Is VIN etching really worth it?

What is VIN etching?

VIN etching is a process that involves an acid etching of your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number onto a windshield, or side window. The idea is to deter vehicle theft by limiting the thief’s ability to sell a stolen vehicle, or its parts. A dash-mounted VIN plate, or door tag can easily be removed by a car thief. But an acid-etched VIN number can’t be hidden, requiring the villain to remove the VIN etched part before they can dispose of the vehicle.

Stolen vehicle’s are valuable for three reasons:

  1. Valuable Parts: Components like airbags, control modules, and body panels are invaluable on the black market. Body shops / reconditioners can purchase the parts for half the cost, then sell unsuspecting customers the stolen parts for a huge profit.
  2. Resale: Car thieves can easily swap VIN plates and titles, allowing them to sell stolen cars on the open market. Or, the stolen cars can be shipped overseas, in which case, a VIN etching won’t do you any good (especially when your stolen E-Class winds up in Albania).
  3. Commission of a larger crime: If a bad guy needs your BMW M5 for a getaway car, he’s probably not going to care that your VIN number is etched into the windshield.

As passive as it is, VIN number etching can actually save you money on your insurance. The reason is, cops are able to locate and trace the VIN number more quickly. And this helps them to track down car thieves, and recover more stolen cars for the insurance companies. Thus saving you money on insurance, so ask your insurance company if they have a VIN etching insurance discount.

Ultraviolet VIN number labels can also be placed on various body panels, making it more difficult for thieves to get away with selling stolen parts.  UV VIN labels can only be seen with a black light, and cops are trained to look on certain areas of  a vehicle for these tags. If they’re investigating a suspected ‘chop shop’, they’ll be able to trace any stolen parts back to your vehicle. This in turn, allows the insurance company to recover more of the money they just paid you.

VIN etching scam

Many car dealers have a VIN etching fee as an add-on in the Finance Office. This fee is one of the biggest car dealer scams and usually costs around $100 and is almost pure profit for the car dealership.  They’ll put your vehicle’s VIN on the windshield, back glass, and side windows.  Don’t pay for this, instead…

Do It Yourself – VIN Number etching

If you want to have VIN etching done to your vehicle, you can buy a do-it-yourself VIN etching kit on the internet for about $20-30. These come with a custom stencil of your vehicle’s VIN number and a mild acid solution to etch the number into the glass. If you opt for the UV VIN tags, the kit will also come with ultra violet paint to put the VIN number on the inside of the body panels.

Regardless of how you get it done, VIN number etching is an easy way to deter car thieves, and save some money on your insurance.