How To Sell A Car In Illinois

Dustin Hawley | Mar 05, 2021

Every day across America, cars are being bought and sold, whether at a dealership or in a private sale. So when it comes time to sell your used car, these are your primary options. The benefit of selling to a dealer is that they handle the paperwork. Essentially, you show up, sign the papers, and you’re finished.

how to sell a car in Illinois

This convenience does, however, come at a cost. When you sell to a car dealership, you often won’t get the best price, as they typically have to perform some maintenance on the vehicle to prepare it for sale and then wait to sell the car and hope to turn a profit. So when you sell your used car to a dealer, you’re often leaving money on the table.

If possible, you should consider a private sale, as it may be a more lucrative option. You can often get significantly more than a dealer would give you for trade-in value by selling directly to a buyer. But this increased profit margin also comes at a cost, as you will then have to take care of the legalities on your own.

Selling a car is a relatively simple task, but each state has its own unique guidelines to adhere to. Thankfully, the State of Illinois makes things remarkably simple. Here’s a complete guide to selling your car in Illinois.

Make Sure You Have The Required Paperwork

In Illinois, the only legally required documents to sell a car are your title and registration. Provided these two documents are in good order, you are ready to sell the vehicle.

If the title has a lien on it, the lien will need to be paid off before you can sell the car. A dealership can purchase a vehicle with a lien, but a private buyer cannot. This means that if you owe money on your vehicle, you’ll have to make arrangements to have it paid off before transacting the sale.

In the event that your title is lost or damaged, you can obtain a duplicate from the state. To do this, you’ll need to complete Form VSD 190. You’ll need to write down the VIN and the odometer reading and then submit the form in person at any Illinois Secretary of State office.

The process for applying for a replacement registration is relatively simple. There are several methods for submitting your request, with online, in-person, phone, and mail options readily available.

Place Your Ad

Now that your paperwork is in order, you’re ready to list your car for sale. The most obvious method in today’s age is to use an online marketplace, like Craigslist, Facebook, etc. There are several reputable platforms to connect with potential buyers. With that said, never underestimate the potential impact of a good, old-fashioned “For Sale” sign in the car window.

When you place your ad, you’ll want to include the make, model, year, and mileage of the vehicle. Also, try and include several pictures. These should show the car from multiple angles and include some interior shots, as well. Many sellers also include photos of the engine to show further that the vehicle is in good condition, even under the hood.

Finally, remember to provide your contact information, including an email and phone number. Many online platforms provide secure ways to do this automatically, so make sure you are giving your potential buyers a way to get a hold of you.

Prepare The Bill Of Sale

While many states require a bill of sale, Illinois is one of the exceptions. However, while the state does not require it, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. In fact, a bill of sale is important for several reasons.

First, the buyer may need one for tax purposes. Second, as the seller, you may want one for liability purposes. Suppose the buyer drives off in your car, immediately gets into an accident, totals the car, and flees the scene. A bill of sale would provide evidence that the vehicle was no longer in your possession at the time. While this scenario may seem far fetched, it is not as uncommon as you may think. For the sake of avoiding this potential headache, just prepare a bill of sale to give yourself some peace of mind.

Since Illinois does not legally require a bill of sale, the DMV does not provide one. If you are looking for a template or example document, there are plenty of useful forms available online via search. Once you have found a form, make sure to print off two copies: one for you and one for the buyer.

A bill of sale should include the name, address, and driver’s license numbers of both the buyer and the seller, along with the signatures of both parties. This document should also include essential information about the vehicle, including the make, model, year, VIN, color, and current mileage at the time of sale.

Collect Your Payment And Complete The Transaction

With the bill of sale complete, it’s now time for money to change hands. With payment in place, the seller will need to sign the title and fill out the section at the bottom labeled “Assignment of Title.”

This section requires you to print the odometer reading, the buyer’s name, and the current date. You’ll also need to print your name and sign it exactly as it’s printed on the title. For instance, if you’ve gone by “Steve” for the past 20 years, but the title says “Stephen,” make sure you sign it as Stephen to avoid any issues with processing.

Once completed, the vehicle officially changes ownership and becomes the property of the buyer. From here, the buyer is then responsible for obtaining their own title within 20 days of purchase. However, the seller has no such responsibility, as they don’t have to report the sale to the state or complete any additional paperwork.

Keep Your Plates

To finalize the sale, make sure to remove the plates from the vehicle once ownership has been transferred. You’ll want to hold onto them so you can take them to your local DMV office, along with a copy of Form VSD 190, and transfer the plates to a new vehicle.

In all likelihood, the only time you need to turn in your plates is if you discontinue insurance coverage or if you no longer own a vehicle. Otherwise, your plates will remain attached to your name and do not transfer with the car.

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