VW’s Parts numbering system.

A quick guide to deciphering VW’s parts numbering system.

Ever wonder how when you give a part number to the parts guy where you buy your spares that he manages to know roughly what it is? Yes, some parts guys have been doing this for years and they do actually remember part numbers no matter how long they are, or some can quickly deciper the sting of numbers and letters quickly in their head, here’s how.

Below is a diagram of a breakdown of a part number and what the groups of letters and numbers denote.


You will notice that when you see the numbers printed on parts, listed in VW’s parts programme “ETKA” or found on websites that they are usually displayed in groups of 3 characters. Theres a good reason for this, not only does it make it easier to read but the batches are related.

The first batch of characters give you the vehicle the part is fitted to, they are abbreviated versions of the VW models codes. When the part is a component of an engine or a gearbox then this batch gives you the engine or gearbox type.

The second batch give you the area on the vehicle the component is fitted, the first character of the second batch is the “Main Group” such as engine, suspension, body etc then the 2nd and 3rd characters are the sub group.

The third batch is then the sequential number, these numbers cannot be deciphered nor do they mean anything.

So, as vehicle productions takes place then issues with parts start to happen and the part will get modified or replaced, these changes are noted with a letter after the 9 characters of the part number for example..

025 121 321 [025 is a water boxer engine component, 1 is the engine main group and 21 is the cooling sub croup] is a header tank cap, over the years this product has changed as technology has moved on and the original part has been superceeded and modified first to 025 121 321 A, this part was made obsolete and superceeded with 025 121 321 B.

There is another batch of numbers not listed above and it’s another batch of 3 again and this is a colour code for items such as trim where physically the shape is the same but there is a choice of colour you would see “01C” for black items, “90V” for saddle brown items. All this information is stored within VW’s parts programme “ETKA”

Here follows some codes that are relevent to T3 models.

Model codes.
245 LHD single cab
246 RHD single cab
247 LHD double cab
248 RHD double cab
251 LHD panel van
252 RHD panel van
253 LHD Kombi
254 RHD Kombi
255 LHD Caravelle
256 RHD Caravelle
Engine codes
025 1.9l, 2.1l WBX
028 1.9D, 1.9TD, 1.9TDI
033 1.7D “KY”
068 1.6D “CS”, 1.6TD “JX”

yes, we know t3’s werent fitted with 028 series engines from the factory but we just thought it prudent to add it in as it is such a popular series of engines that are installed in t3’s

