10 Steps How to Sell a Car in California

When it comes to selling a car in California, there is always some administrative work to consider. This administrative work may or may not include the California bill of sale template, smog certification, duplicate title form, etc. 

If you are intending to sell your automobile in California and need some pointers on what procedures to follow, here is our guide on how to sell a used car in California. 

Let us start!

What Documents Do You Need To Sell Your Car In California?

Are you wondering what do I need to sell my car in California? Consider the list below: 

  1. California DMV – Fill out the official Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) transfer forms.
  2. Certifications – Get a smog certification and submit transfer forms.
  3. Driver’s Permit – Frequently used as identification proof.
  4. Others – Any valid warranties or as-is documents
  5. Records – Maintenance chronicles & Odometer reading
  6. Title – For you to sell it, the title must be in your name.

Ten Tips on How to Sell a Used Car in California

Getting What You Need to sell A Car… 

Step 1: Obtain the DMV transfer forms. 

When an automobile changes hands in California (whether sold, inherited, given as a gift, etc.), the DMV considers it a “transfer.” All the forms are applicable by the DMV to document transfers. To finalize the transaction officially, you will need official copies of the following forms: 

  • REG 227 Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form 
  • REG 262 California Application for Duplicate Title

Step 2: If you are Vehicle Is not Exempt, Be Prepared to Produce a Smog Certification. 

Selling a large number of vehicles need current accreditation from a STAR smog test station. You may look for STAR stations near you by clicking here. Smog certificates are only valid for 90 days; therefore, you must complete the transaction within that period or be re-tested. Not that many automobiles do not require smog certification when sold. Vehicles that do not require testing include:

  • “Hybrid” automobiles
  • Automobiles that operate on electricity
  • Diesel-powered automobiles
  • Natural gas cars
  • Vehicles manufactured before 1975
  • Vehicles that are less than four years old

Step 3: Prepare To Have Your Vehicle Examined. 

Before exchanging any money for an automobile, the great majority of consumer guidelines advise purchasers to get it examined by a professional expert. The buyer usually must pay for or undertake the examination. However, it is still your automobile at this stage, so you may need to come up with a solution to suit the buyer’s requirements. If you do not want to go through the hassle of driving the automobile to a technician, consider hiring a mobile inspection service to examine it on your premises.

Keep all inspection documents, especially if the mechanic discovers an issue that may be the reason for worry.

Step 4: Expect To Pay A Few Small Costs. 

Both the seller and buyer pays will vary depending on the facts of your scenario. When you apply to transfer ownership, DMV calculates the costs you owe. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fee for a duplicate title
  • Sales tax (depends on the county and city)
  • Transfer fee ($15 + tax)

Step 5: Under Certain Unique Situations, Obtain A Variety Of Forms. 

The documents shown above will suffice for the majority of car sales. However, in rare cases, further paperwork is required. 

  • If you are selling a commercial vehicle, you may require Form REG 4008, Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight.
  • You will require Statement of Facts Form REG 256 if you sell to a family member.
  • If your vehicle is subject to a lien, you must get the lienholder’s release notarized for security features. There are other spaces on the transfer forms above for the lienholder to sign.
  • If your name is misspelled or incorrectly stated on your automobile title, you will want a Statement of Error or Erasure.  
  • If your vehicle is without a personalized license plate, registration stickers are available.
  • If your vehicle is missing a license plate, registration stickers, or other vital documents, you will require Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, and Documents Form REG 156.

Making the Sale.

Step 6: Fill Out All Of The Necessary Fields. 

Download the Original California Certificate of Title Video and print the forms shown above. Call the DMV and request Form REG 262, allowing enough time to arrive in the mail. If your vehicle is encumbered by a lien, now is an excellent time to get the lienholder’s release.

Step 7: With The Buyer, Go With The Documents And Sign Them. 

This is your time to clear up any misconceptions and settle any disagreements. The sale price (recorded on REG 227) is the most crucial element to study and agree on, but it is a good idea to look over all of the paperwork together to review an agreement thoroughly.

In addition to completing the documents jointly, you will need to sign the title of your automobile to prove that you are relinquishing ownership of it.

Step 8: Remember To Provide The Odometer Reading. 

Because the number of kilometers driven by an automobile might affect its monetary worth, this information is essential. Take notice of the odometer reading on REG 262 and the title, and ensure that the potential buyer sees and understands it. It is a crime to falsify this information, fail to declare it, or tamper with the odometer. However, if the car is ten years or older, you do not need to do this. 

Step 9: Fill Out All Forms And Return Them To The DMV. 

After you and your buyer have gone through all of the paperwork, hand it over to a DMV employee. The official records will accept your request for a document transfer.

Step 10: Notify The DMV Of The Transfer. 

You have five days as the seller to record the transfer. Fortunately, you may do this online or at the DMV while submitting your papers. You will need the license plate number, the last five digits of the VIN, and the name and address of the new owner.

The buyer must also notify the car’s transfer. This means he/she has 10 days.

Final Thoughts

The vehicle industry is booming right now, with prices and demand greater than ever. Whether selling a used car in California or willing to upgrade your vehicle, now is an excellent time to buy a new car.


Learning how to sell your car in California might be difficult, but with little patience and determination, you can make it a win-win. You might get the most out of selling your car right now and put money back in your pocket.

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