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Car Window Etching Scam or Not

One of the products that a car dealer sells or convinces car buyers they need is the car window etching scam. It is probably one of the most talked about of all the car dealer scams. Depending on the car dealer it may also be one of the most profitable scams.

What is Car Window Etching?

Basically car window etching is a process of acid etching a series of numbers or letters, usually the VIN# or Vehicle Identification# or serial number on all of the glass on your new car. These numbers are then used to identify parts of your car if your car was stolen and disassembled for parts. The idea is that a thief will not want to steal your car because the individual parts can be identified and therefore none of the automobile scrap yards will accept a car that has window etching.

There are insurance companies that write car window etching policies that are supposed to protect you if your car gets stolen when you have all of your windows etched. You pay a fee for this service, but the worst part is the range of prices that car dealers charge. There are stories of car dealers charging anywhere from $199 to $2000.

Car Window Etching Scam Details

The big push to sell car window etching when buying new cars is usually done by the Finance Manager when you are doing your paperwork. The Finance Manager will tell you that having car windows etched can give you an extra $2500 if your car gets stolen. Because of the exposure of the car window etching scams throughout the car business window etching has been downplayed somewhat and sometimes becomes one aspect of an overall security protection package. These packages often consist of other parts such as car alarms.

If you are seriously considering car window etching against the opinions of many car people be sure to carefully read the documents and understand the fine print of these documents. There are often catches such as your car insurance must pay before they will pay anything for a stolen vehicle and if they have to pay it will only be after your insurance pays and then the shortage. Think twice before you pay for window etching on your new car.

Seriously – V.I.N. Etched Car Windows!

Think about this scenario logically, a thief is going to steal your car and they are going to go around your car with a flashlight to see if you have window etching…..I think not! Car thieves can get around many of the best car security and alarm system and the manufacturers security system, but they are going to be put off by a small series of numbers scratched on your windows…..Really!!!

You Want Car Window Etching?

If you really want to get your car windows etched because for some reason you believe that this product will make your car safer, you can go to many auto parts stores and do it yourself for under $20. That is about what the car window etching scam will cost the car dealer. The companies that sell this window etching system to car dealers often boast that the car window etching scam can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars of profit to the bottom line of the car dealership. The car window etch scam can make huge potential profits for the car dealer, but offers next to nothing in the way of benefits to the new car buyer according experts.

Pitching the Car Window Etching Scam

The car dealer Finance Manager has been known to sell the car windows etching system in a variety of different ways. Read your car dealer loan paperwork closely because some car dealer Finance Managers might add window etching without ever talking about the system. Others will tell you that the lender requires window etching (dealership financing scam) to protect the car which we all know is not true. Sometime they will tell you that it only adds $3 or $4 a month to your payment in hopes of you not caring about such a small amount. Over a 60 month loan that can be $180 to $240, if you have an extra $200 bucks let me know because I will gladly take it off your hands.

The car window etching scam can make huge profits for the car dealer and many automotive experts think that it’s practically worthless to the average car buyer. Window etching for your new car has been one of the most profitable car dealer scams for years. Ultimately the decision is yours if you want your car windows etched, but I always take a pass.

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4 Responses to Car Window Etching Scam or Not

  1. Brian Fisher March 20 at 9:36 pm #

    This window etching scam is exactly that a scam! I have been in law enforcement for over 14 years and never have I heard of a car thief not stealing a car due to window etching! Also never have I heard of a claim ever being paid out by any insurance company. My opinion this has to be the biggest and most shameful way dealerships rip people off …..they prey upon peoples fears and swindle them out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

  2. Rick Sadler April 18 at 5:52 pm #

    I tried out a new Mercedes yesterday and when I ask what the $399 security charge was I was told it was glass identification it’s on all Mercedes and when I told them it was a dealer rip off and take it off the salesman said they couldn’t and it’s mandatory ~ if they want to make a sale that charge will be off !!

  3. Jim April 22 at 6:56 pm #

    Good for you Rick!

  4. Trevor January 19 at 8:49 am #


    I’ve seen many blogs on vin etching scams and I’d like to help correct any mis-information shared on the internet.

    First, my father patented both chemical and laser vin etching in the 1990′s. Future blogs should read “fraudulent dealer vin etch practice” instead of “vin etching scam”. The dealers “scamming” folks are the issue, not vin etch.

    Vin etching is a time honored theft deterrent. We’ve etched millions of cars over the last 30 years all over the world along with many other company’s that followed our steps…so it must have some honest merit and credited value on misc fronts.

    Vin etching is recognized by AAA, the FBI, Law Enforcement, NCIC, Insurance Agency’s etc. as being an effective theft deterrent for misc reasons i.e. vin etch costs chop shops more to replace each window etched then the entire vehicle is actually worth on the black market in most cases, thus, it’s a proven theft deterrent.

    A thief doesn’t need a flashlight to see the etched glass, that’s a weak argument maybe better used for micro dot vehicle security but don’t forget to add the magnify glass!

    The warranty, which I’m not a huge fan of only because I believe in the vin etch product itself, is why it’s cost can potentially be inflated by the Dealer along with most other aftermarket products. Every retail product has a reasonable mark up, otherwise why are any of us in business?

    Claims are indeed paid by the provider in the rare case of theft but if not, the provider is backed by a Best-A rated carrier so if indeed the theft claim is valid…it will be honored.

    Yes, the actual vin etch alone should cost less than $20 but with a warranty, any warranty whether for a car or flatscreen tv, its going to carry a higher cost. Id bet you would pay $300 for a warranty for your tv at Best Buy in case it ever broke but you’re upset over a $200 figure to both protect your vehicle from theft, insure it in the event of theft, and finance the cost. I understand the last sentence is speculative but also comparable to shed light on other reputable retailers that offer similar products.

    It Sounds like you had or knew someone who had a bad experience with vin etch and that’s unfortunate. Every penny counts. However, instead of worrying over an extra $1-5 per month on your ammortized car loan….worry about protecting your 2nd greatest asset in return for a few bucks extra per month and further know it will be working to protect your ride for the entire service life of the vehicle…long term investment returns don’t get much more rewarding than vin etching.

    Customers shouldn’t pay more then $100-150 for 3yr vin etch warranty coverage and $175-250 for 5yr vin etch warranty coverage….those are standard term rates to fairly charge IF the customer wants the product. *Thats the problem here, dealers overpricing and/or mis-leading…not the product(s) itself.

    Vin etching also carry’s a good return for your investment via knowing it will never break or not protect like a standard alarm bc the battery is dead or terminals disconnected.

    What about the millions of dollars overcharged by service departments and why not expose the hostile process of not having a choice but to fix your car for 10 times what it’s worth via parts/labor vs otherwise not having a working car to make a living? Every dealership generates its greatest profit center through the Service Department. My wife use to be a service advisor.

    My new goal is to bring awareness to vin etching benefits and try an silence those who are publically brutalizing the product instead of embracing it’s benefits in an effort to protect the customer’s 2nd most important asset. Protect your assets!

    Im also here and elsewhere to further downplay any critics who otherwise know nothing about vin etching. Now you know enough to know right from wrong with regards to vin etching.

    I’d be happy to share more if you’re not convinced but just know I’m the one guy who will always disagree with your negative vin etch assessment.

    Kind Regards,

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