Expert gives advice on how to read a new car sticker

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Every car on a car dealer's lot has it's own color features and price, but one thing they all have in common is a window sticker designed to tell you everything you need to know - if you know what to look for.

"This is a hot bed of discussion in Washington. What should be on it and what needs to be left off it," said Phil Reed of

Phil Reed makes his living writing about cars and has broken down what numbers mean on the piece of paper stuck on every new car window. Reed says the local car dealer doesn't have anything to say about that window sticker. It's all federally mandated and on the car when it arrives on the lot.

"So it makes a handy tool for reference, plus it breaks out all the options," said Reed.

One sticker the WMBF News Network found listed 50 different features - from standard equipment and exterior items. The sticker also had listings for the EPA estimated gas mileage for city and highway, but Reed says the number that appears in the middle is what you should look at.

"In reality, the smaller figure here is what's most valuable. This is the combined mileage and this is probably what you're going to get," said Reed.

The car stickers also use a star system to rate how well the car did in crash and rollover tests, and they can even tell you where the car originally came from.

"It will also tell you where the car was built, in other words, what city it was built in. It will also give you environmental information. This is fairly new and this is very important for some shoppers," said Reed.

The car sticker will also have emission figures, including a smog and global warming score. The most important item that many people are interested in knowing is the manufacturers suggested retail price, better known as the sticker price.

"So this is a handy reference. You need to know that they're going to refer you to this, this is going to be their starting point, so you need to be prepared for that," said Reed.

The last tip that Reed gives is to be prepared to haggle over the price. Reed says you should expect to pay below the sticker price for most cars, as the sticker price is only a suggestion attached to the car window.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.