Every 43 seconds a vehicle is stolen in the United States of America. It is widely believed that etching the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) onto your vehicle is the most effective anti-theft device.

VIN etching is the engraving of a 17-digit serial number on the windows and other parts of your vehicle. Each car, truck, or SUV serial number is unique, so it is an excellent way of identifying your vehicle in the event of a theft.

According to Allstate, the more places on your car it’s visible on, the better it is for you. This number is usually a quarter of an inch high by two inches wide.

Its purpose is to deter thieves from stealing your vehicle and attempting to sell its parts at a parts shop.

Such shops don’t want to buy parts with VIN numbers on them. One reason is that they do not want to be charged with receiving stolen goods, which very well could happen if the vehicle owner has the VIN number etched on the window and has a record of the number recorded.

Once a police report has been made, a warrant for the thief’s arrest could be issued in a matter of hours.

The NHTSA requires that vehicle manufacturers label their vehicle’s major component parts with the vehicle identification number (VIN). The following are parts that are required to be marked:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Hood
  • Right/left front fenders
  • Right/left front doors
  • Right/left rear doors (four-door models)
  • Sliding or cargo door(s)
  • Deck lid
  • Tailgate or hatchback (if present)
  • Front/rear bumpers
  • Right/left rear quarter panels
  • Right/left-side assembly (MPVs)
  • Pickup box and/or cargo box (LDTs)
  • Rear door(s) (both doors in case of double doors)

Benefits of VIN Etching

Besides preventing theft, insurance companies like it when you agree to get your vehicle VIN-etched. They may even offer you a discount on your monthly premium if you do so.

Here’s why:

VIN etching is permanent. You’ve significantly lowered your chances of a theft if you VIN etch your vehicle. That means that your car insurance company will be less likely to have to pay out money towards you buying a new car. Therefore, insuring you will be a pleasurable experience for them.

Another fact worth noting:

If you live in New York or Louisiana, comprehensive insurance companies are required to offer you a discount if you have VIN etching on the vehicle you want to insure, while in other states, the discount is optional, according to the NASDAQ website. Usually, this discount can be 5 to 15 percent off your premiums.

save money by etching VIN on windows


The service should only cost around $20 or $25. That is just about what you would pay if you were to do it yourself.

And yes, for peace of mind and security, the $20 to $25 you spend on it is worth it, for the etching is permanent.

The only way it can be undone is for the thief to destroy the windows and buy new ones. This undertaking would be not worth the money for the thief. Thus, he is not likely to do this.

But not only do you have to worry about the thief who would take your car in the first place. Also beware of the car dealerships which would try to make extra profit by offering to do it themselves, and try to fleece you out of money by secretly including the charge in the sale of the vehicle, then not telling you until later.

According to the Consumer Law Group, these charges can range from $100 to close to $200 or more, which is a common practice in places like Connecticut.

They will even tell you it’s required by law.

This is a blatant lie, for VIN etching is optional, something done to protect you. If your dealership engages in this dishonest practice, run–don’t walk–away from them, to another dealership that is more ethically run! Or order the kit over the Web.

If you don’t want to spend the $20 or $25 you would spend ordering the kit over the Internet, or thought you wouldn’t do a good enough job–go down to your local police precinct, and find out if they can do it for you free of charge, and when.

If you want the peace of mind knowing that your car is protected from would-be thieves, then VIN etching would be one way to do it.

This, in combination of locking your steering wheel with anti-theft devices, and having your VIN number handy–could keep you enjoying your vehicle for a long time to come.

If you choose to do this, make sure you do so in a cost-effective manner–if not for free, then for the cheapest rate possible.

So you have nothing to lose. Give VIN etching a try–and thank yourself later.