By the Numbers: VINs and Parts Do Not Always Match

In early 2020, AGRR magazine explored the disconnect between vehicle identification numbers (VIN) and the NAGS numbers they identify. These issues have persisted into 2021.

“I think our software probably doesn’t have all the correct information that the dealers have,” says Rick Valentine, owner of Intermountain Auto Glass in Boise, Idaho. He has noticed an issue with incorrect parts numbers for the past four to five years. His shops get three sources to confirm the part number with a VIN: PGW, Mygrant, and RepairLink. He says incorrect identification of parts by VIN does not happen as often as it used to. Valentine estimates his technicians receive the wrong part number about 2 percent of the time.

Sometimes multiple part numbers are provided, Valentine says, even though, in theory, there should be only one part number associated with a particular VIN. “If all three sources [PGW, Mygrant, and Repairlink) show the same part number, and I feel we’re good to go,” he says. However, if a discrepancy exists, then a technician calls the manufacturer and checks with the NAGS listing. “It’s just very time-consuming,” he says.

Valentine does not see the issue going away soon. “It’ll only get worse,” he says because vehicles are becoming more complicated. Twenty years ago, a Chevy truck had one windshield option. Today, a Chevy truck may have multiple options for installation. “We really try to make sure we get the correct part.”

“The dealership is more accurate, but they’re not 100%,” says Damien Butterfield, owner of Expert Auto Glass, which has locations in North Dakota and Utah. The NAGS listing of a part for a VIN is wrong 10% of the time for his shops. “They’ve been wrong enough to where it’s frustrating,” Butterfield says.

Butterfield says calling manufacturers to ensure obtaining the correct windshield part number does not always help. For example, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has 40 different windshield options, and a manufacturer will not know a vehicle just by the VIN. When Expert Auto receives the wrong part, Butterfield says they try to get the right part. VIN issues have been “a real issue” for the last two years. “It’s the lack of communication between NAGS and dealer’s parts catalogs,” Butterfield says.

Expert Auto technicians have VIN decoders to pull through dealers’ catalogs, though they also receive incorrect information on VINs. The NAGS listing will provide the correct windshield size, but the windshield will not align with the vehicle’s ADAS options in the shop.

“[The NAGS listing information is] an issue that everybody has,” Butterfield says.

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