How to Read a New Car Window Sticker

Shopping for a new car can be an exasperating process, especially if you don’t understand how to read a new car window sticker. Many people look at the sticker simply to find the price and leave it at that. However, the window sticker has a wide assortment of important information that can tell you a lot about the car and what it has to offer. There are 10 specific areas you should understand before buying a car.

Model Information

The top left or right corner usually has the model information. This will tell you the engine and transmission combination as well as the colors, years, and trim levels.

Standard Equipment

The “standard equipment” section list all of the features that come with the price of the vehicle. These include exterior, interior, safety/security, mechanical/performance, and comfort/convenience items.

Warranty Information

Pay special attention to the warranty information before buying a car. This sticker section will list the length of the car’s various warranties and assistance packages including maintenance programs.

Optional Equipment

Optional equipment includes factory-installed items that are useful for comparing to other items. These items often make the difference between buying specific vehicles over another.

Pricing Information

The pricing information breaks down the base price of the vehicle, the options, and all the fees that go into the pricing. These fees including destination charges, gas-guzzler taxes, and more.

Parts Content Information

The “parts content information” section lets the buyer know how much of the vehicle was built in America. Some stickers include percentages as well as listings of the various companies the parts came from.

Total Price

The total price of the vehicle is the manufactured suggested retail price, or MSRP. It is useful for negotiating pricing as this isn’t necessarily the price you must pay to get the car.

Fuel Economy Label

The fuel economy label is an estimate of the vehicle’s mpg efficiency. This is useful for people who are conscious of their fuel consumption due to a limited budget or concern for the environment.

QR Code

The QR code is a small, pixelated square that can be scanned by smartphones. It will give smartphone users an update on the vehicle’s stats.

Safety Ratings

Pay careful attention to this number as it tells you how safe the vehicle has been rated by the NHTSA. Some vehicles haven’t been tested that year so this spot may be blank. This doesn’t mean it is unsafe, simply untested.

Hopefully this new information will make car shopping easier for you. Consider talking to your car dealer if you forget or can’t understand the new car sticker information. It can help save you a lot of money and time.

December 22, 2012 by Jamie Rettig