By on June 29, 2016

Ed Bolian VINwiki

Supposed cross-country record holder and leaky fuel-cell enthusiast Ed Bolian has released a new vehicle history app that aims to dethrone Carfax and bring vehicle history reporting into the hands of owners. The startup is appropriately named VINwiki and it bills itself as a social vehicle history reporting platform.

Knowing that vehicle history reports can be inaccurate, it’s always beneficial to have more data points when researching a car, but VINwiki appears to be less about verifiable vehicle history and more about car spotting and showing off your past and present rides.

The introduction video for VINwiki starts with Ed telling us about a Ferrari he previously owned that had been in an accident. He claims he disclosed the accident to the next owner when he sold the car, but when he checked the Carfax a few months later, he found that Carfax had suddenly decided that the car was totaled during the time he had owned it.

The video jumps to another one of the founders telling us that vehicle history reporting is broken and VINwiki is here to solve the problem. The case of the Ferrari is not closed and they do not explain how the app would have fixed the issue of what seems to be an inaccurate report. This type of inaccuracy can happen but in many cases it is the result of a devious seller.

It goes on to state that they are looking to create an app that acts like a social network for car owners that will also allow them to keep a virtual glovebox of service records and maintenance information. All information points to self-entered data and they do not explain how they aim to verify accuracy.

One of the big selling points is that current vehicle history services offer about 1,000 inputs for a given car record and their aim is to have millions of inputs for each of their records that can come from government sources as well as individuals.

VINwiki-review

The app was easily found in the App Store and seems to have positive reviews, including one from the founder himself. I downloaded it and signed up to try out a few history checks and, at the moment, it appears to only consist of the self-reported individual data. Picking a VIN for a car that has a salvage title and searching for it in the app yielded a “No Results” screen. It did, however, show similar cars that have already been entered into their system while I was typing it in, so salvage and accident records might be a future development.

VINwiki search

There is a very startup-type feel to the presentation and app. VINwiki seems to be using all the right buzzwords that VC’s are looking for, but their product seems flawed. Current vehicle history reporting services can be inaccurate, but they rely on information from auction houses and insurance companies that prevents owners from hiding accidents and salvage history. Allowing a car owner to self-report accidents and title issues creates a system that is ripe for abuse.

VINWIki-preview

The app seems to work well as a car spotting and tracking app, and the list feature did show off all the cars Ed has owned, but at this point I would not trust it for anything further. I reached out to Ed for a statement on how they plan to deal with the issues above but have not received a response at this time.

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