How to buy a used car in Indiana

Buying a private-party used car in Indiana? Let's make sure you know how to get through the car-buying process successfully.
When you buy a vehicle from a private seller, there are important details to manage along the way. PrivateAuto streamlines private vehicle purchases with our smooth transactional process, including instant payments of up to $1 million with no fees.

Browse Used Cars Online

Whether you are searching for a work truck, an electric vehicle, a minivan, or a limited edition Dodge Demon, you’ll probably want to shop online. There are lots of car-buying sites with used vehicles for sale by owner:

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

While these websitesplaces help you find used cars in your area, all of them lack transactional capability. We call them "meetingplaces" because they leave you to your own devices when it comes down to closing the deal.

Another major downside to most of these websites is the fact they mix dealer inventory with private-party cars. Most of them don’t have an easy way to filter by private-party vehicles, so you’re left burrowing through a glut of dealer listings to find the private offerings.

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

We have nothing against other listing sites. If you find your car on one of them, we’re happy for you. But we still want you to have the transactional security and convenience that our users enjoy.

That’s why we created DealNow. DealNow allows you to start a deal on any site, and finish it on PrivateAuto. Invite the seller to DealNow and fast-track your transaction.
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Research the Vehicle

It’s a great idea to do some research on the vehicle beforehand. A vehicle history report can help you avoid buying a defective car.

We have partnered with AutoCheck to provide vehicle history reports on premium listings. AutoCheck gets its data from the following sources:

OEM manufacturers.
Auto auctions.
Salvage auctions.
Collision repair shops.
Service records from maintenance facilities.
Import and export companies.
Rental and fleet companies.
Car dealerships and extended warranty companies.
State Departments of Motor Vehicles (BMVs).
Insurance companies.
Vehicle inspection and state inspection stations.

An AutoCheck report reveals a wealth of info about the car’s history.

Regular maintenance (or lack thereof).
Manufacturer buybacks or lemon titles.
Rental, taxi, lease, or government use.
Lien information, ownership transfers.
Odometer rollback.
City and state of previous registration, number of owners.
Accidents and damage reports, stolen vehicles.
Major repairs.
Open recalls.
Emissions records.
Collision repair history.
Structural or frame damage.
Service, repair, and maintenance performed.
Total loss and reason for the loss.
Stolen vehicles.
Title history: salvage titles, junk titles, flood damage, hail damage, storm damage, fire damage, and more.
And a lot more…

Meet Up for the Test Drive

When you've found a car you like and settled on a price, it's time to take it for a spin.
Other marketplaces force you to exchange contact info with the seller and have a back-and-forth conversation about scheduling. Your privacy is compromised, and you waste a lot of time.

We keep your sensitive info private and secure. All communication happens through our secure messaging system. Our in-app scheduler makes it easy for you to schedule the meetup: just select from the seller’s available times and show up at their designated location.

Vehicle Inspection

Before buying the car, you should inspect it. Even better, arrange a professional pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic (especially if it’s a higher-mileage vehicle).

Here are some of the things to inspect:

Undercarriage: inspect under the car for leaks, rust, and damage. Look at brake lines, exhaust, and suspension components.
Fluids: check all fluid levels, including engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant. Look for leaks and make sure the fluids look clean and at proper levels.
Body: check for obvious damage, body panel alignment, uneven gaps, mismatched paint, and signs of damage repair. Look closely for any indications of collision repair. Check for rust underneath and around various body panels. Check headlights, brake lights, and other lights.
Tires: examine tire treads and make sure there is sufficient tread depth. Also look for any cracks, bulges, or other tire damage. Check the spare as well.
Maintenance records: review the vehicle history report and check maintenance logs to understand repair and ownership history.
Test drive: drive the car under different conditions to test acceleration, braking, steering, and transmission, and to feel and listen for any mechanical issues.
Interior: ensure all controls, electronics, air conditioning, and heating work properly. Look for any warning lights on the dash when the car is started. Check for water damage, stains, or tears inside.

Sign an Indiana Bill of Sale

A bill of sale is required in Indiana private-party car transactions. The bill of sale is a legal document that protects both buyer and seller by memorializing the terms of the sale.

Here are the necessary elements in a bill of sale:

Date of the transaction.
Price of the car.
The make, model, and year of the car.
A description of the car.
Your full name and notarized signature.
The other party’s full name and notarized signature.
A warranty disclaimer stating the car is being sold as-is.

PrivateAuto provides an official Indiana bill of sale as part of our standard in-app transaction process. At the appropriate stage of the transaction workflow, the buyer and seller will be asked to sign the Indiana bill of sale electronically in the PrivateAuto app.

