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What Is Vin Etching

What Is Vin Etching

VIN etching is a security measure that involves permanently engraving a vehicle’s unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) onto its windows, windshield, and other glass components.

The process uses a stencil and an acid etching paste or other methods to engrave the VIN, making it nearly impossible for thieves to profit from selling the windows or the vehicle itself.

What is VIN Etching?

VIN etching is a theft deterrent system that permanently marks a vehicle’s glass with its unique 17-digit VIN.

The VIN is typically engraved on the windshield, side windows, rear window, and sunroof using chemical etching, laser etching, or mechanical engraving.

The process takes only a few minutes and does not obstruct the driver’s view or alter the vehicle’s appearance.

Pros and Cons of VIN Etching


  • Deters theft by making it difficult for thieves to sell stolen vehicles or parts
  • May qualify for insurance discounts of up to 15% in some states
  • Aids in vehicle recovery if stolen
  • Relatively inexpensive when done using a DIY kit


  • Limited evidence supporting its effectiveness as a theft deterrent
  • Insurance discounts may be minimal or not offered by all providers
  • Dealerships may charge high prices for the service
  • Does not aid in vehicle recovery if stolen

VIN Etching Services and Costs

VIN etching can be performed by dealerships, auto clubs, law enforcement agencies, or using DIY kits

  • Dealerships: Typically charge between $200 to $400 for VIN etching (Also called a VTR Fee)
  • Auto clubs: Some, like AAA, offer VIN etching as a free or low-cost service to members
  • Law enforcement: Police departments may provide free VIN etching during community events
  • DIY kits: Available online or at auto parts stores for around $20 to $30

VIN etching isn’t a foolproof theft deterrent, but it can add an extra layer of security to your car for a relatively low cost when done using a DIY kit or through a free or discounted service.

However, thee might be other methods for similar or slightly higher costs that are more effective measures for preventing car theft.


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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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