Did Honda Really Just Write ‘FART’ On Every Honda CR-V Hybrid?

 I really enjoy when automakers show their human side and add a bit of cheekiness to the products they make. In the late sixties and early seventies, carmakers showed this fun side by offering wild colors, graphics packages, and the legendary Road Runner’s classic “meep meep” horn sound modeled after the cartoon. We can see other examples of playfulness with the Ram TRX trash talk easter eggs. Now, Honda is joining in the fun with a juvenile bit of joking hidden in the Honda CR-V hybrid. 

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is out here making jokes

The Drive hilariously reports that if you want a good juvenile laugh, look no further than the bottom right corner of someone’s CR-V Hybrid’s windshield and read out the VIN. Like all farts, someone is to blame. Did Honda make a funny, or was this an honest manufacturing code that just happened to line up in a funny series of letters? 

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid parked on a mountain top
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid | Honda

Every Honda CR-V Hybrid’s VIN starts with “7FART” (full disclosure; yes, I did laugh when I typed that.) As with all VINs since 1981, the Honda’s funny VIN follows the 17-character form. VINs all conform to this length and a surprisingly regulated set of rules after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standardized VIN rules. It just so happens that the five characters here line up for a bit of childish humor. 

So how did a fart joke get into the CR-V Hybrid VIN?

Car and Driver also noted this hilarious easter egg and wondered if what rules, if any kept this sort of thing from happening more often. It turns out after that 1981 ruling from the NHTSA, VINs have to meet certain requirements. 

a close up of a real Honda CR-V VIN that starts with "7FART"
Honda CR-V Hybrid VIN | Car and Driver

For instance, a VIN cannot have the letters I, Q, or O in them because they may easily be misread as 0s or a 1. The same section of the rule book about the forbidden letters also dictates the order in which the numbers and letters must be on a VIN. 

How to read your VIN

According to Car and Driver, the first three characters represent the “world manufacturer identifier,” assigned by SAE International. Specifically, these characters identify the country of manufacture, the automaker, and the plant the vehicle was made in. Even though the first number shows the country of origin, the “7” at the beginning of the CR-V Hybrid’s VIN isn’t the typical number associated with cars made in America, which the CR-V hybrid was. 

a Honda CR-V VIN readout
A Honda CR-V VIN readout | Car and Driver

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The vehicle’s powertrain and body type are usually indicated by the next four through eight digits. This section is mostly for the automakers to keep their records straight. Interestingly, the ninth character represents a failsafe against fraud. This number is generated by a formula used by the U.S. Department of transportation to prove a Valid VIN.  

The 10th figure will show the model year. Each letter represents a year, and the system restarts every 30 years making the differentiation between two cars with the same 10th position letter fairly easy to distinguish. The 11th character shows the specific plant the car was made in if it wasn’t already indicated within the first four digits. And, the following six digits typically show where a specific vehicle falls within a production run. 

Did Honda mean to rip the “7FART”

Now that we understand how the VIN works, we can judge whether or not it meant to crack one off in front of the entire world. Well, according to a Honda spokesperson, Honda is basically claiming the old iron-clad defense, “whoever smelt it, dealt it.” Honda says that the VIN was not made to say FART on purpose. 

In fact, Honda has an easy out to blame the “7FART” on someone else; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA has the final approval on VIN submissions and ultimately clears the use of all VINs. However, the NHTSA gave them the ol’ “whoever denied it, supplied it” rebuttal. According to Car and Driver, the NHTSA says that each automaker is responsible for making sure there are no inappropriate messages in the vehicle’s VIN. 

It gets even more childish

Jalopnik went even further down the rabbit hole and found a particular Honda CR-V Hybrid VIN that really makes the whole “we didn’t know” argument hard to believe. I won’t paint the whole picture for you, dear reader, but if you care to read between the lines here, be my guest. I’ll tell you now; there are a few untoward easter eggs hidden here. The VIN that Jalopnik found read; 7FART6H90LE000420.