WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Buying a car can be a stressful experience.
Still, Wisconsin may actually be one of the safer states in our region to make such a big purchase. But it all depends on where you spend your money.
"Wisconsin is the only one of all our surrounding states that requires a Wisconsin buyer's guide to be on the vehicle when it's purchased," said Cathy Fallos, dealer investigator at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
The buyer's guide is the piece of paper in the car window, and it contains valuable information.
"We go through, under the hood, under the wheels, the brake pads, rotors, and we want that car to be perfect," said Jimmy Juel, sales manager at Wausau Auto. "If they're buying a car from here, it's 100 percent ready to go."
Every dealership in the state is required to provide the buyer's guide. But transportation officials say that doesn't mean the car is perfect.
"Dealers are not required to basically tear a vehicle apart to find things, and things can go wrong with vehicles," said Fallos.
And private sellers are not required to inspect the car at all. That's why officials urge buyers to do that themselves.
"Don't be afraid to ask the car owner if you can take the vehicle to your mechanic," said Fallos.
Shaun Cumber has worked as an auto mechanic almost his entire life.
"We have a lot of customers that bring cars that they're purchasing for their kids or that they would just like somebody to take a look at it for them," said Cumber.
Cumber says most sellers don't have a problem with that. But if they do, "that's a red flag that maybe you should shop elsewhere," he said.
In addition to getting a car inspected, transportation officials say buyers should research the going price for cars and trade-ins, and take the car on a good test drive.
"Don't just drive it around the block," said Fallos. "Take it out on the highway."
Officials say all this will help make sure buying a car is money well spent.