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5 Must Do's When Selling a Car in California with Epic Results

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Charles Dickens once said, "I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time"

Charles Dickens may never have sold a Car in California, but his message is very clear - habits of punctuality, order and diligence are clearly important when you have an appetite for protecting your interests.

1. Smog

When you sell a car in California, you are required to smog your vehicle. This let's the buyer know your vehicle does not have problems with emissions. Problems with emissions can be costly such as replacing the catalytic converter. Another thing to consider, if your car has been sitting around awhile without being used, it's good practice to check if your catalytic converter is still attached to the vehicle. California is one of those states that has experienced a rise in theft of catalytic converters.

2. Title

I know this may sound obvious or as my Fiancé likes to say, "Common Sense". Having your title present when selling your car is necessary to satisfy the buyer. Do not sign the title before meeting with the buyer. You do not want to lose a signed title. Someone can take it to the DMV and register it to their name. This is the same even if the buyer is a dealer. I know, it's hard to believe that the sell may not go through, but their are too many things that could affect the buyers decision to purchase your vehicle. If everything goes as planned, and the buyer takes possession of your car, then at that time the both of you can sign the title. Don't forget to add the odometer (Mileage) reading at the time of sale.

3. Bill of Sale

I know, you already have the title, why in the world of documents would you need a Bill of Sale? A Bill of Sale helps support the Title with additional signatures. The DMV's Bill of Sale (Aka: REG 262/Available in person only) has a Power of Attorney section on the bottom. This helps the dealer to register your car without any delays. There is also another Bill of Sale available online.

4. Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability

I sold my car to a dealership many years ago. About six months later, I started receiving tickets in the mail. If I didn't file a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability, I would've been on the hook for the tickets. A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability is just what it says, it releases you from liability if something happens to your car when it is registered to you (Tickets, accidents, etc...). There are two ways for you to file a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. The first is to complete the red and white from located on the top of your title and mail it in to the address on the form. The second way is to file the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability online.

5. Choose a Buyer to Sell Your Car Too

Choosing a buyer to sell your car too is just as important as every other step discussed above. How you find your buyer, will be up to you. You can use many online resources to find a private party, or you can choose to sell to a dealer. Having worked for a dealer, I know with this current market, they are offering better prices than private parties. Just make sure your car is in the condition you say it's in. The dealer will check history reports and conduct thorough inspections of the vehicles mechanical state.

Happy Selling

Author Bio: David Briscoe is a Licensed Vin Verifier in California and Registration Service Owner for 11 years and a Business Office Associate for a California Dealership.


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