When Buying a Car – Get a Bill Of Sale

When buying any private party car, make sure you have a Bill Of Sale to fill out.

Deals can go sour. Seriously, google “used car buying nightmare” and pull out some popcorn. Reading and watching some of these complaints is enough to make many people run off to a car dealership for their next purchase. The problem is, that’s not a realistic solution for everyone. 1. Buying a new car is a whole different ball game. 2. Let’s be real. Your dream 1972 Skyline GTR might not be at your local Nissan dealership.

If you’re finally getting around to buying a car, through private party, it’s time to spend an extra minute to print a blank copy of the “Bill of Sale.” It might cost you a few cents to print a black and white document, but it will save you a world of headaches later on; save it in your car folder and move on if this deal goes through without a hitch. Cause remember, no matter how nice a seller is, you have to protect you in any deal.

So, you’ve been searching day and night for your next car. Finally, after many calls and interactions, possibly some in-person meetups, the time has come. The car you want is nearly in your grasp. The buyer wants to sell to you, it’s the perfect weather outside, and now you’re about ready to drive off in your new ride.

It’s perfect. You almost want to selfie the moment and force-feed it to your friends. But you don’t. Instead, you pay the seller and they tell you that the title will be sent to you by the bank. You hesitate for a moment, but then they give you the keys to the car. Caution is thrown to the wind and you sail away.

A week later, there is no title and you start to worry. Two weeks later and you’re trying to figure out how else to contact John Doe. Three weeks later and you start to view that car like it’s a plague.

The easiest way to avoid all this stress is to have an auto bill of sale that details the entire transaction. Make sure that it is signed by both parties and filled out completely. Verify any of the information if possible.

If you buy a car (or any motorized vehicle) make sure you have a completed bill of sale. You (and the seller) must sign both sections of the paperwork; there will be a buyer’s copy and seller’s copy:

  • Buyer’s and Seller’s Name
    • Yes, fill out your name. The same info you would give to the DMV. No nicknames or short-forms. 
  • Buyer’s and Seller’s Addresses
    • Please verify this by looking at the car’s current title, registration, or insurance cards that might be in the glove box. It might feel creepy, but you need to make sure that “John Doe” from Craigslist–who’s meeting you at McDonald’s– isn’t giving the address to a local UPS store.
  • Car’s Year, Make and Model
    • If the car model isn’t what the listing says, consider this a red flag. However, there are some situations when this works in your fav. Sellers that sell for a family member might not know all that much about what they have. You might be getting a better model for a base price. 
  • VIN (vehicle identification numbers)
    • Check the car. You can find this in a few different spots: window (dash area) or inner area of the doors.
  • Final Selling Price
    • If you work out a deal to pay in installments, don’t place that down on the Bill of Sales. State the selling price.
  • Odometer Reading
    • We hope you know where this is. But just in case you don’t, it’s in the dash. Depending on the car, you might have to it turn on to see the actual numbers.
  • Signatures and Date
    • Simple stuff. The seller jots down a squiggly and you scribble out a few swirls… bing bang, you’re done. As for the correct date, this could be found on your phone…
  • If need be, you could have a 3rd party sign, the back of your copy, stating their presence in the deal.
    • Just be professional throughout your deal. Most legitimate sellers are going to want to protect their end of the deal too. By doing this, you provide protection for both the parties involved.  

Bonus Tips! Free of cost.

  • Go with a trusted friend
  • Take the car to a trusted mechanic or bring your mechanic to check it out
    • Note, a mechanic will not be able to guarantee the longevity of the car. What they are able to do is lessen the risk of certain problems such as poor repair work in the engine bay, finding error codes, and possibly identify leaks. 

Most of the information above is simple to do. But we see many people avoid these minor steps and get bit in the rear for doing so.

Do yourself a favor and always have a completed bill of sale anytime you’re buying or selling a vehicle.

Image Credit: rawpixel.com

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