If I have the title to my vehicle and a spare key, can I go get my car back from a botched sale?

UPDATED: Aug 20, 2011

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If I have the title to my vehicle and a spare key, can I go get my car back from a botched sale?

If not what do I need to do? Report it stolen? I made verbal arrangements to sell my vehicle earlier today for $1000. The title is in my name and I have not transferred it yet, nor has a bill of sale been made. The purchaser made a $400 deposit on the vehicle and we have a carbon copy receipt for that. He is now harassing me and threatening to call the police because he says I “stole” the bill of sell from him, and that the agreement was to purchase the vehicle for $400 total. There was never a bill of sale, and that was not the agreement. I want to get my vehicle back from him because he’s trying to get out of paying the other $600.

Asked on August 20, 2011 Arkansas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the vehicle is still in your name but you have already given possession of it to the buyer who is now trying to re-negotiate the sales price from $1,000 down to $400, you have a problem even though you have documents showing a $400 deposit. Hopefully you have another document signed by the buyer showing the purchase price as being $1,000.

What you need to do is try and return the $400 deposit back to the buyer in exchange for the car's return to your possession where you and the buyer sign a document "rescinding the sale". This suggestion essentially unwinds the deal placing you and the buyer in a position if the sale never happened.

The threats by the buyer calling the police as leverage upon you in a civil dispute is wrong and could be considered "extortion".

In the future, you need to have a written agreement signed by the buyer and yourself setting forth the total purchase price and references to partial payments. All payments need to be by check with signed receipts by all showing the outlay of monies in the transaction.

Good luck.

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