Buying a Private-Party Used Car in Illinois

If you’re looking to buy a private-party used car in Illinois, you’ve come to the right place to find out how to do it by the book. Dealerships charge exorbitant fees and markups, which you can avoid when buying directly from a private seller. Let’s walk through the entire transaction process for the state of Illinois.
When you purchase a car from a private seller, there are important details to manage. PrivateAuto streamlines the private used car buying experience by providing a smooth transactional process, including instant payments of up to $1 million with no fees.

Learn how to buy a used car in the state of Illinois—and how we can help.

Should I Buy from a Dealer or a Private Seller?

When considering whether to purchase from a dealer or a private seller, the traditional view is that dealerships offer convenience, while private sellers provide better value.

At PrivateAuto, we strongly advocate for the private seller option, as it offers several advantages:

1. Get a better price by cutting out the middleman and going straight to the source. Dealers must buy low and sell high to make a profit and keep the lights on.
2. Avoid dealer fees. Car dealers charge documentation fees that range from $50 to over $1,000.
3. You drive the deal on your terms. PrivateAuto allows you to make offers and negotiate the best deal directly with the seller.

While it’s true that dealerships traditionally offer more convenience, we’re all about making the private-party car buying experience frictionless and safe.

Our first-of-its-kind transactional marketplace gives you all the tools you need to drive the deal on your terms, including instant payments of up to $1 million with absolutely no fees.
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Find a Car For Your Budget

You’re probably looking for private-party used cars online, which means you’ll be using one of the many sites that list used vehicles for sale. You probably know what your ideal vehicle is and which car brands fit your budget. If so, it’s time to start your search.

Browse for Cars Online

Most people choose to search online when they’re looking for used cars for sale in their area.

Here are some of your options for online car-buying platforms.

Social media listings.
Auction websites such as eBay Motors and Hemmings.
Online classifieds
National classifieds such as Craigslist and OfferUp.
Local classifieds such as KSL Cars.
Vehicle listing sites such as Autotrader.

While these platforms serve as excellent resources for finding vehicles, each of them lacks transactional capabilities. We call them "meetingplaces" because they leave you high and dry when it comes to initiating and closing the deal.

PrivateAuto is the world’s first and only fully transactional marketplace, offering self-service technological solutions for every stage of the deal.

To experience the hassle-free simplicity of buying from a private seller, browse used cars for sale by the owner and begin your car-buying journey today.

Don't get us wrong, we have nothing against other listing sites. Most of them have a lot more private-party car inventory than we do— we’re still new, but growing fast. But we want you to have security and convenience no matter where you shop.

That’s why we developed DealNow. DealNow is our deal flow technology that allows you to create your own dealroom on PrivateAuto, invite the owner of the car you want to buy, and fast-track the transaction.

Get your deal started now!

Negotiate the Price

You want to get the very best car for your money. We allow you to make offers on vehicles that catch your eye. You never know if the vehicle’s owner will accept less than their asking price until you try.

On other sites, you’d have to message the seller and have an awkward conversation. PrivateAuto lets you make an offer with the click of a button, without the need for direct contact. The seller can then accept, reject, or counteroffer.

Research the Vehicle

A smart buyer will try to find out as much as they can about the car they’re getting. The two best ways to learn about a vehicle’s background are:

1. Get a vehicle history report
2. Research the vehicle's title

Acquire a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report is advisable when buying a used car from a private seller. It covers ownership history and maintenance records and gives you insight into how well the seller cared for the vehicle.

PrivateAuto provides a vehicle history report for all premium listings.

Here are some reasons a vehicle history report will put your mind at ease.

1. You know how well the car has been cared for.
2. You have visibility into any accidents or insurance claims.
3. You can see service records, major repairs, and other work.

A vehicle history report can help you avoid buying a defective used car.

Research the Title

Before meeting up for the test drive, it’s smart to do preliminary research on the car title.
You can use the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to research the title to protect yourself from car-buying fraud.

Sometimes sellers may try to pass off a salvage title as clean.

Title research will help you check for:

1. Reports of the car having been stolen.
2. An outstanding lien.
3. The car has been declared a total loss in an insurance claim.

Ask the seller for their full name and the vehicle identification number (VIN) before the meetup.

