We live our lives by the numbers—phone numbers, birthdays, PINs, passwords, anniversaries, addresses—the list goes on.

But do you know the numbers that are key to keeping you safe on the road?

If you own a car, you know that taking care of it is a big responsibility. Understanding a few key numbers about your vehicle can help you keep your car running smoothly and safely.

The Basics

Before you slide into the driver’s seat, be sure that you know where to find these numbers.

  • VIN: Also known as your Vehicle Identification Number, a unique set of digits that relate to specific information about your vehicle. This number can be found on the dashboard, just below the windshield on the driver’s side; on the driver’s side doorpost where the door latches, or on the driver’s side door just below the latch mechanism.
  • License Plate Number: With a specific series of letters and/or numbers, your license plate indicates that your vehicle has been registered with your state. While all states require that license plates be affixed to the rear of your vehicle; only 31 states (and Washington, D.C.) require vehicles to display a second license plate on the front of your car. Be sure to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see what the specific requirements are.
  • Driver’s License Number: Your driver’s license not only verifies that you are qualified to operate a motor vehicle, but is also often used to verify your identity. The number associated with your driver’s license can be found on your license itself, often at the top or next to your photograph and other personal information such as date of birth, sex, height and weight.
  • Title Number: Your title number serves as proof of ownership of your vehicle and can be found on your car’s registration document. Make sure to keep a copy of your registration in your vehicle—if you are pulled over by a police officer, he or she will request to see it.
  • Insurance Policy Number: If you are involved in an accident with another driver on the road, you’ll want to exchange insurance information, including your policy number. This number can be found on your insurance ID card that you keep in your vehicle as proof of insurance. You can also usually find your policy number on bills or statements from your insurance company.

Keeping Up

Now that you know how to easily locate the basic numbers that identify your car (and yourself as a driver and vehicle owner), there are a few other numbers to know that will help you properly maintain your vehicle.

  • Mileage: Make sure you’re regularly checking out the odometer. It’s important to know how many miles you have on your car, especially when you have to pay a visit to the mechanic. It’s often one of the first questions he’ll ask.
  • Gas Tank Capacity: The average gas tank holds between 15 and 18 gallons of gas. Check out your owner’s manual to find out how much your tank holds.
  • Miles Per Tank: Reset your odometer when you fill up with gas and keep an eye on how many miles it takes before you get to empty. If the average number of miles you get per tank changes drastically, it could be a sign to have the mechanic take a closer look.
  • Miles Per Gallon: If you know your miles per tank and gas tank capacity, it’s pretty simple to figure out your car’s level of fuel efficiency.
  • Date of Last Oil Change: When you have your oil changed by a professional mechanic, they often put a little sticker up in the driver’s side windshield to remind you when to come in for your next oil change. It depends on the car and the type of oil used, but a general rule of thumb is 3,000 miles or 3 months of driving between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual to find out what is best for your vehicle.
  • Warranty Length: The length of your factory or extended warranty is defined by a specific number of years OR miles, usually whichever comes first. Make sure you know when it expires to avoid getting stuck with a big unexpected repair bill.

Staying Safe

To keep you and your passengers safe on the road, there are a few other numbers to keep in mind, and those are your “In Case of Emergency” numbers. Of course one of the most important things to keep in your car at all times is a fully-charged cell phone. Saved in your “Contacts” list should be:

  • 911 & other local emergency numbers
  • The phone number of your car insurance agent or company
  • The phone number of a close family member or friend
  • The phone number for your roadside assistance service

These are the numbers to know about your car to help maximize the life of your vehicle and keep you driving safely. You don’t have to memorize them all, but it’s critical to be aware of each one and know how to find them quickly and easily when needed. Knowing your numbers will give you peace of mind throughout your car ownership and driving experience.