A Car Pro Show
listener asked they question Saturday about why there were window stickers on cars, and why even bother putting a price on them. Great question, so here is a little history lesson for you:
Monroney Sticker History
Almer Monroney, who went by Mike actually, had almost as much impact on the auto industry as Henry Ford did, although Monroney never worked in the auto industry. He was, in fact, a politician. It was Monroney, a Senator from Oklahoma who in 1958 authored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act. From this action, it became a law that certain vehicle information must be affixed to the window of all new cars. It was the beginning of what we now know as the “window sticker” on new vehicles.
What Monroney Stickers Tell You
Most consumers who walk up to a new vehicle to look at the window sticker go straight to the price. When I attend auto shows or walk into dealerships, I do the same thing. It is what we are all most interested in, but the truth is, there is a lot more information you should be looking at as well.
For instance, a car’s window sticker will not only tell you the EPA fuel economy estimates, but you can learn the estimated annual fuel costs, and how the car you are looking at stacks up against the average of all cars regarding your annual cost of fuel. You get the city, highway, and combined mileage of the vehicle, except in the case of three-quarter ton and larger trucks which are exempt from the EPA rules.
If the vehicle has been crash rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
, those important ratings are on the window sticker too, with 5 Star being the top rating.
For those people interested in where the car was built and how many of the parts are made in America, that information is on the window sticker. I can also tell that Los Angeles, CA. was the final assembly point of the car.
On every window sticker, there are also details of the different coverage of the factory warranty, including the bumper-to-bumper warranty, the powertrain coverage, how long you have roadside assistance, and emission coverage.
Other important things to note are the standard and optional equipment that is listed. You want to make sure that all the options are there that are listed on the window sticker, especially things that are easily removed. For instance, if the window sticker calls for 20” chrome wheels, you want to make sure the vehicle has those on there, or the window sticker price is invalid.
You also want to make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the window sticker matches the actual VIN on the car itself. Sometimes dealers remove the window stickers on cars, then reattach them and they can get mixed up.
You hear me talk about rear axle ratios on the air all the time when talking to pick-up buyers. The axle ratio will be on the window sticker, which is the time to ask questions about whether the rear axle ratio is better for towing or fuel economy.
One new feature of window stickers is they have a QR Code on them you can read with your smartphone if you have a free app to read the codes. QR stands for quick response. Perhaps most helpful is that this code allows shoppers to instantaneously customize the information for their situation, for example, more accurate fuel economy estimates based on their driving habits or more accurate fuel cost estimates based on the gasoline prices in their area.
Mr. Monroney wanted to give prospective car buyers a way to truly compare models. He succeeded in doing that and the stickers have evolved and continue to offer more information so you can make a smart buying decision. Ask any car dealer if the window sticker is important, and they will tell you YES. The fine for offering a car for sale without a Monroney sticker is $10,000 per occurrence.