Illinois Cars for Sale

Illinois has become famous as the “Land of Lincoln.” The state is renowned for serving as residence for aspiring – and subsequently successful – United States presidents. It features a total area of 57,914 square miles and is home to approximately 12,830,632 Illinoisans.

In addition to being well known for its association with Abraham Lincoln, the State of Illinois is also legendary for its humid and very hot summers, which then give way for cold, snowy winters. Not surprisingly, cars for sale in Illinois must be able to handle the heat of the summer and anything that Mother Nature sees fit to throw at motorists in winter.


Getting a Feel for the Locale
Illinois shares borders with Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. Its largest cities are Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Joliet, Naperville, Rockford, Peoria, Springfield and Waukegan. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the state has an estimated 774 new-car dealerships, which generate annual sales of about $23.4 billion.

Motorists enjoy a well-apportioned net of interstate highways that crisscross the state; they are the 24, 39, 55, 57, 64, 70, 72, 74, 80, 88, 90 and 94.


Illinois Car Guide on the Sales and Use Tax
This online car buying guide would be incomplete without first pointing out that Illinois drivers are required to pay sales tax on their cars. If you purchase a new car at a dealership, the seller will file Form ST-556 to report the sale to the state and show proof that you paid the sales tax. This tax varies by county. The highest sales tax – at this time – for new cars is 10 percent. Obviously when buying a for sale by owner vehicle you will be requirement to take car of the taxes yourself.

When buying a motor vehicle from a private party, you are responsible for meeting the tax obligations yourself. You must file Form RUT-50 yourself within 30 days of the transaction. Use the purchase price or the car’s fair market value for determining the taxable amount. The latter is usually only of consequence if the car was acquired in an even trade or as a gift. The bill of sale with the noted purchase price proves the taxable amount you were charged.

It is interesting to note that taxing authorities look at the vehicle’s age when apportioning tax indebtedness on a car costing less than $15,000. A possible tax bill ranges from $25 to $390. If the car’s value is higher than $15,000, the age is immaterial. A $15,000 car carries a tax bill of $750, while a $20,000 automobile comes with a $1,000 tax debt. Vehicles costing $30,000 or more require a tax payment of $1,500.


Minimum Car Insurance Requirements for Illinois
Illinois minimum insurance requirement image
Motorists must carry liability insurance when driving in Illinois. Applicable state law specifies the Illinois minimum requirements for any driver:

  • Carry a $20,000 bodily injury/death liability insurance policy to cover one person involved in the accident
  • Purchase a $40,000 policy to recompense parties for all injuries/deaths resulting from an accident
  • Buy a $15,000 property damage policy that reimburses others for destruction of their property caused by an accident

It is always a good idea to purchase additional insurance products or increase the minimum limits to avoid or minimize personal liability in case of a civil lawsuit. Remember also that drivers with a lot of personal assets have an even greater risk of losing their wealth in the aftermath of an at-fault collision; maximum insurance coverage is a crucial aspect of asset protection.

Failure to carry proof of insurance comes with a suspension of the vehicle’s license plates. This prohibits you, the owner, and anyone else from using the motor vehicle. Once you are ready to submit proof of insurance, you must also pay a $100 plate reinstatement fee. There may be a four-month automatic suspension, if you are known to be a repeat offender. Should you be caught in the aftermath of an accident without insurance, there is an additional $500 fine.


Illinois Car Title and Vehicle Registration FAQ
Cars for sale in Illinois come with several formalities that both sellers and buyers must meet.

Remember that you only have 20 calendar days – from the day of purchase – to register your new car and get a proper Illinois title and/or registration in your name. If you moved from out of state, you also only have 30 days – counted from the date of entry – to register the vehicle.

  • Illinois cars and trucks cannot change hands without a proper title. If you are a selling a used car in a private party transaction (otherwise known as for sale by owner), you must assign the interest in the automobile to the new owner. You must also note the odometer reading and mark the sales price. If you do not have a title to the vehicle, you must apply for one before you can complete the transaction. Please note that titles are always mailed to the first lien holder of record; if you still owe money on the car, the debt must be satisfied and the lien removed before you can get a clear title to the car.
  • The title fee is $95. If you require a duplicate title – or need a title correction – there is another $95 fee. Get the documents right the first time to avoid the costly fix of any error!
  • Check your purchase title’s wording. If your purchase title features one or more names, all of which are joined together with “and,” everyone named must appear in person at the motor vehicle office. If the names are joined with “or,” it is enough for one named owner to appear.
  • Bring the vehicle with you. The law may require that a state official conducts a physical VIN check during a title application. This is usually the case if there were prior title irregularities or the car has a salvage title.
  • If you are financing your car, bring along the loan paperwork that shows the lender’s name, address as well as your account number. The lender becomes the first lien holder and will receive the title to the car.
  • At this time, you need to pay the aforementioned sales tax.
  • Show proof of insurance.
  • Complete and file Form VSD 190. It is the Application for Vehicle Title and Registration.
  • Pay the standard registration fee of $99. This includes the basic plates.


What about Tags?
When you buy a new car in Illinois, you usually only have a temporary paper tag. Private parties selling used cars in the Lincoln State are required to remove the license plates. Standard plates are included in the registration fee. If you lose the plate, there is a $6 fee; if you lose the sticker, be prepared to pay a $20 fee for a replacement.

Vanity plates are a bit more expensive. There is a $112 fee for a basic vanity plate. If you choose a specialty plate, such as an Eagle Scout or Firefighter demarcation, there are higher costs. Personalized plates carry a $106 fee.


What about Emissions?
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency oversees vehicle emissions testing for the state. Gasoline-powered cars made after 1996 must be tested once they reach the age of four years. Exempt from testing a diesel-powered cars and electric vehicles.

It is interesting to note that Illinois smog test requirements do not apply uniformly to the state. Zip code determines whether you must take in your car for testing or not, so be sure to check before spending money on the fee.


Where Are the Illinois Car Auctions?

Clinton Auto Auction
Location: RR2 BOX 82D, Clinton, IL 61727
Phone: (217) 935-2277
Auctions Run: Every Saturday at 10 a.m. and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

America’s Auto Auction
Location: 14001 S. Karlov Ave., Crestwood, IL 60445
Phone: (708) 389-4488
Auctions Run: Every Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Decatur Auto Auction, Inc. (DAA)
Location: 1991 W. Mound Rd., Decatur, IL 62526
Phone: (217) 875-4220
Auctions Run: Mondays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 11 a.m.

Please check each Illinois car auction site for additional details.