Vehicle Bill of Sale Form

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A vehicle bill of sale is a legally binding document that transfers the ownership of a vehicle from one party or parties (the Seller(s)) to another (the Buyer(s)). It specifies the details of the transaction, including but not limited to price, quality of the vehicle, and mileage. The document should be signed and retained by all parties participating in the transaction.

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What is a Vehicle Bill of Sale?

A vehicle bill of sale is a piece of paper that transfers the ownership of a vehicle from one party or parties (the Seller(s)) to another (the Buyer(s)). It is a document that varies somewhat in content depending on the location of the sale. You will need to review your state and local websites to ensure your bill of sale is obeying all laws and bylaws. It’s the sort of document one can easily draw up using a free car bill of sale template – it’s not that complex. You can simply download a free auto bill of sale from the internet and just fill it out (though do be sure you are using a reputable resource). However, you’ll want to have every one of your details in order before starting.

If the seller issues a warranty, that means the seller is assuring the buyer of the property transfer. No one but the seller or the buyer may claim ownership of the vehicle. If the seller transfers without warranty, he or she is not providing this defense.

Components of a Vehicle Bill of Sale

  • Passing a vehicle from one set of hands to the next is not nearly as complicated as one might think. However, it does require going through official legal pathways. The bill of sale is a document that legitimizes the transfer of a vehicle’s ownership from one party to another. It must be drawn up and executed regardless of price (even if the vehicle is free) or relationship between the parties. Here are the main components of a vehicle bill of sale.

Buyer and Seller Information

  • This should include all buyer names, and seller names (sometimes there is more than one buyer or seller. This common among couples who put both their names on a vehicle), as well as the street addresses and any other relevant information. The seller must identify him or herself as the owner and explicitly state that he or she is transferring said property to the buyer.

Witness Information

  • In order to be considered legal, every vehicle bill of sale must have an official witness. This includes the full legal name and street address of the bill of sale’s witness.

Description of Property

  • This must include all pertinent vehicle information, including make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), seller registration number, and physical details such as color, condition, and odometer reading. If the title of the vehicle has been applied for in the past, this must also be specified.

Payment Details

  • This must specify the method of payment, the exact amount due, and payment schedule, including the number of installments and the date(s) that payment is due. If the vehicle is a gift, this must also be specified, and the relationship between the parties (parent/child, spouse/spouse) must be declared

Signatures

  • This must appear at the end and follow a direct statement conveying all parties’ agreement to the preceding terms of the vehicle sale, verifying the information contained in the document under penalty of perjury. It must include the signatures of the buyer, seller and witness beside each of their printed full legal names, as well as the date the bill of sale is being signed.

Benefits for sellers:

  • Ease of tax reporting

  • "As-is" protection

  • Date of ownership transfer

Benefits for buyers:

  • Proof of ownership

  • Date of ownership transfer

  • Warranty information

Bill of Sale vs Title Transfer

Although a bill of sale form is an important part of the sale, it does not prove ownership. A title transfer, however, does prove ownership of a vehicle and finalizes the buying-selling transaction. A legally binding bill of sale makes the lives of both buyers and sellers substantially easier.

A 7-Step Guide to Selling Your Car

Updated March 18, 2019

Planning to sell your car? Confused about how to do so? Want to make sure you get maximum value in your sale? Follow our step-by-step guide to help make sure you get the highest price possible, ensure you complete the process properly when selling your vehicle.

Step 1: Determine the Value of Your Car

  • The first step in selling your car is to figure out how much your car is worth. There are many online resources that can easily help you do so, like this one: https://www.autotrader.com/car-values/

    • Sites like this will most likely ask you general information about your car, including your zip code, make, model, year, body style, as well as actual mileage and the vehicle's condition.

  • Once you have a sense of what your car is worth, you’re ready to move on to Step 2. If your car is worth less than you’d hoped for, consider trading it into a car dealership. You may be able to get more value for your car if offloading it is part of the purchase of a new or used vehicle.

Step 2: Gather the Appropriate Documentation

Note: Each state has its own laws regarding auto sales. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws. You can find necessary information on your state's Department of Motor Vehicles website. That being said, vehicle sales in virtually all states will require the following documents:

  • Title: Upon completion of the sale, you will sign the vehicle’s title over to the new owner. If the title is held by a bank, be sure to have the bank to sign over the title once the sale is complete.

    • If applicable, list of any advertisements for the vehicle that the car has an outstanding balance. The process of transferring the title for a bank-owned car can be more complex. Transparency with any prospective buyer, therefore, will help the sale go smoothly.

    • Pro tip: Do any and all paperwork regarding the transfer of title at the bank that holds the title. You can also hire an escrow service to hold the title and manage the transferring of funds and title between you and your buyer. Escrow services generally charge a commission or a fee for their services, however, do not be put off by this extra expense. The extra protection is often worth the extra price.

  • Maintenance Records: You should have records and receipts documenting all of the maintenance and repairs done on the vehicle. Assuming you've properly maintained the vehicle, these records can help you sell the car for the highest possible price because they provide written proof that the car has been properly taken care of.

    • If you don’t have maintenance records, you should be able to get copies of the documents from the dealer or mechanic(s) that you’ve used for service.

  • Bill of sale: This documents the terms and conditions of the sale and can release you from certain liabilities related to the transaction.

  • Release of liability: This protects you from financial liability for any damages or car-related issues incurred after the sale of the vehicle. 

  • Warranty or “as is” documents: If the car is still under warranty, be sure to include all documents pertaining to the warranty coverage. If the car has no warranty, be sure to include language in the contract that makes it clear that the buyer will assume all responsibility for repairs and damages.

