Car Window Etching

Anti Theft Vehicle Protection
or Another Car Buying Scam?

Car window etching gets, in my opinion, a bad wrap. Many of the "car buying tips guru's" on the Internet tout this as one of the biggest car buying scams dealers pull on customers.

I think they are wrong.

Most of these "guru's" don't even seem to know what this coverage is.

It's a good coverage for the right customer, but you'll want to be sure you're not getting raked over the coals to buy this anti theft vehicle protection.

what's below:

What Is
Car Window Etching?

Window etching is an anti theft vehicle protection benefit that is sold as a theft deterrent. This coverage will offer a cash benefit, paid to the policy holder, in the event the vehicle is stolen and not recovered.

Window etching used to involve the actual physical act of acid etching or engraving a serial number onto the windows, frame and other major components of a vehicle.

The theft deterrent comes from the visibility of this serial number on windows and/or a sticker claiming the vehicle has this anti theft vehicle protection.

Supposedly, a car thief would see this number and move on, because certain car parts would not be worth as much with this etching on them.

Car window etching has now become more of an insurance policy than a deterrent, in my opinion.

Most companies that I see offering this coverage do not acid etch or engrave the vehicle, but simply put stickers on certain parts of the vehicle.

What you are really buying is a warranty coverage that will pay you cash if the vehicle is stolen and not recovered within a certain amount of time, usually 30 days.

The coverage that we offer at the dealership I work at is simply a warranty, although the contract claims that it is an anti theft vehicle protection.

All we do is sticker the vehicle and assign a registration number. If your vehicle were stolen and not recovered within 30 days you'd be paid $2,500. Same would apply if it were recovered in 30 days, but was considered a total loss.

If the vehicle were stolen and recovered within 30 days, but had some damage (not totaled), they would pay up to $500 toward your insurance deductible.

Be sure to read the fine print...What the finance manager says and what the contract says may be completely different...

The contract is what's binding.

Who Should Consider This
Anti Theft Vehicle Protection

Anyone that parks their vehicle in a high theft area. This could apply to:

  • Where you live
  • Where you work
  • Where you shop
  • Where you travel (including airport parking)

How It Is Used As
A Car Buying Scam

Car window etching becomes a scam when it is stuffed into your contract without you knowing or if it is presented to you as a mandatory part of the sales price.

Some unscrupulous finance managers will tell you that the etch has already been performed and that it's simply part of the purchase price...

Lie - Lie - Lie!

Unfortunately, I've seen this happen many times and it might surprise you as to how many people will see that their payment is the same as quoted on the sales floor and will sign away.

This is an optional product and you have the right to accept or decline it.

Why Some Call It
A Car Buying Scam

As mentioned above, some "car buying tips guru's" will call car window etching a scam because some dealerships charge an arm and a leg for this coverage.

Contrary to some "guru's" popular beliefs, over charging for this coverage is not a scam.

It's simply called greed!

I've personally seen finance managers charge customers $2,000 for this anti theft coverage...

Very smooth talkers and
a lot of deception involved!

This coverage should not, in my opinion, cost that much. Of course, if they presented the cost of the program to you in a legitimate fashion and you chose to buy it, then you simply paid more than you could have and it's no scam.

I honestly don't know who would pay $2,000 for a benefit, that you "might" use, that will only pay $500-$1,000 more if a claim is filed.

Usually, in these types of situations I would have to guess that there was some sort of major deception or a scam involved.

The actual cost of etch is in the $20 - $60 range, so you can see where $2,000 is a ridiculously large mark up.

At the dealership I work for we offer this coverage for $199 and it covers the vehicle for 5 years. I think that is fair for the potential payoff in the event of a total loss.

All in all, I think this is a good coverage, but you want to make sure that you are not over paying and you understand the exact coverage you are paying for.

There are kits that can be purchased for the "Do It Yourself'ers" out there and I believe they run in the $30 range.

That's probably your best bet, but I'd still be sure to read the contract carefully and be sure you fully understand the car window etching coverage and its benefits.

Return from Car Window Etching to more Car Buying Scams

Return to Insider Car Buying Tips home

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.