Monroney Sticker & Window Sticker Explained by a Former Car Dealer

Written by Ray Shefska

My career in the retail automotive business started in 1977. Buying a car doesn’t have to be anxiety inducing, stressful, or painful. Instead it can be confidence inspiring, fun, and convenient. Let me show you how.

When it comes to cars, there’s a lot of jargon. So much so, that the already confusing process of buying a car, can get even more challenging for someone who isn’t well versed in automotive lingo. Throw in terms like monroney sticker, window sticker, and more on top of an already confusing subject matter, and you’re bound for frustration.

Fortunately, as with most things in life, these words and phrases aren’t actually as complex as they seem. Feeling confident when you buy a car is a must, and knowing the key words, phrases, and jargon that the dealer may throw around is a necessary step in that process.

Let’s explain the two terms above, the Monroney label, and the window sticker. Fortunately for you (as you’ll see in a moment), the two phrases refer to the same thing!

What is a car’s Monroney sticker?

This is a loaded question, but we have to ask it… Do you trust your average car salesperson?

Odds are, you don’t. When asked, “Rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields — very high, high, average, low or very low?” Gallup found that only 9% of Americans identify car salesmen as having a “high” or “very high” level of ethical standards. This was by far the lowest rating of all professions (even below “Members of Congress”). Ouch.

If you’re thinking about buying a car, you might enjoy this article if you haven’t read it already: How Much Do Dealers Markup Used Cars?

Why is this important? Because it is the entire reason Monroney stickers exist. A car’s Monroney sticker presents all of the features, options, and charges associated with every single new car in the United States. Before the Monroney sticker existed, customers had to trust the salesperson at the dealership to provide them with information about what a car included, and how much it cost. The Monroney sticker made that information accessible (and mandatory) for all new cars.

The Monroney sticker applies to all new cars sold in the United States. You’ll frequently also hear it referred to as a car’s window sticker. The two terms are synonymous.

Included on the Monroney sticker are key pieces of information. They include:

  • where the car was built (this goes so far as to provide the percent of country of origin for parts in the car, with the goal to provide the end user with the true amount of American based content in the vehicle.);
  • details about the car’s warranty;
  • engine specifications;
  • what options have been added (this only includes options from the manufacturer, any dealer installed accessories will be listed on a separate label next to the window sticker);
  • the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP);
  • the price of each individual option;
  • official EPA-endorsed fuel mileage data; and
  • crash test ratings.

As you can see, there is a lot of relevant information packed on the Monroney sticker, and again, with good reason!

Where did the Monroney sticker come from?

I remember the days before Monroney stickers existed… There was a time when Monroney stickers were only mandated for cars and not trucks. It really was like the wild west.

Who, or what is Monroney, and why is their name associated with all new cars sold in the United States? Oklahoma Senator Almer Stillwell “Mike” Monroney sponsored a bill called the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958. This bill would lead to the creation of the Monroney sticker once it was signed into law by then president Dwight Eisenhower.

Monroney was a pioneer for consumer safety. He also sponsored the bill that would eventually create the Federal Aviation Administration.

More in depth information on the legislation Monroney pursued can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch-32

What is included on a window sticker?

As mentioned above, Monroney, or window stickers are required to have the following information:

  • where the car was built (this goes so far as to provide the percent of country of origin for parts in the car, with the goal to provide the end user with the true amount of American based content in the vehicle.);
  • details about the car’s warranty;
  • engine specifications;
  • what options have been added (this only includes options from the manufacturer, any dealer installed accessories will be listed on a separate label next to the window sticker);
  • the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP);
  • the price of each individual option;
  • official EPA-endorsed fuel mileage data; and
  • crash test ratings.

Dealers are not permitted to remove, modify or alter these stickers in advance of selling a car.

How to read a cars window sticker

Now that you know that a window sticker is required by law on all new cars in the United States, you’ll certainly be looking for it during your next dealership visit. Edmunds.com provides a great overview of where to look for each piece of information on the window sticker. Click here to view that article.

Want to make car buying easy? Let us do the hard stuff! We’re former dealership employees that research, locate, and negotiate on your behalf. Chat with a car buying expert right now.

About Ray Shefska

My career in the retail automotive business started in 1977. Buying a car doesn’t have to be anxiety inducing, stressful, or painful. Instead it can be confidence inspiring, fun, and convenient. Let me show you how.

March 8, 2020

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