Understanding a Car's Sticker Price
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated August 9, 2012)
For some reason, one of the more confusing aspects of buying a new car for most people is trying to understand a car's sticker price. The reason for this is that most stickers, while they look rather straight forward, are actually somewhat confusing with all of the fine print, the overly exact wording, and so on. Instead of simply assuming that you know what a sticker price is saying, actually take the time to learn best way to decode it. It's not particularly difficult, as long as you keep a few simple guidelines in mind.
- Sticker price. The sticker price is usually what most people first notice when looking at the sticker on a car that is being sold. After all, it is pretty hard to miss with it usually being one of the larger items listed on the sticker. Typically, this sticker price will include items such as the delivery charge (what was charged to the dealer by the manufacturer for delivery of the vehicle), the cost of the standard vehicle, as well as any other options and additions that may have been included by the dealership itself.
- MSRP. The acronym MSRP stands for "Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price," and basically is what the manufacturer of the vehicle hopes and expects the vehicle to sell for. This price is important to look at for one very, very, important reason which is to compare it with the sticker price listed above. If you notice a difference between the two (and it seems suspiciously large) then you absolutely need to talk to the dealer about it, find out the reason for the discrepancy, and get it in writing. This difference can often be a huge asset when it comes time to negotiate what you pay.
- Car information. One of the most basic, and vital, pieces of information that you can find on the car sticker, is the general car information. This information is typically things like the make, model, and year of the car for a start. In addition to this basic information, you should also find the VIN number (which is mandatory in many parts of the country), as well as the manufacturing point of origin for the vehicle, and what percentage of the car was assembled where.
- Additional information. In addition to the general car information that is detailed above, you can often find other bits of information on the sticker. This other information can (and often should) include such topics as the type of engine, transmission, and even the drivetrain that the car has. Furthermore, this part of the sticker should information about the average miles per gallon that the vehicle gets, as well as any warranties that come with the vehicle, the average estimated cost in fuel (at the current rate) and so on.