Now for the Main Group and Sub Groups.
Main group Sub group  
1 00 Base engines
1 01 Crankcase, Cylinder head
1 03 Cylinder block with pistons, oil sump, Ventilation for cylinder head cover
1 05 Crankshaft, flywheel, con-rod
1 07 Piston, piston rings
1 09 Camshaft, valves, timing belt
1 15 Oil pump, oil filter support, dipstick, oil cooler
1 17 Oil cooler [air cooled]
1 19 Air cooling, tinware
1 21 Cooling system
1 27 Fuel pump, fuel filter
1 29 Carburettor, air filter, intake system, vacuum system
1 30 Injection pump, injectors, pressure pipes
1 33 Intake system, vacuum system
1 41 Clutch
1 45 Vacuum pump, hydraulic pump, turbo charger
1 98 Repair kits
1 99 Engine carrier and mounts
Fuel tank, fuel lines, exhaust and heater
Main group Sub group  
2 01 Fuel tank, filler, expansion tanks, pump and filter
2 51 Exhaust system
2 55 Heater, heat exchanger
2 59 Fresh air and heater
2 60 Air conditioning
2 61 Auxiliary heater [petrol]
2 65 Rear heater
2 72 Auxiliary heater [diesel]
2 98 Repair kits
Main group Sub group  
3 00 Gearbox – complete
3 01 Transmission case
3 11 Shafts and gears, shift rods, selector forks
3 21 Automatic planetary gear, turbine shaft
3 23 Forward and reverse gears and torque converter [automatic]
3 25 Valve body and strainer
3 99 Transmission securing parts
3 98 Repair kits
Front axle
Main group Sub group  
4 07 Front suspension, front hub
4 11 Springs, dampers and anti roll bar
4 19 Steering column, steering rack and pas hydraulics
4 22 Power steering
4 98 Repair kits
Rear axle
Main group Sub group  
5 01 Trailing arm
5 07 Final drive housing – auto
5 11 Springs, dampers and anti roll bar
5 17 Final drive and differential – manual
5 19 Final drive and differential – auto
5 98 Repair kits
Wheels and brakes
Main group Sub group  
6 01 Road wheels
6 09 Rear brake shoes, drums, cables and backplates
6 11 Brake hydraulics
6 12 Brake servo
6 15 Brake callipers
6 98 Repair kits
Hand and foot levers, safety covers
Main group Sub group  
7 11 Gear linkage
7 11 Handbrake
7 11 Cold start cable
7 13 Shift mechanism – auto
7 21 Accelerator pedal and cable , brake and clutch pedal cluster.
7 23 Accelerator cable – automatic.
8 01 Pedal plate, floor plate, wheel housing, front boot floor plate, floor plate, seat box, side and cross members, spare wheel mounting.
8 03 Floor assembly
8 05 Front panel, rear panel, deformation element, dashboard.
8 07 Bumpers and spoilers.
8 09 A and b pillars, knee pieces. Outer and inner panels
8 13 Rear panel lower part, corner panel, splash plates and shields, inspection cover
8 17 Roof, roof air vents, sunroof
8 19 Heating and ventilation vents
8 21 Automatic step, mud flaps
8 27 Tailgate
8 29 Drop sides, enlarged wooden platform, locker lid, rear lid [pick up models]
8 31 Drivers and passenger doors.
8 37 Front door locks, opening ¼ light parts, window lifter [inc elec.], window seals
8 41 Crew cab door
8 43 Sliding door, sliding door parts, cover for sliding door hinge.
8 45 Glazing and seals.
8 47 Sliding windows in body, side door and partition.
8 53 Mouldings and trims, window guard rails, grills, badges and emblems.
8 57 Dashboard fittings, ashtray. Rear view mirrors, sun visors, grab handles, seatbelts,
8 59 Interior equipment for ambulance.
8 60 Black out covers, weapon holders, flag sockets, net partion lining
8 61 Table, folding table, front bench seat.
8 62 Curtains, mosquito net, central locking system.
8 63 Floor coverings and insulation, partitions., engine under tray [diesel]
8 67 Trim panels, door handles, folding cover for boot.
8 71 Frame with canopy [pick up]
8 77 Steel sliding roof and parts, glass sun roof.
8 81 Front seats.
8 83 Seats in passenger compartment [middle row]
8 85 Seats in passenger compartment [back row]
8 87 Folding seats.
8 98 Repair kits
Electrical systems
Main group Sub group  
9 03 Alternators, alternator parts, mountings and v-belts.
9 05 Ignition system.
9 06 Lambda probe.
9 07 Cruise control system
9 11 Starter motors, starter motor components.
9 15 Battery and battery mountings.
9 19 Instruments and associated switches and sensors, cigarette lighter.
9 27 ABS system.
9 37 Fuses and relays for air con.
9 41 Central electrics [fuse box] relays, lighting, light switches.
9 43 Number plate lamps.
9 45 Rear lights and associated switches.
9 47 Interior lights and switches
9 51 Horn
9 53 Column switches, wipers, dip/main switch, indicators. Front indicators.
9 55 Wash wipe system
9 57 Speedo, speedo cable, Tachograph
9 59 Heater fan switch, air con switches, electric fans
9 63 Heated seats
9 65 Auxiliary water pump
9 71 Wiring harnesses
9 98 Repair kits

And, finally..

Colour codes.
01C Black
01Z Dark Brown
041 Black
1AX Smoke Grey
1BG Graphite
1UH Beige Grey
1UT Siaga (beige)
2AW Beige Grey
3BX Light Grey
3HA Balearic Blue
3HH Light Blue
469 Anthracite
4PK Soul (black)
4RL Saddle Brown
581 Cloud White
5BL Black
6AW Light Grey
739 Chrome
7HT Mauritius
90T Cloud White
90V Saddle Brown
A09 Light Grey
GRU Primed

Vw Central electrics, or fuse box if you like.

Sometime in the early 80s VW started phasing out the old trusty “fuse box” and replaced it with what VW would now call the “Central Electrics”.
Not only did they do away with the old, unreliable ceramic fuses they also designed a standard item than could be used across the whole VW range and adapted to suit the model it was slotted into.

