Whether you’re getting ready to upgrade your current car and buy a new one or simply want to get rid of your extra car that spends too much time in the garage, now is a good time to sell a car. When you want to sell a car, there’s always a certain amount of administrative work that needs to be taken care of before you can complete the sale.
There are a few extra things to take care of in California, but our guide will walk you through the process.
Today, we’re going to walk you through the entire process of selling a car in California: from when and where to get the best price for your car, to ensure a safe transaction for both buyers and sellers.
How to Sell a Car In California Easily: Step-By-Step Guide
So here’s a step to step guide on how to sell a car in California. Take your time to go through it.
Step 1: Have Your Title in Order
You’ll need to make sure your title is in good standing. If you don’t have a lien, you’ll be just fine. However, there are specific scenarios where you may need to do some extra paperwork.
For instance, if you need to replace a lost or damaged title, you’ll need to submit an Application for Duplicate Title or Paperless Title (REG 227). And if there are any errors on your existing title, you’ll need to have those rectified as well.
This includes the following steps:
· The pink slip: it is also called the car title. It gives you the right to sell your car
· Make arrangements with your lender if you still owe on the car
· Check the department of motor vehicle website to see the other required document for listing your car for sale.
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Step 2: Get a valid smog certification.
If you want to sell your car in California, you’ll need to get a smog certification. There are certain situations where you may be exempt from this process. If you have an electric car, your car is less than eight years old, or is from 1975 or older, you shouldn’t need to submit a smog certification.
In most cases, however, you’ll need to go to a STAR station that sets the smog certification standards for CA to get a valid smog certification. The smog certification is valid for 90 days, so make sure it lines up with when you’re planning on selling your car.
Step 3: Order Your REG 262 Form
In California, this is the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form, form REG 262. This form functions as a bill of sale and as a power of attorney and odometer disclosure, providing nearly all the information the buyer needs to register the car in their name.
Because form REG 262 has embedded security features, there is no printable version available online. You have to call the DMV at (800)-777-0133, and they will mail you the form.
To avoid this delay, make sure to order the form at least a week before listing your vehicle.
Step 4: Car Inspection
If you’re trying to sell your car in California, then it may be in your best interest to have a safety inspection performed on your car before listing it for sale. Many buyers will want to have a safety inspection performed before making their purchase, and a clean history report can demonstrate to prospective buyers that your car is worth their while.
Step 5: fix the small dent and make your car appealing
You need to give your car curb appeal when you’re trying to sell it. When a buyer shows up to see your car, you want them to take one look and say, “It looks great!”
You don’t have to fix every little dent and scratch, but wash and vacuum the car and remove all the junk that’s accumulated over the years.
Giving it a professional detail is good for newer, more expensive used cars. But the higher the price, the longer it will take to sell the car, and the gleam of the detailing will wear off after a few weeks.
Step 6: Set a price range
Selling a car in California is more than just paperwork. While completing the titles and registrations is essential, it’s about selling your car at a price that feels good for you.
A price that makes it okay to part with your vehicle. It’s a good idea to have a minimum price and maximum price in mind, so you have a range to negotiate.
Step 7: Create ads that sell
Now that you’ve got your car cleaned up, make sure you take good photos of your car. When the buyer sees great photos, they will feel more confident buying your car.
Good photos and lots of them will increase your car’s chances of selling. Take a lot of photos in various positions, including the driver’s seat, back seat, and trunk. There are many places to post an ad for cars for sale by owners in California.
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Some places are better to target than others so I am going to show you a few places to post your ads:
- · Craigslist: free and everywhere.
- · Autotrader: Rates start at $25 for a basic ad, but the website can be searched from anywhere in the country and tends to pull in serious buyers.
- · eBay Motors: You can auction off your car or buy an inexpensive ad.
- · Specialty sites: If you are selling a rare car, look for collector or club websites.
When writing your ad to sell cars in California, avoid repeating basic information such as the year, make, model, mileage, or price. Instead of repeating these details, provide additional options and special features. For example, you might mention that the car is a “clean title” or “just passed smog.”
Step 8: Screen your callers
When selling your used car, whether it’s on Craigslist or AutoTrader, you can save time and headaches by using a separate email account and getting a free Google Voice phone number just to use for selling a car privately.
If you’ve listed a low price for a popular car, you can expect lots of callers, so review the messages before deciding which one to contact. You might hear some sellers who sound like they’re calling multiple listings and have no intention of buying the cars.
You’ll know right away if they are serious buyers or not when you call them back after reviewing their message on your computer.
Step 9: Organize a test drive
You can meet at a nearby park for a test drive. Bring someone with you, just in case. Some cities have set up safe places for people to meet and complete the sale. Seeing is believing, so let them test drive your car.
Avoid the impulse to sell and simply respond to any of their questions. Only address problems requiring an immediate attention, not every last thing on the list.
Step 10: Close the deal
After a test drive, the prospective buyer will hopefully begin negotiating to buy your used car. Let the buyer open the negotiations with an offer then respond appropriately by accepting or countering. Negotiate slowly and repeat the numbers to ensure there is no
misunderstanding. Before you agree to a deal, make sure their payment source is secure, i.e., cash or cashier’s check only. If you still owe money on the loan, you might need to close the deal at your bank.
In most cases you’ll sign and date the title and give them a bill of sale. In many states, you will also be required to file a “release of liability” form to prove that you no longer own the car. Once you’ve completed these steps, the only thing left is to cancel your auto insurance policy — and perhaps start shopping for a new car.
Step 11: Complete the paper works
When you have found a buyer and you have agreed on a price, you will need to complete the necessary paperwork together. Confirm the price on title document and ensure that both parties are in total agreement about all aspects of the sale. If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, also record mileage on the REG 262 form.
After a buyer has signed your purchase agreement and you’ve received their check, you need to proceed as follows with the California DMV to sell a car in California. You can fill out the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability online within 5 days of the sale.
To complete the process, you’ll need to have the seller’s full name and address, the VIN number, and license plate numbers. Both you as the seller and the buyer need to formally submit documents and pay the required fees to make it official with the DMV.
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Frequently asked questions about how to sell a car in California easily
- Get your Paperwork in Order.
- Go to the Car Wash.
- Take (the right) Photos.
- Check Your Vehicle’s Value.
- Consider Condition & History Reports.
- Draft a Compelling Description.
- Post the “Vehicle for Sale” Offer Online.
- Make it Official.
In most states, you need to fill out a bill of sale or other similar forms to legally transfer ownership of the vehicle.
In California, this is the Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form, form REG 262
Both the seller and the buyer will need to fill out the title and REG 262 form. Then accept the buyer’s payment, take off the license plates, and both parties will need to report the sale to the DMV online or in person.
According to the DMV: Anytime you sell or transfer ownership of a vehicle, the seller has to file a Release of Liability. The new owner has to register the vehicle within ten days.
In terms of buying a vehicle and turning around and selling it without registering it, this is against the law, but there are exemptions
In most states, used car sales are understood to be “as is.” This means the buyer understands that if something goes wrong after the car is driven away, it’s entirely his or her responsibility.
That means that, as a seller, you’re not responsible for the car after it’s sold.
California has strict requirements for selling a car, but our guide is here to make things as painless as possible. We started by explaining exactly what you’re required to do, as well as the paperwork and fees.
If you want to sell your car fast, this is your ultimate guide to making the sale in California. With so many options, getting cash for your car shouldn’t be a problem. Right now, is the best time to sell your car and get a great deal on something you love. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
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