The VW Part Numbering System Explained
Well it might surprise you to learn that VW actually had a “plan” when they created their part numbering system. With a little background information, you too will be able to dissect a VW part number and have a good idea what vehicle the part is for and what the part’s application is.VW part numbers are often stamped or imprinted into the metal, plastic, or rubber of the product itself, so don’t toss your old or worn VW part until you’ve had a look for it’s VW part number. If you know the VW, OEM, or manufacturer’s part number, entering it as a keyword in the search box on is one of the quickest and easiest ways to find it in our online VW parts catalog. Even if the results of your search don’t include the part you are seeking, there is still a good chance we have it, or are able to get it, so please ask!
The following diagram shows the “Anatomy of a VW Part Number”:
There were some exceptions to this part numbering format, but the generalizations below can be relied upon in most instances:
VW part numbers are composed of nine (9) digits. Most of the time, VW part numbers contain hyphens to separate 3 digit number groups.
The first 2, and sometimes 3, digits relate to the VW Type and Model and/or Version of vehicle that the part was originally* manufactured for. (*Parts originally manufactured for one vehicle were often subsequently used as standard equipment, or replacement parts, on another Model and/or Type vehicle.)
TYPE 1 Model Numbers:
11 = Standard Beetle
13 = Super Beetle
14 = Ghia
15 = Beetle or Super Cabriolet/Convertible
18 = Thing
TYPE 2 Model Numbers:
21 = Van
22 = Microbus
23 = Kombi
24 = Panel Van/Samba
26 = Pickup
27 = Ambulance
TYPE 3 Model Numbers:
311 = Fastback
315 = Notchback
361 = Squareback
The 4th digit in the nine digit series corresponds to a Main Group Part Category. The Main Group Part Categories are as follows:
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
The 5th and 6th digits indicate the Part SubGroup (an itemized listing of Part SubGroups is not available at this time).
Digits 7, 8, & 9 combined are an arbitrarily assigned Component Number. Digit #9 can also be an indication of what SIDE the part is for, if the part is side specific. Even is RIGHT side, odd is LEFT side.
9 digit VW Part numbers are sometimes followed by letter combinations (a Modification Code) that indicate options or modifications for that part (i.e. parts that come in different colors or sizes). For example, a certain part # may be superceded by a newer (better) version of that part, so it ends in a suffix “A” for the improved part. further improvements result in a “B”, “C”, etc. All these parts fit the designated application, but the suffix tells you what “generation” the part is.
Let’s look at a few examples to clarify your new understanding of the VW numbering system.
Part number 113-301-263C was first used in a Type 1 (in this case, Beetle Sedan and Convertible). The “301” designates this as a transmission part. The “263” is the component number, and the “C” (in this case) means it’s a 4th generation improvement of this part (“A” would have been the first improvement). This particular part is a rear transmission mount for 1973 1/2 and newer Beetles and Super Beetles.
Another example: 111-109-301 A is a 36HP cam follower (lifter and pushrod were one piece in 36 HP engines), while 113-109-301D is the pushrod for a 40hp engine, and 311-109-301A is the pushrod for 1966-1979 Beetle engines. The 311 designation is used because the 1300/1500/1600 engine was FIRST used in the Type 3 model VWs, even though it ended up being most recognized as a part that could be used in Beetles.
To further complicate matters, you will sometimes encounter part numbers that SEEM to be VW part numbers but that stray from the formula above. That is because many aftermarket parts suppliers and manufacturers BASED their part numbering systems on the official VW part numbering system, but their system has diverged and does not always follow the VW numbering system EXACTLY. West Coast Metric, for example, completely omits the 4th, 5th, and 6th digits from their part numbers (we assume to avoid being redundant, since most of their parts would be in the Main Group Part Category “8” for Body Parts). Then, on top of everything else some part numbers were created after the fact by those aftermarket companies for aftermarket products. Since VW never offered the part in that form, there never was a “true” VW part number for the item: The aftermarket number was just generated to follow the same pattern as the rest of the parts in the line! This has created a scenario over the years where different suppliers or manufacturers tag a certain part with a different number. So, in some cases, despite part numbers looking like they MIGHT be based on a VW part number, one part may have two or more different part numbers depending what company is listing it, and it may never have had an official VW part number to begin with!
Our VW Parts Catalog keyword search function has been carefully designed to allow you to search using both original VW part numbers, and manufacturer specific part numbers so that you can easily find what you are looking for. And, of course, we are always happy to assist you if there is any item that you can’t find. Just email or let us know via live chat, and we’ll be happy to send you a direct link or get the product added to our catalog for you!
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