There are only a handful of American car companies that are as iconic or as well-known as Chevrolet, or how most would like to call them, Chevy. However, while the vast majority out there associate this classically homegrown Detroit brand with cars, we‚Äôd sometimes forget they‚Äôre a maker of engines, as well. Hence, why do some wonder as to how one can perform a Chevy engine serial number lookup?
It‚Äôs a much bigger deal than it might seem. For starters, Chevy builds a tonne of engines that can suit all manner of movable transportation. These days, Chevy‚Äôs pop culture status among car enthusiasts has recognized their contribution to creating some of the best crate engines out there. When has an LS swap ever gone out of fashion? Everybody loves a hearty, throaty V8, with ample grunt to spare.
Yet, Chevy also makes robust SUV and truck engines that could, at times, outlast its owner, let alone putting 1,000,000+ problem-free miles on the clock. I‚Äôve just learned that Chevy even makes engines for boats and other watercraft. With such a wide-range and abundant variety of powerplants made throughout all of Chevy‚Äôs long history, how can you undertake a Chevy engine serial number lookup?
- What Is A Serial Number?
- Why Does It Matter?
- What Is Chevy‚Äôs ESN?
- Where To Find It?
- How To Decode It?
- What About The Suffix?
- Some Examples
- CE Code Serial Numbers
- What About Block Casting?
- Final Thoughts
What Is An Engine Serial Number, Anyway?
I‚Äôm sure most of you have heard of a VIN before, right? Otherwise known as a ‚ÄėVehicle Identification Number‚Äė, a VIN is sort of your car‚Äôs birth certificate. It‚Äôs a valid stamp of approval signifying that this particular car was created, and is permitted to drive on public roads. The VIN is a 17-digit scrambled code that includes details of how, where, and when your car was built, among other information.
It‚Äôs a good way to track your car down or certify that it‚Äôs legitimate. Or, perhaps even use it as some proof of ownership, alongside your car‚Äôs title and registration papers. Using that analogy, an ‚Äėengine serial number‚Äô, or just ‚Äėengine number‚Äô to some, is similar to how a VIN works. Your car‚Äôs ESN (engine serial number) is a more detailed identification system, but just for your engine, and nothing else.
Unlike a VIN, which mostly inscribes a car‚Äôs construction and a few highlights on its specifications, an ESN can expand upon that. Typically, engine serial numbers could entertain their configuration. For example, using the letters and numbers in your ESN, you could figure out if it‚Äôs turbocharged or naturally aspirated. Or, perhaps discern as to what model year or generation of engine it belongs to.
In some cars, you can even determine how my cylinders it has, the displacement, additional features, and so on. Just like a VIN, mind you, engine serial numbers are commonly used to learn more about the how, when, and where it was produced. Note, that the ‚Äėengine number‚Äô is specific to the engine block, and it‚Äôs different from the ‚Äėchassis number‚Äô. The latter is reserved for your car‚Äôs frame.
Why Does It Matter?
For what I assume to be 95% of your ownership period of a car, you‚Äôre likely to never care or have to worry about needing a Chevy engine serial number lookup. The ESN is one of those things that gets buried under a mountain of other things that you have to worry about in a car. Plus, you‚Äôre never going to be prompted about the engine number with most circumstances. So, why bother with it?
Ah, but it‚Äôs that 5% of the time where you‚Äôll be tearing your hair out trying to remember what its ESN was. While it may be trivial most of the time, it can come in handy for those few, specific occasions. That‚Äôs because running a Chevy engine serial number lookup yields some benefits, such as:
- Being able to identify if a car you‚Äôre planning to buy was stolen, or had stolen components, such as an engine lifted from an as-of-yet unrecovered vehicle.
- Allows the authorities another avenue to identify your car, and increase its chances of recovery if it‚Äôs been stolen. Or at least, help them prosecute the thieves.
- Enabling you to know if your engine is a part of a recall campaign by the manufacturer since they‚Äôre privy to using the ESN to determine which vehicles in a production batch are affected.
- Understanding the configuration of the engine and its components, which is useful for tracking down compatible spare parts, either for repairs or modifications.
- Making maintenance easier, as technicians and mechanics can easily run your ESN through say, a Chevy engine serial number lookup tool, and know what needs to be done.
- In some cases, you could use the ESN to know if the engine‚Äôs gone through serious water or flood damage, or maybe if it‚Äôs been totaled and written off before.
