If you live in the Windy City or the Illinois suburbs, you may consider either opting for public transportation or upgrading your vehicle. That may mean getting rid of the car you have now. You could go to a dealership and trade it in, but you may find you can get even more money by selling your car via a private car sale in Illinois. The used car market is still pretty hot and you can take advantage of this time to get even more for your vehicle. Here’s how to sell a car in Illinois and get started.
Step 1: Get your car ready for selling
The first thing you need to do is get your car ready for selling. When it’s your personal car you can do as you please and keep your favorite things in your car. It doesn’t matter if that Starbucks cup has been sitting there for a week. But when you’re getting ready to sell, it does.
To get started selling a car in Illinois, take these steps to get it ready:
- Remove all trash from the vehicle.
- Get a car wash.
- Buff out any scratches.
- Take out all personal belongings.
- Take alluring pictures of your car.
Taking these steps will help you get the car ready to sell and for prospective buyers to look at. People want to imagine themselves as the new owner and if you still have your own stuff in there, it’s tough to do that. So remove all of your stuff and get it nice and spiffy, ready for a new home.
Step 2: Post the car for sale in various places
Once your car is sale-ready, take your photos of your vehicle at various angles (with good lighting!) and post your car sale advertisement on various marketplaces. In addition to photos, you want to include a comprehensive description of the car including make, model, year, and condition. You want to avoid any “gotcha” moments with buyers so be upfront in the description.
You can post the vehicle on places such as:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Any other local sites or publications
Once you hit publish, it’s time to sit back and wait for the buyers to roll in.
Step 3: Agree to a vehicle inspection if asked
Selling a car in Illinois means playing message ping pong with prospective buyers. Some people may be flaky and not that serious, while others might be serious and want to move forward. Typically serious buyers will want a vehicle inspection to make sure the car is good and as you described.
If the buyer requests a vehicle inspection, agree to it and coordinate with them to make it happen. Buyers usually pay the price for that so you don’t necessarily have to worry about that but you want to be a willing participant if the buyer wants to take the next step to get the car checked.
Step 4: Get your vehicle documents in order
If the car selling process is getting serious, you want to make sure to get your vehicle documents in order. You’ll need the following as part of selling a car in Illinois, per the Illinois Secretary of State.
- Your vehicle title. You’ll need a valid vehicle title to give to the buyer. As the seller, you must sign the form as well as date it, and hand it over to the buyer. If you’ve lost your vehicle title, you’ll need to get a duplicate title via Application for Vehicle Transaction(s) (VSD 190) which you can get here to print and mail. You’ll have to pay $50 for the duplicate title.
- Get a Notice of Sale form. You might have a Notice of Sale form at the bottom of your title which needs to be mailed to the Illinois Secretary of State. You can also download the Seller’s Report of Sale here.
- Create a Bill of Sale for the buyer. You can use a template online.
- Print out the Odometer Disclosure Statement for Title Transfers.
When dealing with a private car sale in Illinois, you want to make sure you have all your vehicle documents ready to make the car selling process smoother.
Step 5: Accept payment and hand over the signed title
Once you have a serious buyer and you agree on a price, it’s time to accept payment and transfer the vehicle title. Get your money and hand over your vehicle title with your signature and the date. The buyer will need to sign and date as well.
You also want to get the buyer’s info such as full name, address, and contact information in case there are problems down the road.
You’ll need to submit an odometer disclosure as part of the title transfer. Give the buyer a Bill of Sale and keep one for your records as well. Lastly, you want to remove the license plates before handing over the vehicle to the new buyer. Your plates stay with you.
Step 6: Mail the Notice of Sale form
Once the car is no longer legally yours, you want to let the state of Illinois know that so you’re not on the hook for it anymore.
You can use the Notice of Sale at the bottom of your title or use this Seller’s Report of Sale form and mail to:
Secretary of State
Vehicle Services Department
Record Inquiry Section 501 S. Second St., Rm. 408
Springfield, IL 62756
On top of that, be sure to either update or cancel your car insurance. Your part will be done, but be aware that the buyer also needs to send title and tax info to the state of Illinois within 20 days. When the buyer does that, the whole process of selling a car will be complete.
The bottom line
If you’re wondering how to sell a car in Illinois follow these steps so that you have everything in order and you’re no longer liable for the vehicle.
Once you’ve completed a private car sale in Illinois you might consider buying a new car. As part of buying a new car, you can also look into getting new insurance as well. You can get affordable car insurance with pay-per-mile coverage using Metromile and save big. Why pay for miles you aren’t driving, when you can get more accurate and appropriate coverage and pay a base rate and only for the miles you drive? Get a free quote to see if it’s a good fit for you.
—Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.