App Review: VIN Hunter
In the car business or looking for your next ride? This application is for you.
VIN Hunter is a great solution to the problem of needing to decode and record vehicles without the use of the Internet. This means an inexpensive iPod Touch can be used as a powerful tool in the field without service plans or dedicated hardware. The detailed 150,000+ model database contains information on cars and trucks back to 1981 when the standardized VIN format was introduced. The database is updated as new vehicle models are released. With VIN Hunter you’ll always be up to date.
A fairly bold claim for an application weighing in at only 3.9 MB, but this application does indeed work offline providing you with a high amount of information about the car you are looking at, depending on its age as I found that a 1988 Ford Taurus didn’t offer me much more info than engine size and type, more modern cars did provide a high amount of information.
When you do have a car with lots of information various custom options are listed which you can tap to tick to match your record better with the car in front of you. Going even further on this front you can add notes and a single photo but not the license plate number, which I find a strange omission as two similar looking cars could easily crop up if you are fond of a certain modal and a license plate is easier to identify with than say the VIN number present that’s present on every record in the list view.
The best thing about this application is it’s use of the Internet. It has integration with CarFax providing you with easy access to records on the vehicles history, on tapping the history tab you are taken straight to their website in Safari, letting you either purchase the history or if you have a dealer account enter your account detail. However it could do with a built in web browser to tighten this integration and a function for dealers (in dealer mode hidden in your device’s settings) the option to store your account credentials to provide greater ease of access. It also has a “More” tab with a handful of related links such as review sites, ebay search for spare parts and a look up on nicb.org which checks the VIN you have entered for the car against their database to make sure it’s not been stolen or salvaged.
I would have liked to have seen the ability to store more than one photo, so say if you were a mechanic or valet you could document existing damage on receiving it into your care and prevent a disgruntled customer from pointing the blame at you. Normally I like developers to stick with existing design conventions but I think this application needs to buck the trend in regards to the keyboard it uses to enter the VIN. There is more than enough space available to let you have numbers above the standard keyboard and would save a lot of time flicking between normal and symbol/number view on the standard keyboard as symbols aren’t needed for a VIN. While the ability to email details about the vehicle you have decoded is appreciated it would be nice to be able to email singular records as well rather than sending your complete list.
The only size-able grip I can find with this app is it’s sluggish manipulation of camera images when taken in-app causing some erratic behaviour such as missing button bars and low responsiveness until you quit and start the application again and anything that is used for business should have a backup and restore function
- Works offline
- Space for notes
- Handy and relevant links
- CarFax integration for buyer and dealer…
The Not So Good
- …Needs built-in web browser to tighten it up
- One photo only
- Needs custom keyboard to hasten code entry
- No backup and restore
VIN Hunter Screenshots
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Reviewed by: TylerDurdan