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Buying a Used Car in Wisconsin? Know Your Disclosure Rights

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Jun 28, 2024

So, you've set your sights on a shiny (or maybe not-so-shiny) used car in Wisconsin. Before you finalize the deal, it's crucial to understand Wisconsin's disclosure laws for used vehicle sales. Knowing what information the seller (dealer or private seller) must provide can help you make an informed decision and avoid unexpected problems down the road.

Disclosure Requirements for Dealers

Wisconsin takes used car sales seriously, especially when it comes to dealerships. Here's what dealers are required to disclose:

  • Vehicle History: Dealers must disclose any known prior accidents, major repairs, or flood damage the vehicle has sustained. This is typically done through a vehicle history report.
  • Condition: Dealers must inform you in writing (often through a window sticker called the "Wisconsin Buyers Guide") whether the vehicle is operational and meets safety standards. This includes things like functional brakes, lights, and emissions equipment.
  • Title Brand: The dealer must disclose any salvage titles or "branded titles" indicating the vehicle's history, such as being rebuilt after an accident.
  • Warranties: Dealers are required to clearly explain the terms of any offered warranties, whether manufacturer warranties or dealership-provided ones.

"As-Is" Disclaimer Doesn't Eliminate All Disclosures

Even if a car is sold "as-is," Wisconsin law still requires dealers to disclose defects that could affect the vehicle's safety or functionality. This protects you from unknowingly purchasing a car with serious hidden problems.

What About Private Sellers?

Private sellers aren't subject to the same strict disclosure requirements as dealerships. However, it's still recommended to get a vehicle history report and ask the seller detailed questions about the car's condition and history.

Tips for Used Car Buyers in Wisconsin:

  • Get a Vehicle History Report: Invest in a vehicle history report from a reputable provider. This can reveal accidents, repairs, odometer rollbacks, and other important information.
  • Take the Car for a Test Drive: This allows you to assess the vehicle's performance and identify any potential issues.
  • Have the Car Inspected by a Mechanic: A qualified mechanic can identify any underlying problems that might not be readily apparent.
  • Review the Paperwork Carefully: Before signing any paperwork, ensure you understand all the terms, conditions, and disclosures.
  • Don't Be Pressured: Take your time and don't feel pressured to rush into a decision.

By understanding Wisconsin's disclosure laws and following these tips, you can approach your used car purchase with confidence. Remember, a little due diligence can save you a lot of trouble (and money) in the long run!

Attorney Nathan DeLadurantey offers free consultations to explain your legal rights in Wisconsin. Free consultations can be scheduled online. 

About the Author

Nathan DeLadurantey

Nathan DeLadurantey ATTORNEY [email protected] Nathan is a skilled consumer lawyer who handles cases and trials all over Wisconsin. Phone consultations are always free and welcomed. Nathan has helped clients receive large jury verdicts and settlements stemming from consumer law violations, and is ready and able to assist.


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