Wisconsin Automobile Dealer Record Requirements

Wisconsin auto dealer record requirement

Wisconsin requires automobile dealers to maintain specific records related to the acquisition, sale, exchange and financing of automobiles.  This article will briefly identify the specific records Wisconsin retail automobile dealers are required to maintain, the manner in which those records must be maintained, the location at which the records must be maintained, and the time period the records must be maintained.

Wis. Admin. Code § Trans. 138.04, an administrative rule promulgated by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, sets forth the record keeping requirements for Wisconsin retail and wholesale automobile dealers.  That rule establishes the minimum records dealers must maintain as they relate to the following categories: ownership records, consignment sales documents, vehicle condition disclosures, odometer disclosure statements, contracts and the dealer record book.  The record keeping requirement for each category will be discussed below.

I. Ownership Records

  • The title for each used automobile owned and offered for sale by the automobile dealer
  • The automobile manufacturer’s statement of origin for each new automobile owned and offered for sale by the automobile dealer
  • The factory invoice, a completed dealer reassignment form or a purchase contract evidencing the trade-in or purchase—for each new automobile offered for sale by the automobile dealer where the manufacturer or a lending institution is holding the automobile title or manufacturer’s statement of origin to ensure payment at the time of sale
  • A copy of the automobile title—if the automobile is a manufacturer’s buy-back pursuant to Wisconsin’s lemon law, and the automobile manufacturer holds the title to the automobile

II. Consignment Sale Documents

  • The written consignment agreement between the automobile’s owner and the dealer—for each automobile not owned by the dealer and offered for sale by the dealer
  • Each consignment agreement must include the following:
    • The name of the automobile consignor-owner and the consignee-automobile dealer
    • The date of the consignment
    • A description of the automobile, including the make, year, identification number, a description of the automobile’s prior use and an odometer disclosure statement
    • The terms of the consignment agreement, including the duration of the agreement, the minimum price at which the automobile dealer is authorized to sell the automobile, the disposition of any monies received above the minimum sales price and the amount of the automobile dealer’s commission
    • A statement by the automobile’s owner that the automobile is clear of any liens or a statement identifying the lienholder and the outstanding loan balance
    • An agreement between the automobile owner and the dealer providing that the dealer will hold the automobile’s title—or a copy of both sides of the title—for inspection by prospective purchasers during the consignment period, and that the title reassignment by the owner will not be signed until the automobile is actually sold
    • An agreement between the automobile owner and the dealer providing that the dealer will promptly return the automobile and title to the owner if the automobile is not sold during the consignment period
    • The automobile owner’s and dealer’s signatures
  • Copies of any documents required pursuant to Wis. Admin. Code § Trans. 138.04, the Wisconsin administrative rule regulating consignment vehicles

III. Vehicle Condition Disclosures

  • The written vehicle condition disclosure, also referred to as the Wisconsin Buyers Guide, required to be provided to prospective purchasers by Wis. Admin. Code § Trans. 139.04(4)
    • This rule requires automobile dealers to disclose, among other things, all significant existing mechanical, electrical and electronic defects and damage, and evidence of repair to the strut tower, trunk floor pan, frame or structural portion of unibody, including corrective welds

IV. Odometer Disclosure Statements

  • The odometer disclosure statement from the prior owner and the subsequent purchaser, as required pursuant to Wis. Admin. Code § Trans. 139.04(7), the Wisconsin administrative rule governing mileage disclosures

V. Contracts

  • The original or a copy of all automobile purchase contracts, as required by Wis. Admin. Code § Trans. 139.05, the Wisconsin administrative rule governing motor vehicle purchase contracts, and all purchase orders and invoices
  • A copy of the MV1 or MV11, Wisconsin title, registration or license plate application forms, completed for each automobile purchaser as additional evidence of sale, and information regarding collection of sales tax and Wisconsin title and registration fees
  • A copy of any superseding contract

