How to Read a Window Car Sticker

windowstickerBuying a new car can be a stressful endeavor. From setting a budget and choosing a make and model to visiting dealerships and filling out the paperwork involved, it may be somewhat overwhelming!  No worries, because reading and understanding a new car window sticker can help to put the whole process into perspective.

Although these stickers can look really complicated, understanding them all comes down to knowing where to look for the information you’re trying to find. Most people know where to look for the price of the vehicle, but there is plenty of other useful information for buyers.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 key areas of a new car window sticker:

  1. Model Information – This area provides the basic information about the make and model of the vehicle. In addition, it provides details on the engine and transmission combination, interior and exterior colors, and trim level.
  2. Standard Equipment – This section highlights the features that are included in the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).  It includes such categories as Exterior/Interior, Safety and Security, Comfort/Convenience and Mechanical/Performance.
  3. Warranty Information – This part shows the specific warranty information for the vehicle, including bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties, roadside assistance packages and any other manufacturer’s offers that pertain to the particular make and model.
  4. Optional Equipment – This is where you will find information on the additional features included with the individual make and model you are checking out.  Sometimes, these features are bundled into packages or they can be added on separately based on your preferences. Be sure to check out all of the options available to you and closely examine the price of each.
  5. Pricing Information – This provides details of the base price of the vehicle and line-items all additional features and options.  In addition, this section will list any additional fees associated with the vehicle, like the cost of transporting the vehicle to the dealer and any gas-guzzler tax (levied on cars with a combined MPG of 22.5 or less).
  6. Parts Content Information – This area provides a breakdown of where parts were manufactured and where the vehicle itself was assembled.  Some stickers provide a part-by-part breakdown, while others provide a percentage for parts made in the US and Canada versus other countries.
  7. Total Price – This is where you will find the total MSRP for the vehicle. This is not always the final price you will pay, but can provide a good starting point for negotiation.
  8. Fuel Economy Label – Also called the EPS label, this section is where you will find estimates of the vehicle’s fuel economy – usually provided in both city and highway miles per gallon (MPG). With the cost of fuel today, this is probably the second most important section for new car buyers.
  9. QR Code – This section is fairly new, but allows buyers to scan the pixilated square with a smartphone to link them to a mobile EPA website.  Conveniently, buyers can get personalized fuel economy data based on their personal driving habits!
  10. Safety Ratings – This section contains the safety information for the vehicle. It typically contains the star-rating system for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and may also contain the scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Once you’re able to read and understand a new car window sticker, you will be a more informed buyer when the time comes for you to purchase a new car.

Did you find this analysis useful? Let us know in the comments down below! We always welcome your feedback!