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February 14, 2013

instaVIN Providing Drivers with Vehicle History Reports from a Mobile App

On Tuesday, instaVIN announced that it released a free smartphone app that gives used car buyers quick and convenient access to a vehicle's history and title status by simply providing the vehicle identification number (VIN).

VIN information can be input manually or scanned from barcode images.

The reports that instaVIN provides are highly detailed and come from NMVTIS (The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System) with over 100 data points collected. They comply with the California AB1215 law, which went into effect in July 2012. One provision of the new law requires better disclosure of a vehicle's history by car dealers.

Information includes accident history; whether the car has an open lien; if the title is salvage or total loss and events resulting in towing or impounding.

Users purchase report credits to generate vehicle reports. The instaVIN app facilitates the purchase of additional credits and lets users examine their account history and past car reports.

So far, the app is available only on Apple devices: iPhone 3GS or higher, iPod and iPad.

instaVIN is based in San Diego, CA and provides vehicle information services for consumers, dealers, brokers or anyone else involved in used vehicle transactions. The company provides vehicle history reports, VIN decoding, a bill of sale service and finance center and works closely with NMVITS.

One of the biggest advantages of obtaining reports from NMVITS is the disclosure of 'brands' that get put on a title due to storm damage or other conditions and incidents in the vehicle's history that would make it less desirable.

The practice of 'brand washing' came from a car dealer taking the vehicle out of state to register it without a brand on it. Since NMVITS gets data from state DMVs, brand washing becomes ineffective. instaVIN gets NMVITS data almost as soon as it is posted, much faster than other services that take as long as several months to get updated.

instaVIN claims to have an advantage over a well-known report provider, CARFAX in terms of pricing.

According to CEO Jim Irish in a Yahoo article, "Users can compare instaVIN to CARFAX and save big." Individual reports are $6.99 for a full report and $2.99 for a Salvage and VIN check. Dealers can get volume pricing in bundles from 15 to 300 reports. instaVIN does not offer an unlimited bundle.”

Based on CARFAX pricing, it appears that instaVIN has a pretty good argument for its pricing claims. A single one-time CARFAX report is $39.99, a five report bundle costs $49.99 and the unlimited report bundle is $54.99.

CARFAX is only a better deal if you get an unlimited bundle and need eight reports or more. It appears that instaVIN is gambling that most used car purchasers don't request that many reports when shopping for cars. It's hard to say whether or not the tactic will work, since CARFAX is a very powerful brand in the industry, but it looks like instaVIN management at least did their homework.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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