How to Sell a Car in California, as Is [In 10 Easy Steps]

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

If you’re trying to sell your car in California, chances are you’re having a hard time getting rid of your vehicle. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can sell your car in the Golden State quickly, and simply as is. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to sell a car in California

[sc_fs_faq sc_id=”fs_faqciuzzbh0z” html=”false” headline=”h2″ img=”” question=”How to sell a car in California as is?” img_alt=”” css_class=”” ]Here’s what you’ll need to sell your car as is in California: California Application For Duplicate Title Form REG 227 Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form REG 262 Smog Certification Most consumer guides would recommend that the buyer have their car inspected by a licensed technician before it’s sold Depending on what your situation is, there will be fees that the buyer and you might have to pay. These fees can include but aren’t limited to a $15 transfer fee.[/sc_fs_faq]How To Sell A Car In California: Gather What You Need

There are a couple of forms, certificates, and titles you will need to obtain before selling your car in California. Here’s a more detailed breakdown. 

Official DMV Transfer Forms

Any time a car changes ownership in the state of California, whether it’s inherited, sold or given as a gift, the DMV will consider this a transfer. The DMV will use certain forms that document transfers. You will need to get the following transfer forms. 

California Application For Duplicate Title Form REG 227

You can simply download and print this form online here. If you have your original title, you can use that and will not need a duplicate title form.  

Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form REG 262

You cannot get this form online since it needs to be printed on special security paper. To get this form you will have to contact the DMV and request that a copy is mailed to you.

If your car is more than 10 years old, then you will not need to disclose the odometer reading. In this case, you can download and print out a Power of Attorney REG 260 (PDF) form. or a Bill of Sale REG 135 (PDF) form instead. 

Smog Certification 

You should be prepared to show a smog certification if your car is not exempt. When you sell most cars, you will need a valid certification from a STAR smog test station. To get this, find a STAR station near you here

You smog certification lasts for 90 days, meaning you need to complete your sale during this time. If not, you will have to get your vehicle re-tested for smog.

There are certain cars that don’t need a smog test like cars that run on diesel, natural gas, electricity. Other cars that don’t need a smog test include Hybrid cars, cars less than four years old, or cars made before 1975. 

Your Car Might Need An Inspection 

Your car might need to be inspected before you sell in. Most consumer guides would recommend that the buyer have their car inspected by a licensed technician before it’s sold. It is usually the buyer’s responsibility to pay for this inspection.  

Since it is still your car during this time, you might need to work out an arrangement to accommodate any requests from the buyer. If you don’t want to go to a mechanic, you can get a mobile inspection.

You’ll want to keep any documentation from this inspection, especially if the mechanic finds any concerning issues. 

Be Prepared To Pay A Minor Fee

Depending on what your situation is, there will be fees that the buyer and you might have to pay. These fees can vary, and are determined when the transfer application is sent to the DMV.

These fees can include but aren’t limited to a $15 transfer fee, which is paid by the buyer. There could also be use tax, which depends on the city, this tax is also paid by the buyer. Lastly, there is a duplicate title fee. 

Other Forms You Might Need Under Certain Circumstances

For most car sales, you will only need the forms above. There are certain circumstances where you will need more forms. 

For example, if you are trying to sell a commercial vehicle, you might need a Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight or a Combined Gross Vehicle Weight Form REG 4008. 

If your car happens to be under a lien, then you need a lienholder’s release. There are sections on this form where you will need the lienholder’s signature. If your name is misspelled or there is a mistake on your car title, you will need a Statement of Error or Erasure REG 101.

If your car is missing any registration sticker, a license plate, or any other important documentation, then you will need an Application for Replacement Plates, Stickers, Documents Form REG 156.

Find A Buyer 

When it comes to selling your car, you have a couple of routes you can choose. Here are some of your options. 

Sell Privately

When you sell privately, the is usually the best way to get the most money for your car. The downside here is you will need to do a lot of research, prep and legal work on your end. There’s also the risk that the person you sell your car to could flake on you last minute, making you have to start this entire process again. 

Sell To A Dealership

Selling your car to a dealership is another option. This takes little to no effort on your end, and you are likely to walk away with cash in hand. The downside is you might not get the best possible deal for your car if you go this route. 

Sell To Cash Auto Salvage 

This is the most efficient way to sell your car, as Cash Auto Salvage will give you an instant cash offer for your car, truck, SUV or van online or on the phone. 

Make The Sale 

Once you have an interested buyer, there is still more work to do on your end. 

Review and Sign Forms With The Buyer

This would be the time to clarify any misunderstandings or differences with the buyer. It’s essential that you review and agree on the price of the car, but it’s also important to go over all other forms. You want to make sure that you and buyer have a total agreement on the sale. 

You will also need to sign your car’s title. This confirms that you are releasing ownership of your car. 

Disclose The Odometer Reading 

If your car is less than 10 years old, the number of miles that your car has traveled can impact the monetary value of your car. Make sure that you record your odometer reading on Reg 262, and that the buyer understands this reading. Giving a fake odometer reading is a crime. 

Submit All Forms To The DMV

When you and buyer have reviewed all the paper, you will turn all the forms over the DMV. This makes your transfer request officially registered and logged.

You will want to report this transfer to the DMV within five days on the transfer. You can do this online here. You will need the last five digits of the VIN, your car’s license plate number, and the new owner’s name and address. 

Sell Your Car Today  

Now that you know how to sell a car in California, start this process today. Make sure you have all the proper paperwork and forms ready and that you have a buyer ready to buy your vehicle. For more help on selling your used car, contact us today for a free, instant offer.

Share this!


About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

maximize cash offer on car

We'll buy your vehicle!

Wait! We REALLY Want Your Vehicle!

We pay up to $20,000 for cars, trucks, & SUV’s – no matter the condition. Get paid on the spot + free towing!

Or Call... 1-855-922-3095

There is no obligation to accept an offer.

Unable to verify mileage

Selecting “unable to verify” may decrease your offer and should only be selected if you cannot visually confirm the mileage of the vehicle upon inspection of the odometer.