Sticker shock may be replaced with a measure of sticker relief, as U.S. car buyers soon will be able to view vehicle crash ratings along with pricing and estimated fuel economy in the showroom.

Vehicle manufacturers will be required to display the government’s star safety ratings on pricing stickers for all new cars, SUVs and minivans by Sept. 1, 2007, for all ’08 models.

The new rule announced this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. requires auto makers to post safety ratings for front and side crashes, and non-destructive rollover tests. All three tests use the 5-star rating, with five stars indicating the highest level of safety.

The new rules do not include pickup trucks, but NHTSA expects OEMs voluntarily will display the rankings anyway. The new rule allows for a smaller safety-rating label for vehicles not yet tested by NHTSA.

Several auto makers already post star ratings, either on the stickers and/or in various advertisements touting safety. NHTSA also displays crash ratings on an affiliated website.