State Regulations in Wisconsin
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1. Start Your Quote:
- Read the Safety Record
- Learning What to Look For
- Transfer the Title and Register the Vehicle
- Title Transfer
- Vehicle Registration
- Where to Title and Register
- It's All In the Paperwork
- After You Register
- Buying or Selling a Car Without a Title
- Buying or Selling a Car Without Registration
Buying a new or used car is not just an investment for many people; it's a big deal, a large transaction, and an exciting time. Americans rely on motor vehicles to safely transport us to and from work and to carry our families in comfort and care.
As much as we want to enjoy our vehicles, it's important to remember that safety should be the top priority. When the weather turns stormy and the snow piles up, it's much more important to arrive safely and warmly than it is to have a built-in DVD player.
There are lots of cars that are safe and reliable; unfortunately, there are more than a few clunkers out there, too, sporting a nice paint job and a few extra dazzling goodies. With the winter weather in Wisconsin, reliability is important. Getting stalled or breaking down in late January can be more than just an inconvenience, it can be deadly.
If you're buying a vehicle from an individual, it's especially important for you to look into a vehicle history report.
The first, foremost, and best advice to remember when car shopping is to buy from a reputable dealer.
That does not mean that you can't get a good, safe car from a private party―you can. But, before you hand over the money, be sure to have it examined by a reputable mechanic. It may cost you a few bucks, but in the end, it will be worth every penny.
Remain detached. No matter how sweet the ride looks or feels. Think, at least right now, of safe and reliable transportation that will continue to run well when the weather gets cold.
This is the two-part procedure that must be done with any vehicle sold in Wisconsin, and it must be done immediately. The title transfer is the official change of ownership from the seller to the buyer. The registration is the purchase of license plates and the annual renewal of the plates.
The title transfer means that the legal owner and responsible party switches from the seller to the buyer. A title transfer is a one-time transaction, done when a vehicle is bought or sold.
You may choose to add another owner to your title, or, if you secure a loan and use the vehicle as collateral, you may enter a lien on the title. Once any loans are paid off, you may request a replacement title be issued with the lienholder omitted.
Registering a vehicle is the transaction that makes the vehicle legal with the state of Wisconsin. Registration prices vary depending on the vehicle, so be sure to verify your fees before heading out.
You must also purchase license plates for the vehicle if you do not already own license plates. If you have ordered specialty or personalized plates, you may purchase temporary plates from the DMV or from one of these private agencies authorized to issued temporary license plates.
If you live in any of the following counties you will need to have the vehicle's emissions tested:
You'll get a certificate if the vehicle passes. This is required of all motor vehicles made in model year 1968 or newer. If the emissions test is required at the time of the sale, it is the responsibility of the seller to take care of the testing. The testing, however, is always done free of charge.
If you purchase a vehicle from a private party, you are required to take the paperwork into the DMV. If you purchase a new or used vehicle from a dealership, the dealership is required to take care of the paperwork within seven days of the sale of the vehicle. Most motor vehicle registration renewals can be taken care of by U.S. mail and renewal can be done online.
When you are buying or selling a used vehicle, the most important thing to remember, after the safety and mechanical concerns, is that of a clear title.
Before you give the seller any type of payment, be sure that all of the paperwork is in order. Here are the three biggest things to look for:
- A Bill of Sale or other documents showing the purchase price of the vehicle, signed by both buyer and seller.
- The Certificate of Title, signed in the proper place by the seller, with the correct odometer reading entered in the available box on the title certificate.
- If there is a lien showing on the title and it is not stamped "paid" and signed by the loan company, do not pay the seller until the release can be proven.
In some cases, the title may not have been available at the time it was paid off. In that case, a letter would have been prepared on the loan company letterhead with detailed information about the loan and the vehicle. If the seller cannot produce any information about the finalization of the loan, you will not be permitted to transfer the title or register the vehicle.
Once you have filed paperwork with the DMV, paid all of the necessary fees, and been issued your temporary license plates, the DMV will send the title and license plates to you in the mail. You will also receive notice from the DMV by mail when it comes time to renew your registration in a year.
You cannot sell a vehicle without a title. Responsibility falls on the seller for obtaining a title, regardless of whether he or she has ever driven the vehicle.
Before initiating a sale, the seller must complete a Wisconsin Title & License Plate Application and pay a $20 fee to replace a lost title or $45 to title the vehicle in the seller's name for the first time. The seller can then sign over this title document to the buyer.
A vehicle does not have to be registered to be sold. If you're the buyer, you will need to obtain either temporary or permanent license plates within two days of purchasing the car. You can do this at any DMV office. Temporary plates cost $3.
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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.