Why Buy From A Dealer Vs. Private Party?
When buying a new vehicle… many people get the idea that buying from a dealer is not the wisest choice due to pricing. The impression is the dealers are only out to make a profit to cover the salesperson’s commission, inventory, the building, insurance, etc. These expenses are real; however, there is much more to it than that. Purchasing a vehicle from a licensed WI Auto Dealer may cost a bit more but provides you with a tremendous amount of protection and possible recourse.
Wisconsin is one of the most regulated states in the nation when it comes to automobile sales for dealers. When buying from a licensed Wisconsin dealer; you are protected by Wisconsin's Motor Vehicle Trade Practice Law. WI licensed dealers follow the law when they advertise, display, and sell vehicles. You will not get the same protection if you buy from a private party or from an out-of-state dealer. Private Party and other state’s dealer sales are considered “Buyer Beware” which means the consumer has absolutely no recourse if the motor should be bad, the frame should be rotten, or the title should happen to be branded. Its now your problem to deal with.
WI Licensed Dealers are required BY LAW to fully inspect every vehicle placed for sale. If everything on the WI Buyer’s Guide is not repaired; it MUST be disclosed to the buyer. This is NOT required by private party sellers or out-of-state licensed dealers.
Expect these advantages when you buy from a licensed dealer (taken from Wisconsin DOT website):
Expect ads to say what they mean and mean what they say. An advertised price will include all charges you'll pay to buy a car (except tax, title, registration and service fees). If an ad promises you a set price for your trade, you'll get that price for a trade of any age, condition, or mileage. You won't have to buy anything to get a gift offered "free" in an advertisement.
Accurate window labels:
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price Label (MSRP)
You'll find the "MSRP" label on the window of any new, executive, or demonstrator car offered for sale. It lists the following:
• Manufacturer's base price
• Standard equipment and manufacturer's optional equipment with prices
• Freight charge
• Suggested retail price
Cars may sell for more or less than the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
Dealer supplemental price label
You may also find a dealer supplemental price label on new cars. It lists optional equipment and services the dealer offers or has already installed.
Wisconsin Buyers Guide
Used cars display the Wisconsin buyers guide which gives the following information:
• How a vehicle was used (private use, business use, lease use, rental, etc.)
• Title brands (permanent brands that are on the title or will be on the next title)
• Make, year, model, identification number, engine size and transmission type
• Sold with remaining manufacturer's warranty, a dealer warranty or "As Is"
• Description of items dealer inspects
• Condition of the vehicle and its safety equipment, with defects explained
Dealers complete the guide based on a visual inspection and test drive. They must disclose any noticeable defects. However, they aren't required to take vehicles apart to check them.
New car warranty
All new cars carry a warranty, usually of at least 12 months and/or 12,000 miles. Tires, battery, and dealer-installed options may have separate warranties that differ in time and mileage. Read any warranties to find out what is covered and for how long, who will honor the warranty, and what you have to do to keep it in effect.
Wisconsin's new car Lemon Law
The Lemon Law protects you when you buy or lease new vehicles. It entitles you to a refund or replacement vehicle if, in the first year under warranty, your vehicle has a serious problem the dealer doesn't repair in four tries, or if it's out of service due to defects for a total of 30 days or more. Save your repair orders. For more information, call the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Dealer Section consumer hotline (608) 266-1425 or DealerLicensingUnit@dot.wi.gov.
Used car warranty
Read the Wisconsin buyers guide window label to find out if a used car has any dealer warranty or remaining manufacturer's new car warranty. Ask who will transfer any remaining manufacturer's warranty and who will pay any transfer fee. The dealer will show you a separate warranty document for any warranty listed on the label.
If you buy a car with no dealer warranty, it will be marked "As-Is" on the window sticker. "As-Is" means the dealer is not responsible for repairs the car needs later, even if the car comes with a manufacturer warranty.
A binding contract…You sign, you buy
Dealers use the "purchase contract" form when selling cars. Read and understand the contract before you sign. Once you and the dealer sign the offer, it becomes a binding contract. The dealer can't raise the price or sell the car to anyone else. You can't cancel the contract without a penalty.
The contract should include the following information about your purchase:
• Whether you're buying the car with a warranty or "As-Is"
• Date your vehicle will be delivered
• Other conditions of the sale. Get all promises in writing on the contract
Many consumers mistakenly believe they have three days to cancel the purchase contract. They do not. The 3-day "cooling off" period only applies to sales the dealer makes away from the dealership.
Get the price for your trade-in in writing on the contract. The price won't change unless you put on more miles than agreed to in the contract, remove parts, or damage the car before you trade it in. Protect yourself and the next owner by giving accurate information about your trade-in's mileage and condition, and how it was used.
You must display a license plate on all autos and light trucks. Your dealer will provide you with a temporary plate good for 90 days if you do not have a plate to transfer. Some dealers offer title and registration services that allow them to give you plates and stickers right away. If you choose this option, you will receive your title sooner than if your dealer mails your application. There is a fee for this service.
So when you're looking for your next vehicle... make sure to protect your investment by buying from a Licensed Wisconsin Auto Dealer.