If you’ve ever looked at a new or pre-owned vehicle at an AutoNation retail center, then you’ve seen the above sticker plastered throughout the rows of cars and trucks on the lot.
Known as a window sticker — or Monroney sticker, after U.S. Senator Almer Stillwell “Mike” Monroney who fought for the passage of the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958 — this piece of paper is filled with vehicle information that’s important to your car or truck purchasing decision. Not all window stickers look exactly the same, but almost all window stickers contain the same useful information for consumers that is listed and explained below.
Model Information Section
This area reveals the model information of the vehicle you are looking at. It often contains the year, make, model, trim, engine and transmission, as well as interior and exterior colors.
Standard Equipment Section
This area displays the features that come standard with the vehicle you are looking at. It is often broken down by areas of the vehicle. Use this to compare standard features between multiple vehicles when shopping for a new or pre-owned car.
Warranty Information Section
All new vehicles come with some sort of warranty. Compare warranty coverage between multiple vehicles by looking at this section. Remember, not all warranties are the same. Take special note of how long and how many miles of coverage comes with your new or certified pre-owned car or truck’s warranty.
Options and Pricing Section
The base manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) is the price of the vehicle you’re looking at sans options. This are contains any options added to the vehicle you’re looking at, as well as the MSRP of these individual items. Finally, a destination charge is added. This charge covers the basic costs of bringing the vehicle to your local AutoNation retailer and is added by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Below that is a total MSRP that includes option prices and the cost of destination. If there’s an option on the car you’re looking at that you’d prefer not to have (or you’d like your car or truck to have), speak to a friendly AutoNation salesperson who can help you find the exact car you’re looking for.
Fuel Economy Section
This section comes courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation. Its numbers reflect expected city, highway, and combined fuel economy figures of the vehicle your are looking at. An annual fuel cost figure is also included, as well as a comparative fuel cost figure that notes the additional funds you’ll be spending on fuel over five years compared to the average new car on sale today. On top of this, the EPA adds a rating for fuel economy and greenhouse gases, and a rating for smog. These are labeled 1 through 10, with 10 being best. Environmentally conscious car shoppers will want to take these figures seriously, and compare these figures between vehicles.
Safety Ratings Section
If the car you’re looking at has been tested by the government for safety, the results of its crash tests are included in this section. Rated by stars, a vehicle that performs poorly at keeping occupants safe will receive as little as 1 star, while a vehicle that excels at keeping occupants safe will receive as high as 5 stars. The window sticker notes the safety rating of the vehicle overall, in a front-impact crash for both driver and passenger, side impact crash for both front and rear seat occupants, and the vehicle’s risk of rolling over. Ideally, the vehicle you’re shopping has 5 stars in all categories.