How to Accept a Partial Payment for a Car

by Shanan Miller

You can accept a partial payment on a car, but you should cover all of your bases to protect yourself from non-payment or the loss of you car by signing the car over before full payment is made. In addition, if you are taking only a partial payment for a vehicle, you will have to cease efforts to sell the car. Draw up your own paperwork before allowing partial payment--this way you can protect yourself from loss in case your buyer does not finish paying.

Fully discuss payment with your buyer before accepting a partial payment. Accept your payment only in cash--do not take a personal or business check. If you are accepting a bank of certified check, call the bank to verify that it is real and do not use the phone number from the check--look up the phone number yourself to verify the funds.

Discuss with your buyer when the whole payment is due. If your partial payment is only for a deposit, decide and discuss with the buyer whether it is refundable or not. Do not sign over the title to the buyer until payment is received in full.

Draw up a letter from your computer or hand write a receipt and agreement that you and the buyer will sign. State the date on the agreement, your name and address, the buyer's name and address and the amount accepted on the stated date. Note the vehicle's VIN (vehicle identification number) year, make, model and mileage and whether the deposit is refundable or not.

Continue with your agreement by stating when the final amount is due. The following sentence should discuss what happens if payment is not due. For example, you can state the buyer will lose her deposit and that the vehicle will be advertised for sale again. State how payment was received for the deposit and how the remainder due will be paid, whether in cash, bank or certified check.

Read the agreement over completely before signing along with the buyer. For more security, you may want to have the agreement notarized. Write up two agreements, make a copy if possible, or print off two agreements from your computer--make sure you and the buyer provide your signatures on both copies and each have a copy for your records.


  • close Do not accept payment from someone you have not met. There are many scams targeting vehicle owners who are trying to sell a car.

About the Author

Shanan Miller covers automotive and insurance topics for various websites, blogs and dealerships. She has extensive automotive experience, including auction, insurance, finance, service and management positions. Miller has worked for dealer sales events around the United States and now stays local as a sales and leasing consultant for a dealership.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera paying image by Albert Lozano from