Illinois has few laws to protect purchasers of used cars. If you're buying a used car in the state, it's your responsibility to research the vehicle thoroughly and have the car inspected before you buy. Review your own credit report as well if you're planning on getting the car financed.
Sold "As Is"
Dealers have the option in Illinois to sell a used car "as is" -- that is, without any express or implied warranties. This phrase means the buyer is on the hook for any repairs the car needs at any time. For example, if the muffler falls off the car as you're leaving the dealership, the dealer doesn't have to repair this for you if you signed a contract to purchase the car "as is."
The dealer may make verbal promises to get you to buy the car, but if those promises aren't in writing and you sign an "as is" contract, that written contract prevails and there are no warranties with respect to the car.
The Illinois lemon law only applies to new cars, not used cars.
Financing a Used Car
You'll usually find a better interest rate if you shop around for financing on your own, rather than relying on the dealer to arrange financing for you. This is because dealers often attach a "buy rate" on top of the interest rate offered by the lender. The rate the dealer then offers you is a combination of interest to the lender and interest paid to him. Finding your own financing cuts out the dealer as a middleman.
In addition to the purchase price of the car, your sales contract may include tax and title fees, as well as a service or "documentary" fee. Illinois law permits dealers to add a fee for processing related documents or conducting other services needed to close the sale on the vehicle, but these fees cannot exceed $150.
Many dealers offer a money-back guarantee on used car sales, or allow buyers to return the car with no questions asked within three days or less. However, unless the dealer specifically extends this privilege, purchasers have no right under Illinois law to return the car for a full refund. The state does have a law that allows residents to cancel certain consumer contracts within three days, but it doesn't apply to sales of motor vehicles.
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.