmission Tag Numbers

  • If you have a 6 as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with a five-speed manual, T-45 OD Mustang Transmission
  • If you have a 5 as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with a T-5 OD Mustang transmission
  • If you have a K as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with a TR-3650 Mustang Transmission
  • If you have a P as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with an AODE Mustang Transmission
  • If you have a T as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with an AOD Mustang Transmission
  • If you have a 2 as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with an M5OD (5.0L) Mustang Transmission
  • If you have a U as the first digit, the vehicle was manufactured with a four-speed automatic, 4R70W Mustang Transmission

Some of you may be wondering about the other 2-5 digits. They are related to your Mustang's springs, front/rear which in this case, does not help you in identifying your Mustang transmission.

If you have any other questions regarding your Mustang transmission, don’t hesitate to give a call!

The 1980-1995 Borg Warner & Tremec T5 Manual Transmission

Introduced in the early 1980s, the T5 has found a home in many vehicles as the OEM option. The T5 can handle up to 300 lb-fts of torque.

  • 75 lbs. dry weight
  • Mechanical speedo only
  • 0.63 overdrive
  • T5s were known as the Borg Warner T5 until Tremec bought out Borg Warner in 1995. All 1995 and current T5 transmissions are Tremec T5s
  • The T5 has an input/output of 10/28. It has the following gear ratios: 1st -2.95, 2nd - 1.94, 3rd - 1.34, 4th - 1.00, 5th - .63. Reverse is 2.76
  • The T5 takes 3 quarts of fluid. Recommend: Red Line MT-90 or Royal Purple Syncromax
  • T5s were common in the early 1980s to 1995 Mustang GTs, LXs, and V6s. They were also used until 2004 in all V6 applications

The 1996 to Mid-2001 T45 Manual Transmission

Introduced in 1996, the T-45 5-speed was Tremec's first manual transmission which replaced Borg Warner's T5 transmission. The T45 can handle up to 325 ft-lbs of torque.

  • 109 lbs. dry weight
  • Mechanical & electronic speedo
  • 0.68 overdrive
  • The T45 takes 3 quarts of fluid. Recommend: Red Line MT-90 or Royal Purple Syncromax
  • T45s were common in the 1996 - Mid 2001 GTs, and 1996 - Mid 2001 Cobras. The T45 was not used in the V6 Mustangs

The 2003-2004 Cobra T-56 Manual Transmission

The T-56 Tremec manual transmission is the high-performance option for your Cobra. It features a double-overdrive 6-speed, and Tremec fuses their OEM data and technology with the favorable aspects of their TKO 5-speed. The T-56 Magnum can handle 700 ft-lbs of torque.

  •  135 lbs dry weight
  • Two different gear ratio sets
  • 1st - 2.66, 2nd - 1.78, 3rd - 1.30, 4th - 1.00, 5th - 0.80, & 6th - 0.63. Reverse is 2.90
  • 1st - 2.97, 2nd - 2.10, 3rd - 1.46, 4th - 1.00, 5th - 0.74, & 6th - 0.50. Reverse is the same 2.90
  • Easy shifts, but crips engagement
  • The T-56 takes 3 quarts of transmission fluid. Recommend fluid is Red Line MT-90 or Royal Purple Syncromax
T-56 Manual Transmission Out of the 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra
T-56 out of the 2003-2004 Cobra

The Mid 2001-2004 TR-3650 Manual Transmission

Introduced in Mid 2001, the TR-3650 was Tremec's stronger upgrade over the Tremec T-45 transmission. This TR-3650 can handle up to 360 lb-fts of torque.


  • 120 lbs dry weight
  • Electronic speedo
  • 0.67 overdrive
  • The TR-3650 takes 4 quarts of fluid. Recommend: Red Line MT-90 or Royal Purple Syncromax
  • TR-3650s were common in the mid 2001-2004 GTs, 2003-2004 Mach 1, most 2001 Cobras, and 2001 Bullitts

The 2005-2010 TR-3650 Manual Transmissions

The TR-3650s are an upgrade from the previous Mid 2001-2004 TR-3650's. Changes like different tail housings, shifter locations, larger internal gears, and overall different transmission length were some to name. The TR-3650 can handle up to 390 lb-fts of torque with the same firm shifting from the previous TR-3650s.

