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Here’s Why You Should Pay Attention To The Window Sticker When Getting A New Car

You’ve made the trek to the dealership. You’ve decided on the make and model of the car you’d like to buy. You have selected the color – interior and exterior. You even checked out everything, bumper to bumper. But did you check out the Monroney? That’s right, the Monroney.

No, it’s not an obscure car part that’s surreptitiously hidden from view. The Monroney sticker, a window label required in the United States to be displayed in all new automobiles, includes certain official information about the car. The sticker is  named after Almer Stillwell “Mike” Monroney, a United States Senator from Oklahoma who sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which mandated the disclosure of equipment and pricing information on new automobiles.

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The Cost Of No Sticker

A manufacturer that doesn’t display a Monroney on a car before delivery could be fined $1,000 for each offense. What if a dealership alters or removes the provided sticker? They could be looking at the same fine, up to a year in jail – or both. If the Monroney sticker is not displayed on the window of a car you’re interested in buying, ask the dealer to provide it for your review.

The addendum sticker, located next to the Monroney label on a car’s window, isn’t required by law but includes the dealer’s justification for the car’s total price. Addendum information can include fees for advertising the car, floor mats, or market adjustments (low supply vs. high demand), and other items that potential buyers can negotiate.

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Facts And Figures At Your Fingertips

Each window sticker includes a wealth of information that can help you determine if the car is right for you – and if it is indeed right for your budget.

Monroney window sticker information includes: prices, optional features and MSRP, total vehicle price, fuel economy information, government safety ratings, and manufacturer information.

Prices displayed on the Monroney detail the car manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), which may be listed as the “base price” or “standard price.” The dealership may price a vehicle higher or lower than the MSRP.

  • Optional features may be listed individually or packaged together.
  • The “total vehicle price” combines the MSRP, options, and a destination charge, also known as the shipping or delivery fee. The destination charge indicates the amount the dealer will pay the manufacturer for car delivery; this fee can’t be removed from the vehicle’s price.
  • Fuel economy information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates the number of miles per gallon (mpg) you can expect when driving on a highway, in the city, or a combination of both. The sticker also includes information on the annual fuel cost, as well as greenhouse gas ratings. Labels on electric and plug-in cars feature an MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) that indicates how electric fuel sources measure up to gas; hybrid vehicles include MPG information for gasoline use only.
  • Government safety ratings are based on crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Because the NHTSA tests only 90 to 150 annually, not every vehicle will display this information on its sticker. If the Monroney doesn’t include safety details, the sticker will display ratings for different crash scenarios such as rollovers, side impact, and front impact, as well as an overall safety score.
  • “Parts content information” highlights the manufacturing location of various car parts, including what percentage of parts came from the United States or Canada. This type of information is particularly helpful for buyers looking to buy American or who prefer auto parts from other countries such as a transmission from Germany or Italy.