This part was fitted into a whole manner of VW’s Golf, Jetta, Caddy, Corrado, Passat as well as the T3.
As time goes on, technology changes and problems arise once parts have been fitted for a length of time, car manufacturers are constantly modifying and changing their inventory, you may find that the part numbers or control numbers have changed but any VW dealer or spares supplier will be able to advise you of any supercessions.
VW as well as identifying relays and control units by their part number they also used printed codes on the visible face of the relay or control unit, these are marked in the column “Control No”


Loc. Relay function Control No Part Number
1 Not used  –
2 Not used
3 Control unit for low coolant warning 43 191 919 376 A
4 Retardation relay (jx & ky)   251 919 082
5 Contact close relay for fan for vans with air con 53 321 919 505 A
5 Electric fan   141 951 253 B
6 Twin tone horn 53 141 951 253 B
7 Fog lamp 53 141 951 253 B
8 Relief relay x contact 100 191 937 503
9 Not used  –
10 Not used  –
11 Control unit for rear window wash wipe   191 955 529
12 Indicator/hazard light control unit   191 953 277 A
12 Indicator/hazard light control unit (with towbar)   431 953 231
12 Indicator/hazard light control unit (with roof turn signal)   211 953 231 K
13 Headlamp washer   701 955 200
14 Rotating emergency light   281 941 587
15 Fuse for instrument illumination    
16 Fuse for rear fog lamp    
17 Not used  –
18 Control unit for heated seat   443 919 533
18 Buzzer (ambulance)   3A0 951 307
19 Florescent tube   441 941 583 C
20 Aux. fuse location    
23 Aux. fuse location    
24 Electric windows   431 951 253 H
25 Indicators/emergency lights for headlights (ambulance)   111 953 227 D
25 Cruise control   321 963 141 A
26 Thermo cut out for electric windows   443 937 105


Fuse No. Component(s). Rating.
1 Radiator fan. 30 Amp
2 Brake lights. 10 Amp
3 Reading lamps,interior lamps, vanity mirror, clock, fag lighter, radio. 15 Amp
4 Hazard light system. 15 Amp
5 Spare. – – – – – – – –
6 Fog lamps. 15 Amp
7 LH side lights/ tail lights. 10 Amp
8 RH side lights/ tail lights. 10 Amp
9 RH headlamp main beam. 10 Amp
10 LH headlamp main beam. 10 Amp
11 Windscreen wipers and washers switch. 15 Amp
12 2nd heater, electric windows, cruise, electric mirror, A/C, rear wiper 20 Amp
13 Fresh air blower. 20 Amp
14 Heated rear window, heated mirrors, light switch light. 20 Amp
15 Reverse lights. 10 Amp
16 Horn(s) 15 Amp
17 Windscreen wiper motor. 10 Amp
18 Brake warning lamp, heated seats, cruise control, belt warning system. 10 Amp
19 Indicators. 10 Amp
20 Number plate lights, headlamp washers. 10 Amp
21 LH dipped beam. 10 Amp
22 RH dipped beam. 10 Amp

What’s in a name? The van with an identity crisis!

I bet you’ve done it.. Bought a van and something was broken! We’ve all done it, it’s only a small part, maybe something like a window seal or a door mirror. Next stop the internet and try and find said broken part, then it starts!
You bought the van as a Type 25, that’s what all your friends call them, that’s what they are called in adverts, in magazines, the internet forums and the Facebook groups, so what are all these parts advertised as T25, T3, Vanagon, Volksiebus, wedge, brick, Bulli, Type 2… hhhnnnnnngghh, which is correct?

The History Lesson

Let’s rewind to around 1950 when VW started production of their new van, what we now know as a split screen. VW already made a car, the Beetle, this was known as a Volkswagen Type 1, so what do you think they called their second vehicle? yep, a Type 2!
Fast forward to the 1961 Frankfurt motor show and VW release their 3rd vehicle, guess what that’s called? yep, Type 3!!
Paris motor show, 1968, guess what’s next? yep, Vw’s 4th model and yeah, you guessed it this was called the Type 4.

Got it? Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 and Type 4.. lets move on..