What Is A Chevy Engine Serial Number?
When you buy any vehicle, be it a muscle car or a boat, fitted with a Chevy engine, it‚Äôll come with an ESN distinct to Chevrolet. Unlike VIN, which follows a standardized 17-digit pattern, engine numbers are unique to each manufacturer. In the case of Chevrolet, its engines have a 7 to 8-digit serial code stamped onto the engine block. This is then recorded onto Chevrolet‚Äôs own engine block registry.
Note, that the ‚Äėengine serial number‚Äô (or ‚Äėengine ID‚Äô) in this case shouldn‚Äôt be confused with ‚Äėcasting number‚Äô. The latter is a unique production number that‚Äôs imprinted directly onto the engine block as the solid block itself was being cast. The casting number can inform us of a few key details about the engine. These include the cylinder count, displacement, model year, production year, and so forth.
Meanwhile, an engine serial number is stamped onto a machined pad once the engine has been fully assembled. This 7 to 8-character registration, as we noted earlier, contains both a prefix and a suffix order, respectively. The prefix pertains to information regarding the assembly. On the other hand, its suffix will contain data, once decoded with a Chevy engine serial number lookup tool, on its specs.
These may include, for example, horsepower figures, engine displacement, or the make and model of the vehicle that it‚Äôs powering. In that regard, the ‚Äėcasting number‚Äô and ‚Äėengine serial number‚Äô aren‚Äôt all too different from one another. On most Chevy engines, they‚Äôll only have the engine ID on there, but since the late 1960s and later, you‚Äôd also find the partial VIN stamped alongside it, as well.
Where Can You Find Your Chevy Engine Serial Number?
Before you can figure out how to go through a Chevy engine serial number lookup, you‚Äôll first have to figure out what your engine ID is. The simplest way to go about this is by looking through your car‚Äôs registration and title. In addition, you may also use VIN lookup tools, and input your car‚Äôs VIN instead to let it spell out the engine serial number for you. Otherwise, you‚Äôll have to look for it manually.
Quite simply, an engine serial number for your Chevy can be found on the engine itself. Based on the configuration of your engine, however, this may be harder or easier than it seems. Here‚Äôs where you can start looking, depending on what Chevy engine you have:
- Small Block V8 ‚Äď Adjacent to the engine‚Äôs cylinder heads on the passenger side of the vehicle, and sits closer to the front of the core engine block. Look closer, as the alternator might block the engine ID, which is often stamped onto a metal plate.
- Big Block V8 ‚Äď Much easier to find this time, as the Chevy engine serial number is stamped onto the covering over the timing chain. Although, some of them may place the engine ID in a similar position to small-block V8s, as we pointed out earlier.
- V6 (And Others) ‚Äď Located either on or behind the distributor, which can be found by the passenger side of the vehicle. Note, the engine ID and casting number may sometimes be located next to one another.
How Can You Decode A Chevy Engine Serial Number?
Here‚Äôs one example that we‚Äôll feed into a Chevy engine serial number lookup registry: V1015CKX
First, let‚Äôs explain more about that prefix and suffix system we mentioned earlier. The prefix comes first in the engine ID and contains 5 digits relating to its production. On the flip side, the suffix caps off an engine ID with either 2 to 3 digits, detailing some noteworthy specifications of the engine. We could split it apart into its constituent alphanumeric components, and this is what you‚Äôll get‚Ä¶
- V ‚Äď The production plant the engine was built and assembled in.
- 10 ‚Äď Month of when the engine was put together (October).
- 15 ‚Äď Day of when this Chevy engine was assembled (15th).
- CKX ‚Äď Engine belongs to either a 1972 Corvette, 1973 Camaro, or a 1976 Corvette. All of which have a 350 cubic-inch displacement engine, with 200hp, 145hp, and 180hp, respectively.
As you can see, running your engine ID through a Chevy engine serial number lookup should be fairly straightforward. The middle 4 digits denote the date the engine was built, with its month and day of production. The first character is used to determine which assembly plant built that engine. Here‚Äôs a quick list of the engine plants where your motor may have been built at:
- F ‚Äď Flint (Chevrolet)
- H ‚Äď Hydramatic
- K ‚Äď St. Catherines, Ontario (McKinnon Industries, Canada)
- M ‚Äď General Motors of Mexico (Hecho en Mexico)
- S ‚Äď Saginaw Service
- T ‚Äď Tonawanda
- V ‚Äď Flint (Pontiac and GMC)
What About The Suffix In A Chevy Engine Serial Number Lookup?
