how to sell a car in california how to sell a car in california

12 Simple Steps to Sell a Car in California

After you read this article, buying a car will definitely seem better than selling a car because of so many intricacies involved.

California is America’s largest vehicle market which requires qualifying cars to be sold.

There are various ways and dos and don’ts to consider while selling a car. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to sell a car in California

how to sell a car in california
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How to Sell a Car in California: 12 Steps 

Step 1: The Decision to Sell

Before actually knowing about how to sell, let’s first discuss “Is it a good time to sell my car in California.” The reason we bring this up is that dealers would like to know about the details of the used car.

Step 2: Get Your Paperwork in Order

When you sell a vehicle, the first thing you need to get in hand is your paperwork in order and understand what documents you need to ensure the sale goes smoothly.

Visit the DMV website and carefully go through the handbook to know in detail about the procedure.

You’ll need various documents like :

1. Current vehicle title

2. The buyer’s signature

3. The signature of the seller

You also can mail your paperwork to the DMV office at:

PO Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269

Step 3: Clean your Vehicle

clean your car
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It is important first to clean your vehicle and present it in the best way possible, from outside as well as inside. Cleaning your car could make all the difference in terms of price and how fast it will sell.

Step 4: Get a Smog Check

In most cases, the California DMV requires a smog check from an authorized test station. A Smog test is a test of the proper functioning of the vehicle and engine systems.

California has had its long-lasting and attentive ‘smog vehicle ‘program for a while now.

In most cases, California requires having a smog test certificate for the car to be sold. The smog certificate will be valid for 80 -90 days.

Vehicles that meet the following criteria do not require a smog certificate.

1. Vehicle manufactured before 1975

2. Automobiles powered by natural gas cars

3. Electric-powered vehicles

4. Automobiles less than eighty years old

5. Diesal run cars made before 1898

6. Diesal run car over 14000 pounds.

Step 5. Set a Price Range

Determining the price range in California is not easy it is much more than just paperwork. It’s about fixing the price that is accurate for the new owner.

Setting an average price range by negotiating the maximum and minimum range is a good idea.

Step 6: Listing Your Car and Paying Fees

list you car online
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If your car is in good condition, the best way is to market it online in clubs where members are more interested in it.

Online sales are the best option to make a market by reaching out to a wider audience and selling the car at a higher value.

Make sure you list all the information as possible, including the engine condition and any other modifications that you made.

Also Read:

Top 4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Insurance 

Step 7: Get an Inspection

You must get your car inspected by a licensed auto mechanic. The buyers and sellers have to agree on where and when the inspection will be held.

If the inspection finds any issue regarding the car, the best option would be to keep a report for your record.

car engine
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Vehicle inspection is usually done by the buyer to make sure everything is good to go with the car. If the buyer doesn’t ask for a vehicle inspection, it is still advised for you to opt for an inspection and keep a record of your car’s history.

To learn more about vehicle inspection laws, click here.

Step 8: Disclose Odometer Reading

Odometer readings should be recorded as the number of miles on a car can affect its value, so they should be recorded as titles.

The California DMV requires you to record its reading on the day of its sale.

Step 9: Gathering All Paperwork

Fill out the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262) form for a transfer of title on the car.  This form isn’t available for download as it is printed on security paper.

Therefore you have to directly acquire a physical copy from the DMV office. The vehicle identification number must be included. When selling any used cars in California, it is required for the seller to complete a notice of transfer and release all liability.

To complete the form, you’ll need the following:

1. New owner’s name and address

2. License plate number

3. Vehicle identification number

4. Title certificate, and if you don’t have the original one make sure to fill out Duplicate Title Form (Reg 227).  

fill out paperwork
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Every state has its requirements for selling used cars. The following documents are needed for selling your car in California:

1. Transfer forms

2. Repairs and parts receipts

3. Car owner’s handbook

4. Maintenance records

5. Documentation for any valid warranties

6. Proof of reservation and purchase receipts

7. Car’s license plate number

8. MOT certificate history

9. Statement of Facts(Reg 256)

10. Vehicle Emission Certificate

In addition, you also need to fill out the following necessary paperwork with the buyer:

1. Commercial vehicles: Form REG -4008

2. Error on your car title: Form REG -101

3 Care with lienholders: Form REG-166

4. Transfer ownership: Reg 262

5. Bill of Sale: Reg 153

Make sure you signed all the documents by the buyer and then only hand over the keys and other relevant documents of the vehicle.

Step 10: Fill Out All Required Forms and Report to the DMV

Download the original California certificate and print the forms that are needed. This is the best time to disclose the car’s lienholder if you have one.

After you fill out all the paperwork, make sure you submit all the documents to the DMV department. You have five days to report to the transfer.

You will need the car’s license plate and the new owner’s name and address. To make sure that the car belongs to you, having your title certificate and other documentation beforehand is advised. 

Step 11: Pay Necessary Fees and Taxes

Registration fees, as compared to taxes, are even more, and depending on various factors, different fees can be charged. In California, as stated, the sales tax on new and used vehicles is approximately 7.25%.

You may be required to pay smog abatement fees according to the smog certificate. There are several estimated fees like transfer fees paid by the buyer, taxes, title fees, parking tickets, and more. Depending on the odometer disclosure as well, the buyer has to pay specific fees.

pay fees
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The California DMV states that all the paperwork and fees must be paid within ten days of the car’s selling date.

Fees are based on the following:

1. Registration fees

2. Car’s license plate number

3. California Highway patrol fees

4. Whether you have any unpaid parking violations or any repairs from accidents.

Step 11: Acquiring a Bill of Sale (REG 135)

In most parts of the state, a bill of sale is required for the private sale of cars. It is considered proof of transaction, and it is beneficial to both the seller and the buyer.

As a seller, a bill of sale acts as a receipt and frees you from all other liabilities.

How do I Get a Bill of Sale?

You can get a bill of sale in California by:

1. Requesting the DMV office to print a copy of a form.

2. Visiting the DMV website and downloading a bill of sale, and printing it out to be used as a valid certificate as a bill of sale. 

bill of sale
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What Information Do I Need for the Bill of Sale?

You need the following information at hand to acquire a bill of sale:

1. Full name of both the seller and buyer of the vehicle.

2. Contact number of both individuals.

3. Identification number of the vehicle

4. Odometer reading

5. The vehicle model and trim type.

If you are a private seller or buyer in California, then a bill serves as an important legal document for a safeguard that can protect you from fraud.

Here are some points about how the bill of sale benefits as security:

1. Bills of sale verify the ownership.

2. A seller may make a false claim or a claim on the property, so with the bill of sale, the seller can show proof of agreement of the sale

3. It can serve as proof if ownership disputes arise.

4. It also serves as a document that relieves the seller of any liabilities that may arise after the car is sold.

Step 12: Getting Payments and Transferring Ownership

Before handing over your car, be sure to negotiate and agree upon a price. Inspect the buyer’s official id to make sure you don’t get scammed. 

Bottom Line

Now that you know how to sell your car the easy way, all the best!

To read more from USA Mocha, click here.

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by somya909