VI. Dealer Record Book

  • The following information must be retained—either electronically or via a permanently bound book—on every used automobile, including executive and demonstrator automobiles, bought, sold, exchanged or consigned:
    • The date the automobile was acquired
    • The name and address of the individual from whom the automobile was acquired
    • The year, make and vehicle identification number of the automobile
    • The date of the disposition of the automobile
    • The name and address of the individual to whom the automobile was transferred
  • Dealer Record Book records maintained electronically must meet the following requirements:
    • All of the information identified above must be incorporated into one electronic record
    • All initial purchase entries must be made as soon as the automobile is acquired, and sales information must be completed on the same record at the time of sale
    • The information must be accessible for inspection and retrievable electronically by the date acquired, the name of person from whom the automobile was acquired, the vehicle identification number, the date sold and the name of the person to whom the automobile was disposed
  • Dealer Record Books maintained via a permanently bound book must meet the following requirements:
    • All of the information identified above must be included in a permanently bound book containing consecutively pre-numbered pages with horizontal ruling
    • All initial purchase entries must be made immediately as each automobile is acquired and sales information must be entered on the same line at subsequent time of sale of the automobile
    • All entries must be entered consecutively in ink and be legible

Wisconsin retail automobile dealers are required to maintain the records at their licensed business premises and must make them available for inspection and copying by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation during business hours.  Auto dealers with multiple locations may keep the records at one central location.  If the location is out of state, the auto dealer must reimburse the department’s wages and expenses associated with examining the records and books at the out-of-state location.

Wisconsin retail automobile dealers are required to maintain the information in the Dealer Record Book for 5 years.  Retail auto dealers are required to maintain all other required records—such as purchase contracts, Wisconsin buyers’ guides, factory invoices, consignment agreements, etc.—for 5 years from the date of sale.

VII. Automobile Sales Finance Company Records

Wis. Admin. Code § DFI-Bkg. 76.09, an administrative rule promulgated by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, sets forth the record retention requirements for automobile sales finance companies.  Sales finance companies include any automobile dealer who sells or leases an automobile on an installment contract or consumer lease.

An installment contract is a contract in which the price of the automobile is payable in one or more installments over a period of time and in which the seller has either retained title to the automobile or has taken a security interest in the automobile.

An automobile sales finance company must retain the following records—accessible by reference to the customer’s name—in connection with each retail installment contract, for a period of at least 2 years after consummation of the transaction or 1 year after the last payment, whichever is later:

  • A copy of the retail installment contract
  • The credit disclosure statement
  • The name of the assignee to whom each contract is transferred
  • In instances where credit insurance is sold by the sales finance company, the following:
    • A copy of the insurance policy or certificate of insurance
    • The policy number
    • The date of any prepayment
    • Refunds of any credit insurance premiums, each of which must be separately itemized
    • The notice of prepayment made by an assignee in accordance with Department of Financial Institution rule DFI-Bkg 76.05
    • The amount, date and check number of any credit insurance rebates
  • A copy of each notice of right to cure default sent by the sales finance company
  • Every document evidencing receipt of surrender or voluntary surrender of any automobile recovered by the sales finance company
  • A copy of each bid received, as well as the date of the sale, amount received and identity of the buyer—for any automobile recovered by replevin, surrender or voluntary surrender, and disposed of by the sales finance company

For each retail installment contract retained by the sales finance company for a period of more than 30 days, a written record which includes the following:

  • For open accounts
    • Date of the transaction
    • Account number
    • Name and address of the buyer and seller
    • The cash price
    • The down payment
    • The amount and description of each additional charge
    • The amount financed
    • The finance charge
    • The total of payments
    • The first installment due date
    • The number, amount and periods of payment scheduled to repay the debt
    • The annual percentage rate
    • A description and model year of the automobile—including an identification of whether the automobile was new or used at the time of sale
    • The date and amount of each payment
    • The amount of any delinquency charges collected
    • The amount of any deferral charges collected
    • The name of each credit and property insurer
    • Each insurance certificate or policy number
  • For paid accounts
    • The date the account is paid in full
    • An identification of whether the account balance or any payments were paid from credit insurance proceeds, the amount of any such proceeds and, if paid from the proceeds of credit life insurance, the date of the customer’s death
    • The amount of the refund of any unearned charges, each of which must be separately itemized
    • The amount, date and check number of any overpayment or rebate for prepayment