Pay for the Car

Now is the time to pay the seller. Existing payment methods are inconvenient, risky, or expensive (or a combo of all three). That’s why we created PrivateAuto Pay.

You can send unlimited funds to the seller with no transfer fees. Holidays, weekends, or nights—anytime. The seller will receive the money immediately. It’s convenient, secure, and most importantly, easy to use. Its instantaneous nature provides escrow-like safeguards for you to control the deal.

If you are not in a situation where you can pay cash for your next car, you can apply for a used auto loan directly within the PrivateAuto app. When your application is approved, your profile will show that you have verified funds, which will set you apart from other buyers.

Our lending partner will pay the seller in full when you close the deal and send payment. You will make monthly car payments to the lender. It's that simple. Curious how much your payments will be? Our car loan calculator will tell you.

Sign the Title

After you’ve paid for the car, you and the seller will each fill out and sign the certificate of title, and the seller will give it to you. This is the crowning step that makes you the official owner of the vehicle.

Both parties need to fill out the title certificate thoroughly. The following info is required:

Vehicle identification number (VIN)
An odometer disclosure statement (in many states)
Damage disclosure statement

Odometer Disclosure

Federal law requires the seller to complete the odometer reading statement (also known as an odometer disclosure). In many states, the title includes an odometer disclosure. For other states, an additional odometer disclosure statement is required as a separate document.

If in doubt, you could always complete the Federal Odometer Disclosure Statement to make sure your bases are covered.

Inspect the odometer to verify that the seller’s entry is correct. Keep in mind that sellers who tamper with a car's odometer to obtain a false reading can face serious consequences.

The PrivateAuto app has a field for the odometer reading so that both the buyer and the seller can check the mileage before moving forward.

Vehicle Identification Number Check

Always verify the VIN to compare it to that written on the title. You want to avoid having the wrong VIN on the car title, as this will cause all sorts of grief later on.

The PrivateAuto app has a field for the VIN, where both the buyer and seller can check it for accuracy. This helps to eliminate errors (or the rare case of outright seller fraud).

Get Car Insurance

Before driving the new-to-you car home, you’ll want to have it covered under an insurance policy. Most states require liability insurance at a minimum; it’s up to you whether to get more coverage.

PrivateAuto makes it easy to compare rates and get car insurance right in our app.

Finalize with Indiana BMV

You technically own the car at this point, but the Indiana BMV needs to be aware of that. It’s time to register the car in your name, transfer the title in the state records, and get new license plates. They will require the following:

The Certificate of Title, signed over to you by the previous vehicle owner.
A completed Application For Certificate Of Title For A Vehicle (Form 205)
Payment for Indiana’s vehicle title transfer fee: $15.
Payment for Indiana vehicle registration fee: $21.50.
Payment for Indiana vehicle sales tax: 7% of your vehicle's purchase price
Valid ID, driver's license, or other proof of identity.
Lien information (if there is a lien holder on the title).
Proof of insurance.
Proof of emissions testing
Completed odometer disclosure statement (if applicable)

License Plates

Some states allow the license plates to remain with the car when sold. Indiana requires the seller to remove the plates from the car. As the buyer, you’ll apply to the BMV for new Indiana license plates (the cost of a standard plate is included in vehicle registration).

Indiana Emissions Testing

According to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, “Vehicles registered in Lake and Porter counties are required to undergo emissions tests and tampering inspections every two years if they were manufactured after 1975 and have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 9,000 pounds or less.”

To read more about Indiana's emissions testing program, visit the BMV’s official page.
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Is Buying From a Dealership Better?

A private-party deal gives you more car for your money, while dealerships offer convenience (before PrivateAuto, that is).

We're big fans of the private seller route for the following reasons:

1. You drive the deal on your terms. PrivateAuto allows you to make offers and negotiate the best deal directly with the seller.
2. 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.
3. Avoid fees. Vehicle dealers charge documentation fees that range from $50 to over $1,000.

Before PrivateAuto, dealers offered an escape from the messiness of the private-party sale. Buyers were willing to pay fees and markups for that convenience. Now they don't need to. We bring security and dealer-like convenience to the private-party car transaction

Our transactional marketplace gives you all the tools to drive the deal on your terms, including instant payments of up to $1 million with no transfer fees.

Indiana Vehicle FAQ

Do you pay sales tax on a used car from a private seller in Indiana?

You pay sales tax when you buy a car and register it in Indiana, whether you purchase it from a dealer or a private seller. Indiana's motor vehicle sales tax is 7% of the vehicle's purchase price. Unlike many other states, Indiana has no county sales tax. 7% places Indiana in the top-tier bracket for sales tax rates.

Who is exempt from car sales tax in Indiana?

Is it cheap to buy a car in Indiana?

Can you title transfer online in Indiana?