Run the title check, and steer clear of any car-buying scams.

Schedule a Test Drive

Here at PrivateAuto, we let you arrange the test drive safely, easily, and conveniently, never revealing your personal information to the seller.

1. Our in-app scheduler allows you to pick from the time slots the seller has chosen—no back-and-forth conversations. You'll also see the seller's preferred meetup location.
2. You can only transact with verified sellers, which tends to weed out those who prefer to operate in the shadows.

You’ll schedule the test drive in a matter of minutes without ever needing to contact the seller. It’s just one of the many ways we streamline private car sales. If you are making a long-distance purchase, you can arrange to have a qualified vehicle inspector located in the seller’s area act as your proxy for the test drive.
Paperwork is a critical part of the transaction process. Here is the paperwork involved in an Illinois used car transaction:

1. Title
2. Bill of sale
3. Emissions testing

Illinois Certificate of Title

You and the seller need to fill out the official Illinois certificate of title. An Illinois title will require both parties to provide the following information at the time of the sale:

Odometer disclosure.
Date of sale.
Vehicle purchase price.
Seller’s hand-printed name, signature, and address (if there is more than one seller listed on the title, both sellers will need to sign).
Your hand-printed name and signature.

Illinois Bill of Sale

While Illinois doesn't require a bill of sale, we recommend you always complete one with the seller. A bill of sale protects you by memorializing the terms of the sale, the vehicle identification number (VIN), the selling price, mileage, and the names and signatures of both parties. If the seller ever wants to contest the transaction or any part of it, you have their signature on a legal document with all of the terms and details to back you up.

PrivateAuto makes it easy with an official Illinois bill of sale. You and the seller review the details, and then digitally sign the bill of sale after inspecting the car.

No printing or scanning— sign it electronically in our mobile app, and access it in your PrivateAuto account at any time if the need arises.

Illinois Emissions Testing

If your car is more than 4 years old and gas-powered, you must run an emissions test when registering a vehicle in any of these counties.

1. Will
2. St. Clair
3. Monroe
4. Madison
5. McHenry
6. Kendall
7. Kane
8. Lake
9. Dupage
10. Cook

The emissions test cost ranges from $10 to $20.

Pay the Seller

When it comes time to pay the seller for their car, there aren’t a lot of great options—until now. Cash is inconvenient and risky, PayPal has fees, Venmo and Zelle have low transfer limits, and checks and wire transfers are slow and unwieldy.

We got tired of how limited the existing payment methods are, so we created a solution. We call it PrivateAuto Pay, but our users call it magic. Here’s how the magic works:

1. Instantaneous transfers. Close the deal when you meet for the test drive.
2. No transfer fees.
3. Works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No coordinating around banker’s hours.
4. No exchange of contact or banking info.
5. Advanced encryption protects your data from hackers.
6. Skip inconvenient and costly third-party escrow services when you use our escrow-like safeguards.

You’ll never want to buy a car any other way. Even if you’re buying a car on a different site, invite the seller to our DealNow fast-track solution to get the transaction done safely, securely, and fast.
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Illinois Title Transfer and Registration

After the title is signed over to you, you’ll go to the Secretary of State office to complete the Illinois title transfer process. At the same time, you’ll register the vehicle in your name, get new license plates, and pay your Illinois sales tax owed.

Here’s what you’ll need to provide when you transfer your car’s title at the SOS office:

The Certificate of Title, signed over to you by the previous vehicle owner
A completed title transfer application form
Lien information (if there is a lien holder on the title)
Payment for the Illinois vehicle sales tax: 6.25% of the vehicle price
Payment for Illinois’s vehicle title transfer fee: $165
Payment for Illinois registration fee: $151
Payment for Illinois license plate fee: included in the registration fee
Valid ID, driver's license, or other proof of identity
Proof of insurance

Read our complete guide to an Illinois title transfer for more info on the subject.

Illinois Vehicle FAQ

How much is sales tax on a $20,000 car in Illinois?

If you buy a used car from a private party for $20,000, you’ll pay $1250 in sales tax plus local (city and county) tax, depending on where you live in the state.

Who pays sales tax when selling a car privately in Illinois?

Do both parties need to be present to transfer a title in Illinois?

Are registration costs different in each county?