How to Read a Window Sticker

October 1st, 2020 by

We’ve all seen window stickers, how do you read one?!

How to read a window sticker

overview

If you ever find yourself walking around a dealership lot, you’ll come to realize that nearly every vehicle has something in common. You’ll notice that they all have a big sheet of paper displayed on the vehicle’s window that is full of information. In most cases, this sticker is known as a ‘Window Sticker’ and it its inception dates back to the 1950s. The window sticker idea was spearheaded by an Oklahoma senator who wanted there to be transparency in pricing for new cars. This idea then became a congressional act that standardized some of the basic information on the window sticker to better benefit consumers in the car buying process. Some of the common standardized information you’ll find on a window sticker would be standard vehicle equipment, optional/additional features added to the car, the destination charge, federal safety information and also fuel economy/electric vehicle numbers as mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Now that you’ve gotten a small history lesson on the window sticker, let’s dive into details of everything you’ll find in each section of the sticker.

Standard & Optional Equipment

This part of the window sticker is probably one of the most crucial areas, given the amount of space it takes up is more than half the entire sheet. The “Standard Equipment” part of the window sticker is the part that will showcase things like ‘push to start,’ ‘Apple CarPlay’ and anything else you can expect to see in the interior or exterior. Along with that, you can expect to find information like the make/model of the car, the serial number and of course the color of the interior and exterior. On the other side you’ll find the “Optional Equipment” column which will list how much a car manufacturer suggests the dealer charges for the features installed on the car. It’s important to go through all of the information on there to make sure the vehicle that you’re paying for comes with the items listed on the window sticker.  

Apple Car Play
& Android Auto

Fuel Economy & Environment

If you shift your attention the upper right corner of the window sticker, you’ll find the EPA’s estimated fuel economy on your vehicle. Along with that you’ll see data that has the estimated miles per gallon, annual fuel cost estimates and even a greenhouse gas rating for your personal reference. You may be wondering what kind of information can be expected on an electrified vehicle such as plug-in hybrids and EVs. These cars will display separate data to provide an estimate of how much it will cost to charge, the vehicle’s miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe), estimated charging times and more! One thing to note is that the information on this section is based on tests and situations put together by the EPA, which means that results may vary depending on driving habits & environmental conditions.   

Safety Ratings

Every vehicle has been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and you’ll be able to see its safety ratings on the lower right section of the window sticker. While the information on the window sticker is very simple, you can find much more detailed information on the NHTSA’s website, if you wish to compare vehicles based on their safety rating even further. If you want to have a more comprehensive understanding of your vehicle’s safety rating, then check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing.

Fuel economy ratings

Manufacturing / Shipping Data / Parts Content Information

Another important piece of information on the window sticker is the information that describes where the vehicle was assembled and where some major components were built. You can also find the name of the dealership where the car was first delivered, it may be different than the dealership where you’re buying it because sometimes dealerships will trade new cars with one another. The last noteworthy mention is the Parts Content Information on the window sticker, which drills down to a percentage of how much of the car’s content comes from the U.S. or the vehicle’s country of origin. The last bit of information on that section will be the car’s final point of assembly, which may be crucial for buyers interested in cars built in specific countries.  

Addendums

Last on our list of window sticker information is the Addendum section. This spot on the window sticker is a dedicated spot for any and all additional accessories that may be added to the vehicle by the dealership. Some of these additional accessories are usually window tint and upgraded wheels and tires. If and when there is a highly desirable vehicle that is on high demand by consumers, then consumers may add a mark-up price which can also be found on the addendum.

read the addendum

summary

Overall, the window sticker on a new car is intended to help you as the consumer to get a comprehensive understanding of the vehicle you are looking to purchase. Since the window sticker became available, it has helped consumers know exactly what to expect from their purchase and has helped dealerships, like ourselves, find the perfect car for you. If you find yourself browsing our new car inventory on BillLukeTempe.com and come across a car that interests you, then be sure to click on the icon that says ‘Window Sticker’ for more information on the vehicle!

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