What Is Better: VIN Etching or a Vehicle Recovery Device?

Whether you regularly park in areas where car theft is a concern or are just looking for an added layer of security, simple measures can protect your vehicle and provide peace of mind. As vehicle theft rates rise, two methods have emerged to give drivers an added layer of security: VIN etching and GPS technology. 

In recent years, more and more drivers are purchasing VIN etching kits to deter theft. In fact, some AAA Auto Clubs are even offering it as a free service to members. On the other hand, GPS technology has played a major role in theft prevention and vehicle recovery without the need for etching.

So, which method is best for drivers looking for better security? In this article, we’re comparing the pros and cons of each method to assess which places more security in the hands of drivers.

What Is VIN Etching?

VIN etching is a preventive measure used to deter vehicle theft that involves burning the VIN number onto vehicle parts, most commonly the driver side window. The idea is that thieves are less likely to target a vehicle with VIN numbers etched into the parts because they can easily be traced back to the vehicle if they try to sell the parts. 

Pros of VIN Etching

  1. It’s a simple method. Because most vehicles are stolen for the purpose of resale or selling individual parts, some argue it is a successful deterrent. Etching creates a challenge for thieves intending to resell the car and introduces risk for autopart sellers purchasing individual parts. 
  1. Insurance discounts are available. Certain insurance providers will incentivize preventative measures such as etching. These discounts advertise anywhere from  5 percent to 15 percent off of your comprehensive coverage cost.
  1. It’s relatively easy to do yourself. If insurance companies or auto clubs do not offer the service for free, VIN etching is a relatively easy DIY method with kits available to purchase online. 

Cons of VIN Etching

  1. It’s mostly a scarecrow effect. Much like a scarecrow, there is no tangible evidence that supports that VIN etching protects against car theft. If a thief is not deterred by any visible VIN numbers, the driver has no back-up layer of protection.
  1. Insurance discounts are minimal. If you’re thinking, “Well, at least I’ll get an insurance discount,” you may be wrong. While Insurance agencies offer a higher discount rate, discussion boards consistently show savings of only an estimated six dollars over six months.
  1. It is not effective in recovery. So your car gets stolen after all. Now what? While VIN etching may be a deterrent, it will not help you recover the vehicle if your car gets stolen. 

What Is a Vehicle Recovery Device?

A vehicle recovery device is a GPS system that is installed in the vehicle to allow users to see its real-time location. These systems are designed for easier vehicle recovery while offering additional features including smart alerts, preventative maintenance scans, and more.

Pros of a Vehicle Recovery Device

  1. They are highly effective. GPS systems are synonymous with stolen vehicle recovery systems for a reason. GPS systems, known as Active GPS, report 90 to 94 percent vehicle recovery rates. Systems such as Elo GPS, even have additional smart alerts to help deter theft. For example, if your car leaves a designated perimeter, the driver will immediately be notified of the vehicle’s location.
  1. Insurance discounts are available. GPS systems also qualify for insurance discounts, with some insurers offering up to 20 percent.

Cons of GPS Systems

  1. Installation method. Not all GPS devices are installed the same way. GPS devices that plug into the OBD-II port can be easily removed by a thief. It is important to consider whether your device is installed discreetly on the vehicle or simply plugged in. 
  1. There’s no visible deterrent. Because a system like Elo GPS is installed within the vehicle and is not visible to a thief, it will not provide any form of scarecrow effect.  

So, Which Is Best?

Weighing all the positive and negative aspects of each method, GPS systems bring a better solution to the table. While etching is proactive and relatively inexpensive, there is no supporting evidence for its effectiveness. 

It is better to purchase an installed GPS system that guarantees a chance at recovery than a minimally effective deterrent in the event that the vehicle is stolen. 

About Elo GPS

Elo GPS supports vehicle recovery by providing a real-time location tracking system, a 24/7 hotline, and dedicated vehicle recovery specialists who work in tandem with local authorities to ensure that your vehicle is returned in a safe and timely manner. To learn more about the numerous benefits of GPS technology in vehicle recovery, connect with our team to find a dealership near you.