UPDATE: I have been working towards using smart phones instead of the scanners to lower the cost. Check out the instructions for the android phones here.
I was looking at the statistics for this site and noticed that I get a lot of google and yahoo searches for “vin scanners” so I thought I would do a post on what I have learned about this up-and -coming development at least as it pertains to auto transporters. Although the scanners that have this capability have been around for a while we are now seeing the price get down where it is effective to equip individual trucks with them where we used to see them primarily at auction gates for check-in or exit. The problems with the most inexpensive units is two-fold. First many of them are attached to the device by a cord so you need to carry the laptop or notebook that receives the data out to the vehicle. Secondly some of the manufacturers placed the vin barcode under the glass of the windshield and the reflection stops many of them from retrieving the data. We have not figured out a way to tell if a particular model can penetrate the glass or not by looking at the specifications so before you buy you need to have it tested. I had a fellow that was looking at some refurbished scanners on ebay and the seller was happy to go out and scan the barcode on his chevrolet for us but not all sellers are that accommodating. Stepping up to the bluetooth connections fixes the portability problems especially if you get one that will store the data if you are out of range.
Another discovery was the extra digits stored in the vin barcodes for some vehicles. When I scan the barcode on my pickup I get “I1B7MF3361XJ503719” And on my car I get “KLAVB69272B324911”. As you can see the pickup has 18 digits instead of 17 that you read when you look at it. The car however has a clean 17 digit vin in the barcode. We have found some with 19 digits. It isn’t a big deal unless you are trying to match it up with something in a database like a dealer stock or vin decoding software. In EZDispatch the vin gets run through a program that finds the valid vin and scrubs the excess digits so the decoding programs can determine year make model and weight.