So, you’re at a swap meet and a there’s a guy selling a load of new old stock Nissan parts. But what model do they all belong to? How can you identify all those parts without having to remove each one from its box to have a look? (and even that’s no guarantee of correctly identifying the part!) The part number of course! Nissan’s part numbers, as a rule, consist of ten digits. They are usually written as two five digit codes, separated by a space or hyphen. At first it must seem an incomprehensible system, but look closer and you’ll find that it’s surprisingly simple. Here, I’ll attempt to explain the system and give you some of the basic information necessary to ‘read’ the numbers for yourself.
First of all, you need to know the basics. The ten digit part number can be effectively split into four parts. Each of these parts tells you a little about the type of part and applied model. The image above shows a typical Nissan part number label, this one being for a Datsun 510 front turn signal lens. This part number can be divided up into the four main parts as follows…
The first two digits of the first half of the number are referred to as the ‘Section Number’. This will tell you the major function of the part. For example if the number was “10” it would be something to do with the engine or if it was ’21’ it would be something to do with the cooling system and so on. In our example here we have ’26’ which refers to electrical section #5 which covers lights both inside and out plus the horn. The section number is used in conjunction with the “Character number” as explained further below.
The images below contain a listing of the major Section Numbers with their Character Number sub-divisions. In places it is not entirely clear from the Nissan description exactly what they mean unfortunately, because the original listing has some rather odd Japanese to English translations! From 1980, this system was altered slightly so that the first three digit indicated the Section Number and the Character Number by the remaining two. I have included both section number guides for pre-1980 and post 1980 part numbers below…
The next three digits (or two if post 1980) are called the “Character Number” and show the minor classification within the major function shown by the Section Number. As I said, in our particular example the Section Number shows us that we have something for the 5th electrical section… the Character Number will tell us a little more. In this case the number “121” shows us that the part is to do with the external lights. This can be understood just from the fact that the number is in the 100 region…the actual number will identify the part very accurately but for general part identification this is not really necessary.
Third we have the most useful part of the number called the “Part Type Number”. These three digits tell you what model the part fits. Although this is very useful it can’t tell the whole story as it only tells you the primary application, so that part might fit other or later models but the number will only list the original application. The knowledge of parts interchangeability only comes with experience and practice as that information is not widely available. What is available however is the original application codes. Nissan publish these code tables in parts catalogs, their purpose being to allow you to read the Part Type Number and cross reference it to a Nissan chassis code. If we take a look at our example, the Part Type Number is “214”. This corresponds to the model L510, which is a LHD 1300cc 510 so we can gather that this is an early type lens as the 1300 (L13) model was one of the first produced. The fact that it lists LHD is in this case irrelevant as it’s the same for RHD. A list of part type numbers for most models up to around 1981 is shown below. These pages include models such as trucks, buses and forklifts as well as all the cars and light commercials. The listings date back to about 1957, including models as early as 113.
If you wish to print out a copy of the Part Type tables for your own use, you can download them as a single PDF document HERE .
Lastly we have the “Distinction Number” which is a two digit code used to identify the difference between similar parts, such as if a piece of upholstery is black or brown …or if a different material or process is used in it manufacture. There are four main types of Distinction Number, shown in the table below. The distinction Number is not really needed in order to identify a part and like the Character Numbers, there are nearly a hundred different ones to learn, all of which can vary from part to part.
Hopefully you will now have enough information to begin identifying part numbers and parts. There is of course, much more to learn about numbers but the basics are all you really need …the rest will come with practice. Soon you’ll be able to make an educated guess at what the part number for a particular part will be. That should surprise your Nissan dealer!