Step 3: Prepare the Car

In order to sell any car, it should be:

  • Thoroughly clean and presentable for photographs. A cleaner car is a more attractive one to buyers, especially if you are listing it online. Cleaning the car should include:

    • Washing and waxing the exterior

    • Washing floor mats

    • Cleaning tires and rims

    • Cleaning ashtrays and any other car compartments

    • Washing windows

  • Up to date on maintenance. Change any old fluids, rotate tires, etc. Be sure to save receipts for all services to show potential buyers. If the car needs new tires or other “wear and tear” services you can either have the work done ahead of time in hopes of a higher sale price or inform potential buyers of the needed repairs before agreeing to a sale.

  • Photographed. Take pictures, lots of pictures. You should have multiple shots from different angles of the exterior, interior, wheels, and engine. Even if you end up not including all photos in advertisements, it is a good idea to have extra photos to show potential buyers upon request.

Step 4: Advertising Your Car

Make a game plan regarding where you want to advertise your vehicle. Advertisements to consider include websites, flyers, newspapers, social networks, word of mouth, and for sale signs in the car’s window.

Any for sale sign should include your phone number and the vehicle’s asking price. Reputable internet sites include: eBay Motors, Cars.com, Autotrader.com, Kelley blue book, or Craigslist -- see our Craigslist Guide at the end of this guide for tips on protecting yourself from fraud should you choose this method of selling.

Advertisements for the vehicle, in any venue, should include the following:

  • Description of the seller and reason for selling

  • Seller profile picture (optional)

  • Asking price--be sure to also indicate if the price is firm or if you are willing to negotiate (i.e. “or best offer”)

  • Actual mileage

  • The condition of the vehicle

  • Vehicle history (accidents, damage, etc.)

  • Modifications, upgrades, or repairs, if applicable

  • VIN number--this helps potential buyers order a vehicle history report if desired.

  • Number of owners

  • Photographs

Step 5: Interacting with Potential Buyers

In general, buying and selling a car on your own is a safe process. However, it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with strangers. Therefore, we recommend the following guidelines for interacting with potential buyers:

  • Answer questions from interested parties by email or phone

  • Only set up test drives with serious buyers

  • Look out for fraud

  • Require any interested buyer’s full name

  • Clearly identify which forms of payment you will accept checks and money orders come with more risk than cash, PayPal, etc.

  • Determine if potential buyers live in your area. This makes payment and arranging for test drives easier

Tips for Arranging Test-Drives:

  • Pick a safe, central location in a public place during the day

  • Ask to see potential buyer’s license

  • Accompany interested buyers on the test drive

  • Consider asking a friend or family member to attend as well, if possible

Step 6: Negotiating the Sale

Assuming you are willing to negotiate the price, here are some tips for negotiating the highest price:

  • Don’t be afraid to make a counteroffer in response to the buyer’s initial offer

  • Decide beforehand the lowest price you are willing to accept and stick to it

  • Consider negotiating a price before meeting at the seller’s bank or credit union to finalize the sale

Step 7: Finalizing the Sale

Here are some things to remember as you finalize the deal. If you agree to accept a cashier's check, be sure to accompany the buyer to their bank to get your money. After receiving payment, make sure to do the following:

  • Complete the bill of sale

  • Sign over the title

  • Get a release of liability signed and submit to DMV (if required)

  • Provide maintenance record copies (be sure to black out personal info)

  • Include any additional paperwork required by your state

  • Hand over keys and copies

What Does "as-is" Mean in a Bill of Sale?

Don't be surprised if a bill of sale template includes an "as is" clause. This clause will stipulate that the transferred property has been inspected by the purchaser and that the seller disclaims any warranty as to the condition of the property. Thus, the free bill of sale form will affirm that the purchaser is knowingly buying the property in its existing condition at the point of sale. This is perfectly normal and should not cause any alarm if it is included in a bill of sale template.

A bill of sale is an important legal document that accurately documents the transaction between two parties in the sale of personal property. By now, you should have a clear understanding of the benefits a bill of sale serves for both the buyer and the seller. Though it serves as an important legal document, free templates can be found throughout the internet, saving you both time and money.

CA DMV Bill of Sale Resources

A Step-by-Step Process of Writing a Vehicle Bill of Sale

Step 1 - Buyer and Seller Information:

In this section, the form identifies the buyer and seller of the transaction. In this section, provide the date that the vehicle is being transferred. In addition, provide the seller’s name and full address. Once this information has been provided, input the buyer’s name, and full address.

Next, enter the total price of the vehicle that has been received by the seller.

Step 2 - Vehicle Information

Enter the specific information about the vehicle. This includes the vehicle’s make, model, year, odometer, body type, VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) Number, and where the vehicle is being sold. In addition, provide the form of payment that will be exchanged for the vehicle.

Step 3 - Odometer Statement

Enter the vehicle’s odometer reading. This statement certifies that this is the correct mileage of the vehicle to the best of the seller’s knowledge and that as far as he or she is aware, no alterations have been performed to the odometer reading.

In addition, this section also allows the seller to declare whether or not the vehicle is being sold “As-Is”, without any warranties or if the vehicle will come with some sort of warranty. If the vehicle comes with a warranty, the seller may input the Limited Warranty Terms below.

 

Step 4 - Signatures:

Declare the date that the vehicle transfer is being commenced. Once this date is declared, ensure that both the buyer and the seller sign and date the agreement.

If your state requires a Witness to attest the execution of this agreement, provide the following information of your Witness:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date
  • Witness’ Signature

How American is Your State's Favorite Car? 

Map of America's state car preferences.

Methodology

Our team at FormSwift created a map to show how American each state’s car preferences are. We culminated each state’s most sold vehicle and determined whether the brand of vehicle was American in origin or not.  

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Sample Vehicle Bill of Sale

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Sample Vehicle Bill of Sale

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