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What is a Window Sticker and What Information is On It?
Let's take a look at the origin of window stickers, what information they contain, and how that information can help you before finalizing a vehicle purchase.
What Is A Car Window Sticker?
Car window stickers are large, generally colorful labels put on vehicles that are for sale. These stickers are placed there by a car dealership and contain various pieces of information pertaining to the vehicle. The stickers are also referred to as "Monroney stickers", named for the U.S. senator who helped craft the law that created them.
These labels were first made in the 1950s as a way to combat arbitrary price changes amongst car dealers. Oklahoma senator Mike Monroney sponsored the legislation known as the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which set out the requirements for what information these stickers would display.
In the most recent update to car window stickers, legislators mandated in 2013 that all cars made after that year would need labels specifying whether the vehicle had alternative fuel or propulsion requirements. Any electronic vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, flexible-fuel vehicles, and natural gas vehicles would require this updated label.
What Information Can You Find
From A Car Window Sticker?
Car window stickers show several essential pieces of information, including:
- Model Information And Standard Equipment
- Optional Vehicle Equipment
- Federal Safety Information
- Destination Charge and MSRP
- Fuel Economy and Environmental Information
- Parts Content Data and Addendums
- Warranty Info
- Shipping and Manufacturing Data
Every vehicle you purchase from a dealership should have a Monroney sticker. Not only are these required by law, but the information contained within this label is necessary for determining certain factors related to the car buying process.
You can use a Monroney sticker to match the car to its serial number and ensure everything fits with the associated paperwork. Make sure to check all the information on the label carefully; to do this, you need to understand what each section of the sticker means.
Model Information And Standard Equipment
A large section of the window sticker will be taken up by information about the car's standard equipment. This is also where you can find the vehicle's serial number, make and model, as well as the interior and exterior color scheme.
You can use this information to help verify the car matches the paperwork. For example, if the sticker says the car is painted black but you can clearly see it's paint is white, bring this up to your car dealer.
Optional Vehicle Equipment
Optional equipment will usually increase the price of the vehicle you intend to purchase, and the window sticker will show you what the dealer claims is installed. Make sure to check through these items carefully and confirm each feature you are paying for has been installed on the vehicle.
Many different pieces of equipment qualify as optional, including:
- Upgraded sound systems
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Automatic braking systems
- Navigational system
- Tire pressure monitor
- Multi-zone climate systems
- Surround view cameras
- Temperature-controlled seats
- Wi-Fi hotspot
- Blind spot early warning system
- Sun or moonroof
Optional additions can also be more traditional equipment, like new tires, window tint, or upgraded rims. Accessories like this will likely be placed in a separate column so you can confirm them item by item. Check this column carefully, and make sure that the car only comes with the equipment you require; dealers will often add extraneous items to raise the price artificially.
Federal Safety Information
Part of the window sticker will be taken up by a section detailing safety ratings. Created by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), these ratings cover the safety capabilities of the vehicle in three impact categories: frontal, side, and rollover. Each will have its own individual rating, and another section will have the overall average of the three displayed above.
Check to see that the car has the proper safety rating for your needs. Those with families likely want a car with better safety ratings so that they can be protected in the case of an accident. Ensuring the sticker matches the vehicle, and making sure that the safety ratings are accurate, is vital to guarantee the safety of you and your loved ones.
Destination Charge and MSRP
The destination charge is the buyer's part of the cost incurred by delivering a vehicle to a dealership. Transporting the car from its manufacturer or assembly plant costs money, and you will share that equally with the dealer. This will be listed separately from the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP, is the cost assigned by the manufacturer to the car. The MSRP is what manufacturers recommend dealers sell the vehicle for, but some dealers will charge more or less depending on incentives, discounts, equipment, and other factors. For example, if the car model in question is in high demand, dealers will charge extra to balance that supply and demand.
Fuel Economy and Environmental Information
In the upper right corner of the window sticker, you should see the environmental protection agency's estimation for the vehicle's fuel economy. The fuel economy is a value referring to the number of miles a car can travel on a given amount of fuel. This number is usually represented by miles per gallon, or MPG, in gas-powered vehicles and miles per gallon gas equivalent, or MPGe, for electric cars.
This section will also show what the greenhouse gas rating and annual fuel cost estimates are. If the car is an electric vehicle, there will be information related to charging costs, estimated charge times, and anything else related to EVs specifically.
