How to Read Volkswagen Part Numbers

How to Read Volkswagen Part Numbers

Written by the JK Team
Published 19 April 2024
Just Kampers

If you’ve been around Volkswagens for a while you’ll no doubt have seen a VW part number, sometimes called an OEM part number, but what do they mean?

We’ve put together this quick guide to help you understand VW part numbers, and learn how to read them.

What are Volkswagen part numbers?

Once you notice them, you’ll start seeing these VW OEM part numbers all over the place.

For example, we use them here on the Just Kampers website, where they’re listed as an OEM PART NUMBER on essential components to help you ensure that you’re ordering the right part for your VW.

Here's an example of a part on the Just Kampers website with an OEM Part Number listedHere's an example of a part on the Just Kampers website with an OEM Part Number listed
Here's an example of a part on the Just Kampers website with an OEM Part Number listed

This can be really helpful as VW part numbers are written out as a code which tells you exactly what the part is and what vehicle it’s for.

Once you understand how they work, they’re actually pretty logical and simple to understand. Mostly.

Several members of the JK Team, like Mark Reynolds who set up Just Kampers back in 1989, can read as VW part number as easily as you’re reading this, but it definitely takes practice!

How do you read a Volkswagen part number?

Generally speaking, all VW part numbers follow the same format. There will usually be a total of nine digits, divided by hyphens into three groups of three digits.

This means they all look roughly like this:

XXX-XXX-XXX

The first digit tells you the Type of vehicle that the part is for.

The next two digits give you the Model or Version of vehicle.

The fourth digit tells you the Main Group Part Category, and the following two digits tell you the Subcategory.

The final three characters are the Component Number.

Some VW Part Numbers will have additional characters at the end which give you the Modification Code, although this isn’t always present.

Type digits

As we mentioned above, the first digit in a VW part number tells you what type of vehicle the part is for.

XXX-XXX-XXX

The numbers most relevant to the vehicles we stock parts and accessories for here at Just Kampers are:

1:  Beetle
2:  Bus
3:  Type 3
4:  Type 4
7:  Transporter

The Beetle category includes other Volkswagens based on the Beetle, including the Karmann Ghia, Fridolin, Trekker, and others.

The Bus category includes the T2 Split, T2 Bay, and T25.

The Type 3 category includes the Notchback, Squareback, Fastback, and Type 34 Ghia.

The Type 4 category covers the rarely-seen VW 411 and 412.

The Transporter category covers the T4, T5, and T6.

Armed with this knowledge, you can now tell at a glance what group of VWs a part belongs to, just by looking at the OEM number.

A VW number starting 1XX-XXX-XXX will be for a Beetle, while one starting 7XX-XXX-XXX will be for a Transporter.

 

Model digits

Following on from the type digit at the start of each VW part number, the model digits are the second and third digits in the code.

XXX-XXX-XXX

These tell you which type of vehicle they’re for, as below:

Beetle model digits:
1:  Standard Beetle
3:  Super Beetle
4:  Ghia
5:  Cabriolet
8:  Trekker

Bus model digits:
1: Van
2: Microbus
3: Kombi
4: Panel Van/Samba
6: Pickup
7: Ambulance

Because these numbers follow on from the first digit, a part for a Karmann Ghia would start 14 (1 being the type digit, and 4 being the model digit), while a part for a T2 Bay Pickup would start 26 (2 from the type digit, and 6 from the model digit).

This second digit is usually followed by a 1, unless it’s a part which is specific to either left-hand drive or right-hand drive models, in which case an odd number will show that the part is for left-hand drive vehicles, while an even number will show that it’s for right-hand drive vehicles.

Therefore, a part starting 152- would be for a right-hand drive VW Beetle Cabriolet, with 1 as the type number to show that it’s a Beetle part, 5 as the model digit to show that it’s for a Cabriolet, and 2 as an even number to indicate that it’s a part for a right-hand drive vehicle.

 

Main part category digits

The fourth digit in a Volkswagen part number tells you which main parts category the item belongs to.

XXX-XXX-XXX

Since this is represented by only one digit, there are ten possible options:

0:  Accessories
1:  Engine
2:  Fuel, Exhaust and Heating System
3:  Transmission
4:  Front End
5:  Rear Axle
6:  Wheels and Brakes
7:  Bumpers, Levers, Pedals
8:  Body
9:  Electrical 

So far so good, right? With everything we’ve learned so far, we can see that a VW part number which starts 141-1 is an engine part for a VW Beetle, for example.

 

Part sub-category digits

This is where things get a more complicated – or at least, harder to memorise!

The fifth and sixth digits in a VW part number tell you which subcategory the part belongs to, in relation to the main category.

XXX-XXX-XXX

Since the subcategory uses two digits, there can be up to 100 different options (00 through to 99).

For example, on VW Beetle engine parts, which have a main category digit of 1 (as shown above), the sub-categories are:

01: Crankcase, cylinders, cylinder head
05: Crankshaft, connecting rods, crankshaft bearings
07: Piston
09: Camshaft, valves
15: Oil pump, oil filler
17: Oil cooler
19: Air cooling, cover plates
27: Fuel pump, fuel lines
29: Carburettors
41: Clutch
42: Automatic clutch (Saxomat)

Using everything we’ve learned so far, we can see that the first six digits of the VW Number for a fuel pump on a VW Beetle would be 111-127.

Each main category will have its own set of subcategories, based on the type and model of the vehicle.

There is one subgroup digit which is always the same though: 96 always refers to a repair kit.

 

Component digits

The final three digits in a nine-digit Volkswagen part number are the component digits, which is the number given to the actual part itself.

XXX-XXX-XXX

Because this number is made up of three digits, there are 1,000 potential combinations (000 through to 999), so we definitely won’t be listing them all here.

As we’ve seen before, there are some rules to help make identifying the part a bit quicker. For example, If the part can be used on both the nearside (left) and offside (right), the last digit is an odd number.

If the nearside and offside versions of the part are different (like on side mirrors) the last digit will be odd for nearside or even for offside.  

 

Modification code digits

These aren’t always present in all VW part numbers, because they show that the part identified by the part number is modified and has therefore changed in some way from the original part when production began.

XXX-XXX-XXX/X

The modification code is a letter which follows on from the 9 digits which make up the main body of the VW part number.

They might be added because the design of the part may have changed, or the material, or the supplier.

Different letters are used with different meanings, but X always indicates that the part has been remanufactured to the original specifications, and that the original part will need to be returned as ‘core’ to be remanufactured for the next unit.

 

A Quick Summary

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and now have a better idea of what different VW part numbers mean when you come across them out in the wild.

Whether you spot them here on the Just Kampers website, or on a label at a swapmeet, you’ve hopefully got a better idea of what OEM numbers mean now!

2 months ago