The first generation of VW Transporter or Type 2 lasted until 1967 when it was replaced with what’s colloquially as the “Bay Window” due to the shape of it’s wrap around front windscreen. Here lies the first identity crisis, 2 different vans made by the same people, both called the same thing and how to differentiate between them? hhmmm.

1979 comes around quickly and VW replace their aging Type 2 “Bay Window” Transporter with a new, fast, warm spacious coil sprung van and again it’s called a Transporter and is also a Type 2. oh dear.

Now, the Germans had come to know the Split [Type 2 1950-1967] as a “T1” short for “Transporter 1”
Next up the Bay [Type 2 1968-1979] was known as T2, again short for “Transporter 2”
Just have a guess what they called VW’s 3rd van….

A T4 is the 4th Transporter and the 5th a T5, simple really.

T for TRANSPORTER and not for “type”

The Chassis numbers

Right, come 1980 we have a problem, not only did VW bring out our favorite piece of Hannovers finest but they also changed the format of how VINs (Vehicle Identification Number) are recorded and here I believe is why we ended up with a few different names for what is the same thing.

All car manufacturers need to put an identification number on the frame somewhere and VW were no different and in the latter part of the 70’s they were using a 10 digit format, the first 2 digits of the 10 gave you some indication of what the vehicle was by way of an abbreviated version of the model code and the 3rd gave you the “model year”, which would be 7 for a 1977 manufactured vehicle for example ( VW model years actually ran from 1st of August to 31st July and not 1st of Jan – 31st December as you would expect, a vehicle manufactured in say September 1976 would actually be a 1977 model year, no idea why, probably some reason for that, I don’t know the answer, sorry!)

For example.

 1160123456 would be a Type 1 1976 model year.
 2170123456 would be a Type 2 1977 model year.
 3130123456 would be a Type 3 1973 model year.

This system is fine until you get to 1980 as then you gain a certain amount of ambiguity as regards to the 3rd digit, is it a 1970 or a 1980? What they went on to do was start using letters to represent model years so 1980 became A, 1981 became B and so on and so forth..

An example VIN from 1980 would look something like this.


See the first 2 digits? hmmm you thinking what I’m thinking?

At some point in 1981 European vehicles manufacturers were obliged to adopt a standardised 17 digit ISO system and the VIN number changed to the format we still use today, something like this.

WV2 ZZZ 25 Z BH 012345

A certain amount of info can be buried in the VIN which we won’t go into too much detail here but you’ll notice that there’s a “25” in there again?

Right, to explain this further we have to rewind again.
You know we talked about Type numbers earlier? right, there are subdivisions of these type numbers, The Model code is actually 6 digits long and has been for as long as I can go back, this code can be deciphered against some tables and you can work out what engine and transmission the vehicle had, maybe which country it was exported to and if it was left or right hand drive.


The abbreviated Type numbers used for the T3 were..

245 – left hand drive pick up [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
246 – right hand drive pick up [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
247 – Left hand drive double cab pick up [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
248 – Right hand drive double cab pick up [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
251 – Left hand drive panel van [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
252 – Right hand drive panel van [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
253 – Left hand drive Kombi [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
254 – Right hand drive Kombi [Commercial vehicle, badged as “Transporter”]
255 – Left hand drive Caravelle [Passenger car, badged as Caravelle]
256 – Right hand drive Caravelle [Passenger car, badged as Caravelle]

So, this brings us on to the next silly thing,

“Yeah, I own a Type 25 pick up”.

This is plain daft, you can see from the above that all pick up type numbers/sales codes/model codes start with 24, so, you could say I own a type 24 pick up, well, you could but not really as if you look back through VW type numbers for “split screen” T1 models you’ll note that a Type 24 is actually a microbus deluxe, or a Samba!

A little game now, spot the odd one out..

T1, T2, T25, T4, T5..

So, to round up, don’t get your T’s and your Types mixed up.



VW T3 M-plate decoder

Here’s a nifty little website and a great little gadget to unlock a lot of information about your van.

On every VW T3 that left the factory there 2 white paper stickers, one was fitted to the inside the first page of the service book and the second was placed in the cab. The position they were fitted in changed from van to van but on right hand drive vans they were usually fitted on the metal cross member above the pedals, the left hand drive vans had them in the footwell near the A pillar.

If you still have your sticker intact then enter the information into the following website and decipher what all those letters and numbers actually mean!