Home Advice Buying
What is VIN Etching and is it Worth the Cost?

What is VIN Etching and is it Worth the Cost?

vin etching

Basically, VIN etching inscribes your car’s Vehicle Identification Number onto its windshield and windows. The VIN is a 17-character serial number which is unique to every vehicle and can be found in several different places on the car. When a vehicle is stolen to be resold, the first things thieves generally do is remove the VIN so the car can’t be identified. If the VIN has been etched into the vehicle’s glass, the criminals usually have to spend the time and money to get the windshield and windows replaced – negating much of the profit they’ll receive from reselling the vehicle. Because of this, some auto insurance companies offer discounts on comprehensive insurance or waive insurance deductibles for vehicles that are protected by VIN etching.

vin etching

Does it Really Stop a Thief?

So VIN etching is definitely worth the dealer add-on, right? Not exactly. First of all, some people question the value of this service in the first place. While VIN etching may discourage some thieves from reselling the entire vehicle it won’t keep them from reselling parts that don’t have the VIN stamped on them. It also won’t stop the large percentage of thieves who simply steal vehicles for a joy ride. Other theft deterrents like electronic alarms and GPS tracking devices are probably more effective than VIN etching.

vin etching

Beware of Other Thieves

More importantly, however, VIN etching only costs the dealer less than $25. A $400 charge means the dealership marked up the cost of the service by 1600 percent. If you want VIN etching for your car as an added layer of theft protection, you can actually do it yourself through a kit that you can easily find for $20. However, even if you want to do the VIN etching yourself, you may find that some dealerships will claim that this is a required add on since the vehicle has already been etched. If you can’t get them to waive this fee, simply take your business to another dealership. You don’t need to work with someone who has to resort to cheap tricks to make a profit.