Skip to Main Content

Dealer sticker price

Dealer sticker price is a term every consumer should understand. Bankrate explains it fully.

What is dealer sticker price?

The dealer sticker price is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) plus the suggested retail price of options installed on the vehicle by the dealer. For many car buyers, the dealer sticker price is a starting point for negotiating the final cost of the vehicle.

Deeper definition

In the United States, the law requires car and truck dealers to post a sticker in the window of each new vehicle they have for sale on the lot. Named after the senator who sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, the Monroney sticker includes the MSRP, engine and transmission specifications, a list of standard equipment and warranties, optional equipment, and fuel economy. The Monroney sticker does not have to specify dealer-added options, so the dealer sticker price may be listed on a different sticker.

The dealer sticker price is not the same as the dealer invoice price, which is what the dealer paid for the vehicle. Dealers receive discounts through bonus programs, incentives and holdbacks that reduce their cost. This is important for buyers to understand because dealers do not want to take a loss on the vehicle. Since the dealer cost varies, the actual sale price of the vehicle also varies from dealership to dealership. Other factors affect the dealer’s willingness to negotiate, including the length of time the vehicle is for sale, the color and options, region and corporate policies.

Dealer sticker price example

As they walk around a new car lot, buyers should see a window sticker on each vehicle that shows how much the dealer is asking for the vehicle. For example, the sticker may show that the base price of the vehicle is $20,000 and that the dealer applied a stain-proofing product on the interior and added premium wheels, which brings the price up to $25,000. The buyer may ask the dealer to remove the wheels and replace them with the set that originally came with the car to reduce the price to $21,000, or the buyer may choose to negotiate a better price for the wheels, bringing the final cost to $22,500.

Figure out how much your payments will be for your new car using Bankrate’s auto loan calculator.

More From Bankrate

  • Placeholder image

    VW to buy back diesel cars

    Volkswagen reaches a tentative agreement to buy back diesel cars that are part of an emissions-standards scandal and give "substantial compensation" to car owners.

    1 min read Apr 21, 2016
  • sticker price

    What is sticker price?

    There is a price posted on the window of a new car which is the dealer’s ultimate asking price.

    Jan 09, 2014
  • dealer holdback

    What is a dealer holdback?

    If a car dealer is telling you they’re selling you a vehicle below cost, don’t feel sorry for them.

    Sep 01, 2013
  • Placeholder image

    What is MSRP?

    The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is not necessarily what you have to pay for a new vehicle.

    Jun 29, 2013