Now, it‚Äôs worth explaining that the prefix is the simplest part of a Chevy engine serial number lookup. The suffix is where it gets tricky, as it can vary across thousands of variations throughout Chevrolet‚Äôs history. There are even times when, as we demonstrated, a single suffix could be used on more than a single make or model, spanning several model years. It‚Äôs hard to find a complete catalog.
However, there are plentiful sources online, such as NastyZ28.com, which has compiled together with the most thorough list of Chevy engine serial numbers. In short, their registry contains most of the 2 or 3-digit suffix, to vehicles as late as 1991. They‚Äôve also gone ahead and sorted them for either small- or big-block V8 engines. To make things easier, they‚Äôve also split these suffixes into separate pages.
Here are some quick links to direct you to those sources. All you need to do is pick a page where your suffix might appear in. For example, our previous example (CKX) can be found within the ‚ÄėCE ‚Äď CMJ‚Äô page, corresponding alphabetically‚Ä¶
Chevy Engine Serial Number Lookup, Small Block V8s
- 3N ‚Äď CDR
- CE ‚Äď CMJ
- CMK ‚Äď CUD
- CUF ‚Äď DTM
- DTR ‚Äď HQ
- HR ‚Äď TBS
- TBT ‚Äď TJS
- TJT ‚Äď TXB
- TXC ‚Äď UTT
- UTU ‚Äď ZY
Chevy Engine Serial Number Lookup, Big Block V8s
Click on any one of those menus, and you‚Äôll find information concerning the:
- Model year
- Cubic-inch displacement (CID)
- Application (contains details around the powertrain, such as whether it has carburetors or fuel injection, type of fuel used, type and variation of transmission, and so on)
- Engine VIN (this is to specify the generation of engine it belongs to)
- Horsepower output
- BBL (barrels, otherwise how many barrels within the carburetor it has or might denote if it‚Äôs fuel-injected instead with TBI for ‚Äėthrottle body injection‚Äė or TPI for ‚Äėtuned port injection‚Äô)
- Vehicle it was fitted on (the model name, and it might also include comments on what type of vehicle it may have alternatively been powered by it)
What Are Some Examples Of Chevy Engine Serial Number Lookups?
Just to help you get in tune with grasping how to decode a Chevy engine serial number lookup result, we‚Äôve prepared some examples. These are based on sample engine IDs from Chevys that we‚Äôve pulled from the web, and let‚Äôs see what we can learn from them:
- K ‚Äď Assembled at GM‚Äôs engine plant in St. Catherines, Ontario.
- 0616 ‚Äď Production or model year is June 16th.
- DE ‚Äď Fitted on a 1958 Malibu (283 cubic-inch), or is either a 1962 AX (283 cubic-inch) or 1968 AFX-series (307 cubic-inch) engine.
- T ‚Äď Produced at GM‚Äôs Tonawanda engine plant.
- 0922 ‚Äď Engine‚Äôs production or model year is September 22nd.
- CTW ‚Äď It was either a 1975 B-series (400 cubic-inch) or 1978 G-series (305 cubic-inch) engine.
- F ‚Äď Put together at GM‚Äôs Flint engine assembly plant.
- 0604 ‚Äď The date it was built was June 4th.
- RF ‚Äď Installed on a 1962 Corvette (327 cubic-inch, 360 horsepower, manual transmission, fuel injection)
- F ‚Äď Built at GM‚Äôs Flint engine plant.
- 0326 ‚Äď The engine was born on March 26th.
- EC ‚Äď Was originally a 1957 B-series (283 cubic-inch) engine, or found fitted on either a 1965 Chevelle (327 cubic-inch), or a 1966 Chevelle (also 327 cubic-inch).
- S ‚Äď Built at GM‚Äôs Saginaw Service plant.
- 1029 ‚Äď This engine was bolted together on October 29th.
- CTY ‚Äď It was a 1976 B-series engine (400 cubic-inch, with 175hp under the LT4 family of motors)
Remember that as you‚Äôre trying to figure out the Chevy engine serial number, some models will have a partial VIN stamped next to the engine ID. This partial VIN is, as the name suggests, not the entire sequence. Nonetheless, it still carries important data, most likely concerning the engine‚Äôs production. It may tell you who built the engine, at what year, through which plant, and its batch information.