Every Monroney sticker should have the car warranty information clearly listed. A car warranty is a vehicle service contract where the manufacturer agrees to fix broken or defective parts caused by the factory. Depending on the defect, you should be able to get these parts repaired or replaced for free.
Shipping and Manufacturing Data
This section will show the location where the vehicle was manufactured and where its central components were shipped from. This part of the label will also feature location data about different places the car has been delivered to.
You'll want to check this section for abnormalities, but you don't need to worry too much. If the delivery info and dealership don't match, that isn't necessarily a red flag; dealerships often trade new cars amongst themselves to match customer demand.
Parts Content Data and Addendums
This section is designed to let you know how many of the car parts were manufactured in the United States. If the parts were made outside the U.S., this area of the sticker would show the countries those parts originated from. It will also show the vehicle's final assembly point.
The addendums section is for any mark-ups, also known as a dealer market adjustment. A dealer market adjustment is an addendum some dealerships add to increase the price of a car based on demand. This label section will also show any other additional charges, which can be added for various reasons. The reason additional charges were added must be listed by law, so check this area if you think you are being charged unnecessarily.
All the relevant information contained on a window sticker can be derived from the VIN using a VIN lookup tool.
What is a VIN?
A VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a 17 character combination of numbers and letters that serves as your vehicle's serial number. You can use your VIN for several different purposes, including looking up the information you would normally find on a Monroney window sticker.
No two VINs (within a set multi-decade time range) can be the same, so your car's VIN will be completely unique. Much like a window sticker, a VIN will contain numerous important details about your vehicle, including:
- The manufacturer
- The location the car was built
- The car's brand
- Trim, engine size and type
- A manufacturer verification code
- Country of origin
You can usually find the VIN number on the driver's side dash in the form of a small engraved metal plate. It may also be on the inside of the driver's door, near where the door latches closed. The issue comes when you haven't purchased the vehicle yet; some dealers may not allow you in the car to find the VIN, which may prevent you from using it to look up the window sticker information.
A VIN lookup can provide all the essential details about your potential purchase. Without these details, you may not be able to verify some aspects of the car's paperwork. This makes you vulnerable to scammers, and you could end up purchasing a damaged or stolen vehicle.
Car Window Sticker Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Car Window Sticker?
A car window sticker, also known as a Monroney label, is a sticker placed on the window of cars put up for sale. These labels contain data related to the vehicle, including information about the model, equipment, fuel economy, safety, warranty, manufacturing, and price.
Why Are Window Stickers Called "Monroney Labels"?
Car window stickers are sometimes referred to as "Monroney Labels" due to the man responsible for creating them, Oklahoma state senator Mike Monroney. Monroney sponsored the legislation known as the Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which required dealers to include these stickers and regulated which information the labels would contain.
Why Do Cars Have Window Stickers?
Vehicles sold in the United States are required to have window stickers by law. This is due to the Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which was passed to combat the rising frequency of fraud in the automobile sales industry. The stickers as a way to combat arbitrary price changes placed by car dealers, so citizens could get a fair deal on their automobile.
How Do I Remove The Sticker From The Window?
While some car window stickers will come right off or be placed in a plastic protective coating, some tips to remove any adhesive sticker from your car window include: Try a window cleaner spray to loosen up the adhesive material, and use a sharp blade like a razor to slowly chip away at the sticker. Rubbing alcohol can also help melt the glue, as well as ice or WD-40. Be careful when scraping at the sticker, as this could damage your windshield.
Where Do You Find A Car Window Sticker?
A window sticker should be displayed prominently in a car's window. There is no regulation to where the sticker can be placed, so it may be in the driver's side or passenger side window. If you don't see the sticker displayed clearly, ask a staff member at the car dealership where you can find it.
How Do I Get A Car Window Sticker?
A car window sticker should automatically be provided with any new vehicle being sold in a dealership. If for some reason a vehicle you've purchased does not have a car window sticker, you can find one with a label lookup service. All you need is the vehicle's VIN, which can be found with a VIN lookup.
Can You Look Up A Window Sticker With A VIN?
You can look up a window sticker with a VIN number, but you may need to look up the VIN first to accomplish this. GoodCar provides lightning-fast VIN lookup and can find a wide variety of details about any vehicle you may be considering for purchase.
We can find recalls, residual value, and comprehensive vehicle history reports for you at the click of a button. So if you want to find your VIN and get that window sticker information, let us help. Try GoodCar today!
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