  • 120 lbs dry weight
  • Electronic Speedo
  • 0.67 overdrive
  • The TR-3650 takes 3.2 quarts of fluid. Recommend: Red Line MT-90, or Royal Purple Syncromax
  • This Tremec TR-3650 came in the 2005-2010 Mustang GTs and the 2008 Bullitt


2011+ Getrag-Ford MT-82 Transmission

The MT-82s are made by Getrag-Ford and are made overseas in China. The MT-82s are featured in 2011 to current GT and V6 Mustangs.

The transmission is a full synchronizer manual transmission with six forward speeds and one reverse speed. MT-82s also incorporated a three-cone synchronizer assembly for 1st & 2nd gears, and a dual synchronizer assembly for 3rd & 4th gears. This increased ease of operation and the lifespan of the synchronizers.

  • 550 lb-ft. of torque capacity
  • 135 lbs dry weight
  • Electronic Speedo
  • Full synchronizer trans
  • Enhanced shifting and improved durability
  • Exceptional fuel savings; 0.65 overdrive
  • The MT-82 takes 2.7 quarts of fluid

The 2007 - 2014 GT500 TR-6060 Manual Transmission

The TREMEC TR-6060 six-speed manual transmission is a high-performance oriented machine. Hence, why it's found in the Shelby GT500. The TR-6060 has short throws from the factory and utilizes a combination of double-cone and triple-cone synchronizers on all gears. The TR-6060's internals aim to reduce horsepower sapping friction with anti-friction ball struts, fine-pitch splines, and a spring-loaded anti-friction roller. The broached forward and reverse detent grooves on the mainshaft keeps shifts smooth and easy. The internal gears themselves are actually a two-piece design with machined clutch teeth, so you know you're shifts will be precise. 

  • Can handle 650 lb-fts of torque
  • 143 lbs dry weight
  • Electronic Speedo
  • Built for high horsepower builds without much available space
  • 0.68 overdrive
  • Hybrid and sintered bronze double and triple-cone synchronizers
  • The TR-6060 takes 3.65 quarts of fluid. Recommend: Red Line MT-90, or Royal Purple Syncromax

Tremec TKO 500 / 600 Manual Transmissions

Tremec's 500 and 600 TKO manual transmission arguably have the reputation they do because of the 5.0 Mustang. The 500 can handle 500 ft-lbs of torque whereas the 600 can handle 600 ft-lbs of torque. The two different transmissions have two different sets of gear ratios. The TKO trans is also compatible with mechanical and electronic speedometer pickups.

  • Up to 600 lb-ft. of torque capacity
  • 99 lbs dry weight
  • Both mechanical & electronic speedo pick-ups
  • 3-rail internal shift mechanism for decisive shifts
  • Tremec's most commonly used 5-speed
  • The 500 is offered with two input and output splice counts (10, 31 & 26, 31)
  • The 500 has the following gear ratios: 1st - 3.27, 2nd - 1.98, 3rd - 1.34, 4th - 1.00, 5th - .68. Reverse is 3.00
  • The 600 has an input/output of 26/31, and has the following gear ratios: 1st - 2.87, 2nd - 1.89, 3rd - 1.28, 4th - 1.00, 5th - .82 (or .64)
  • Neither the TKO 500 or 600 were OEM in the Mustang
  • Designed for hard track use
  • Both transmissions take 3 quarts of fluid. Recommended: MT-90 from Red Line or Royal Purple Syncromax

1987-1998 Mustangs: T5 & T45 Transmission Speed Sensors

Between these two transmissions, Ford used two different speed sensors. But which Mustangs have which sensor?

To start with, 1987-1995 had the T5 transmission. The 1996-1998 had the T45 transmission.

The 1987-1993 models share the same speed sensor, and the 1994-1998 Mustangs have the same speed sensor.

Fitment includes: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, GT, V6, Cobra, ShelbyGT500, Mach1, Bullitt, Boss, LX, SVO, EcoBoost, ShelbyGT350