Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller in South Dakota

If you’re buying a private-party used car, you’re clever. Dealerships charge fees and markups, which you can avoid when you buy directly from a private seller. Let’s walk through the entire transaction process for the state of South Dakota.
PrivateAuto streamlines the private car buying experience and makes it safe and stress-free. From encrypted messaging to instantaneous payments, we are the only transactional marketplace for private-party used vehicles.

Step 1: Should I Purchase from a Dealer or a Private Party?

People choose licensed dealers for convenience and private sellers for value.

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

1. You drive the deal. Our platform 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. Dealerships have to buy low and sell high to make a profit and keep the business running. You don’t need to fund them.
3. Avoid pesky dealer fees. Car dealerships charge documentation fees that range from $50 to over $1,000.
4. Enjoy security and convenience when you do the deal with PrivateAuto. Our transactional marketplace gives dealer-like convenience in the palm of your hand. From scheduling the test drive to sending instant payments, you’ll love how easy the entire process is.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Step 2: Browse Used Vehicles Online

Whether you are searching for an electric vehicle, a work truck, or a family SUV, you’ll want to shop online.

There are hundreds of car-buying platforms with used cars for sale by owner:

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

While these platforms help you find used cars near you, all of them lack the same thing—transactional capability. They leave you to your own devices when it comes down to closing the deal, so we call them "meetingplaces".

Another downside to most of these websites is that they mix dealer inventory with private-party cars. Most of them don’t have a simple way to filter by private-party vehicles, so you’re left digging through hundreds of dealer listings to find the private offerings.

We’re the one and only fully self-service tech-enabled solution 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 developed DealNow. It allows you to start a deal on any site, and finish it on PrivateAuto.

Invite the seller to DealNow and fast-track your transaction.

Step 3: Research the Car

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

We have partnered with AutoCheck to provide vehicle history reports on premium listings.

AutoCheck gets its data from these sources:

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

An AutoCheck report reveals important info about the car’s history:

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

Step 4: Take the Car for a Spin

Once you’ve found your car and settled on a price, it's time to take it for a spin. Other marketplaces force you to exchange personal info with the seller and have an awkward back-and-forth conversation about scheduling.

Your privacy is compromised, and you waste a lot of time.

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

Step 5: Vehicle Inspection

Before you say yes to the car, you should inspect it. Even better, arrange a professional pre-purchase inspection. You can order a pre-purchase inspection in your PrivateAuto service hub and a Lemon Squad inspector will come to your location.

Here are some of the things the Lemon Squad inspector will look into. Or, if you choose to do your own inspection, look out for the following:

Undercarriage: inspect under the car for leaks, rust, and damage. Look at brake lines, exhaust, and suspension components.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Test drive: drive the car under different conditions to test acceleration, braking, steering, and transmission, and to feel and listen for any mechanical issues.
Maintenance records: review the vehicle history report and check maintenance logs to understand repair and ownership history.

Step 6: Sign the South Dakota Bill of Sale

South Dakota requires a bill of sale for private sales. 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 included in a bill of sale:

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

PrivateAuto provides an official South Dakota 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 South Dakota bill of sale electronically in the PrivateAuto app.

Step 7: Pay for the Car

It's time to pay the seller. Existing payment methods are risky, inconvenient, or expensive (or a combo of all three). That’s why we developed 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 place where you can pay cash for your next car, you can apply for a used car 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.

Want to know how much your payments will be? Our handy car loan calculator will tell you.

Step 8: Sign the Official Title Certificate

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

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

Damage disclosure statement
An odometer 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.

You can 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.

VIN 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).

Step 9: Get Auto Insurance

Before driving the 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.
Image highlighting Buying Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Step 10: Finalize with the South Dakota County Treasurer

You technically own the car at this point, but the South Dakota county treasurer's office 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.

The County Treasurer will require the following:

The original title certificate.
A completed Motor Vehicle or Boat Title & Registration Application.
Payment for South Dakota’s vehicle title transfer fee: $10.
Payment for South Dakota vehicle registration fee: $120.
Payment for South Dakota motor vehicle excise tax: 4% of your vehicle's purchase price
Valid identification card, driver's license, social security card, or other proof of identity.
Lien information (if there is a lien holder on the title).
Proof of insurance.
Completed odometer disclosure statement (if applicable).

If you are paying with a credit card or debit card, you will be subjected to a 2.25% processing fee.

To find out more about the title transfer process, read our South Dakota title transfer guide.

License Plates

Some states allow the license plates to remain with the car when sold. South Dakota requires the seller to remove the plates from the car. As the buyer, you’ll apply to the county treasurer's office for new South Dakota license plates (license plate fees are included in vehicle registration).

South Dakota FAQ

How to request a duplicate title in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, if you’ve lost, misplaced, or damaged your car title, you will need to take these steps to replace it:

- Complete an application for a duplicate certificate of title (form MV-010)
- Payment for the SD duplicate vehicle title fee
- Payment for the mailing fee of $1

You can submit the above-listed documentation to your local county treasurer's office or by mailing it to the following address:

SD Motor Vehicle Division
445 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501

Do you pay sales taxes when you purchase a vehicle from a private party in South Dakota?

Does Pennington County charge county sales tax?

Does South Dakota have a lemon law on used cars?

Can you transfer ownership of a vehicle without a title in South Dakota?