Everything You Need to Know


When you buy a new or used vehicle, you need to sign several important legal documents before handing over the keys.

One of these documents is called the buyer’s order, which contains the agreed terms of the sale.

Understanding the buyer’s order and what it means is helpful before starting the transaction.

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What is the buyer’s order?

The buyer’s order contains detailed information about the car you are buying, including the VIN, color, make, model, options, features and warranties. This includes information about both you as the buyer and the dealer you are buying the car from.

You will also find a fully detailed list of all the costs you will pay as part of the vehicle purchase, including the final negotiated car price, plus any taxes, documentation costs and dealer fees. If you trade in a vehicle as part of the sale, the buyer’s order must also include your trade in information.

The buyer’s order is a legally binding contract. This means that if either you or the dealer fails to go through with the sale, the other party will have legal recourse. However, you do not pay for the vehicle until you review, approve and sign the buyer’s order.

When reviewing the buyer’s order, it is extremely important to ask questions and request changes where necessary before moving forward. Take some time to review the contract line by line and in full before you agree to sign. A representative of the dealer should be able to review the contract with you and explain any details.

Buying a car often involves a lot of paperwork, whether you’re buying a new or used vehicle. Here are some of the documents you may need to sign when you are at the dealership:

  • Deed of sale (also called the purchase agreement)
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement
  • Damage Disclosure Statement (for used cars)
  • Your loan agreement
  • Trade in information
  • Extended warranty contract
  • Manufacturer or dealer rebates
  • Truth in Lending Disclosure

Understanding the documents you will be signing before going to the dealership can help speed up the process of purchasing a vehicle.

However, it is always a good idea to thoroughly review any legal documents you are asked to sign.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take as much time as you need to read through the contracts before signing.

Head shot by Elizabeth Rivelli

Finance & Insurance Editor

Elizabeth Rivelli is a freelance writer with over three years of experience covering personal finance and insurance. She has extensive knowledge of various lines of insurance, including auto insurance and property insurance. Her byline has appeared in dozens of online finance publications, such as The Balance, Investopedia, Reviews.com, Forbes and Bankrate.