What About Chevy Engine Serial Number Lookups For CE Codes?
Chevy engine serial number lookup should only concern you with the aforementioned format we‚Äôve discussed thus far. However, you might also find many engines with an ID starting with ‚ÄėCE‚Äô. If we‚Äôd have to give you an example, it would appear something like ‚ÄėCE067997‚Äô. The term ‚ÄėCE‚Äô can also be referred to as ‚ÄėChevrolet Engine‚Äô. Although, it might also be stamped on replacement engines.
‚ÄėCE‚Äô can otherwise be translated as ‚Äėcounter engine‚Äô, ‚Äėcounter exchange‚Äô, or ‚Äėcrate engine‚Äô. All three of which used to be considered warranty replacement motors. Let‚Äôs say a particular owner had some difficulties with their engine and needed heavy repairs. Should the block be replaced with a completely new unit with a warranty, a stamp would be placed showing ‚ÄėCE‚Äô, followed by a 6-digit serial number.
This CE serial number system started in 1968, and each serial is specially generated to display what engine that car came with originally. Unfortunately, this CE-type code uses a generic sequencing for stamping the engines. In other words, you can‚Äôt easily decode these serial numbers without having to go through Chevy‚Äôs own engine registry. If they‚Äôd run out of numbers, the letter ‚ÄėA‚Äô is added.
Therefore, the following rollover in the registry would use the serial number (following our example earlier), ‚ÄėCE0A67997‚Äô. With or without the A, the specific engine ID would be the 6 digits after CE. In this case, that would be ‚Äė067997‚Äô. The first one, ‚Äė0‚Äô would show off what year it was assembled in, as ‚Äė67997‚Äô is its serial number. It would contain all the necessary details that we‚Äôve gone through so far.
What About Chevy‚Äôs Engine Block Casting?
Much, much earlier, we made mentions of ‚Äėblock casting‚Äô. While it shouldn‚Äôt be confused with engine serial numbers, block casting is a great source of supplementary information around an engine. They can help out with providing additional details that Chevy engine serial number lookup might miss out on. Just like engine ID, block casting numbers are alphanumeric and found in similar locations.
There are two separate casting-related markings that you need to be wary of. The first is the block casting date, which can inform you of when the engine block was cast. They‚Äôre either a 4 to 5 digit code, with the first letter showing you the month. It‚Äôs then followed by one to two digits for the day, and another one to two digits for the year. One example would be: A1160
That would translate to a date of January (A), the 11th day of the month, in the year 1960. When it comes to the month:
- A ‚Äď January
- B ‚Äď February
- C ‚Äď March
- D ‚Äď April
- E ‚Äď May
- F ‚Äď June
- G ‚Äď July
- H ‚Äď August
- I ‚Äď September
- J ‚Äď October
- K ‚Äď November
- L ‚Äď December
Elsewhere, the block casting date will be accompanied by a sequenced casting number. Given all the millions of small- and big-block V8s made by Chevy over the years, the list of casting numbers is far too long to divulge here. Thankfully, sources such as outintheshop.com have a nearly complete list. It also expands that list for IDs on your crankshaft, engine head, intake manifolds, and other parts.
Well, that just about does it for this guide for how to perform a Chevy engine serial number lookup. Is this really a thing that you should be concerned about? Most would likely not have to, since every new Chevy car follows a different standard in registering its engine serial codes. That said, and if you own a 1991 or earlier classic Chevrolet, it might prove quite useful for you to have on hand.
In all, the only thing you need to worry about is that 7 to 8 digit engine serial number, which can be found stamped on a plate onto the engine block. Once you have that, you can decode it to determine the location and date it was assembled on. In addition, that 2 to 3 digit suffix is more than enough to let you in on that particular engine‚Äôs specifications, such as its displacement or horsepower output.
There is an abundance of sources online that have tirelessly cataloged every Chevy engine serial number lookup there is, which you can use as a reference. On top of that, you could also scour about to find your Chevy‚Äôs engine block casting number. While not as descriptive as the serial number itself, the block casting info can narrow your search down to precisely what engine you‚Äôre working on.
Let‚Äôs remind ourselves that the suffix on the engine‚Äôs serial number may be repeated and reused for several different models at one time. Thus, you can pair the block casting number to determine if this engine here is one made for a Camaro or a very similar Corvette. From there, you‚Äôll be well-equipped to find spare parts or would merely want to prove the authenticity of your oh-so-rare old Chevy.
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.