Shopping for a used car can be a bit more complicated than buying a new car. There are more variables to take into account when determining which vehicles present a better value compared with others. Knowing the equipment and options on a car can be a key factor in your decision making, so I wish every automaker had an easy decoder like this independent site for Porsche models.
In a recent column, I discussed the challenges of deciphering the various options and packages on a used car. Knowing what a car does or does not have can often determine whether or not you want to buy it. Sometimes dealers can provide build sheets or window stickers for vehicles they have in stock, but buyers can’t always rely on that, especially if the car in question is being sold by a dealer of a different brand.
In shopping for various Porsches I have found a super valuable tool called VIN Analytics. With an easy copy/paste of the VIN of most modern Porsche models, I can get a detailed build sheet with all of the option codes as well as the original MSRP. I will note that while VIN Analytics will give you equipment details on vintage Porsche models, it won’t get you the original retail price.
Let’s say I am searching for a lightly used 911 Turbo. I come across this Certified 2017 Turbo with about 7,000 miles at an asking price of $134,000 car from a dealer in NYC.
If I want the details, I just copy the VIN from the listing, paste it in the website form, and boom — I can see it had an original MSRP of $163,065, and the factory options are listed.
Other than just identifying options, having this original window sticker prices can be crucial for determining value position on the market. For example, here is a similar Certified 2017 Turbo with just under 8,000 miles at an asking price of about $134,000.
However, when I drop the orange car’s VIN into the decoder I get a build sheet that originally totaled $177,560. Given that both cars are of the same year, have similar mileage and are Porsche certified, the value on the orange car is vastly better as that car has a specification that retailed for $14,495 higher.
All of this information is just a few clicks away, yet no other automaker offers this level of data for its vehicles that is as easy to access. Lexus and Toyota do have pretty good VIN decoders built into their websites, but they provide only the options and packages, not the original MSRP.
While I understand that Porsche buyers may be pickier than average when it comes to getting a car with a specific set of features, this type of tool would be a huge help to used-car buyers who are navigating the market. It would especially be valuable for anyone shopping for a pickup truck or a luxury model, vehicles that often have a maddening list of possible options and configurations.