Steps to Buying A Car In California

Steps to Buying A Car In California

California being one of the most populated and largest states in the country attracts quite a large population towards itself, Los Angeles one of the most famous cities in the USA brings quite a fame with its name and people can find a good car deal there. Cities like Sacramento, San Francisco and any other city might even provide people of California with good car deals. 

Because of its popularity the state of California can provide you with any car model which might be even rare and tough to find. 

Here in California it’s pretty straightforward to buy a car whether from a car dealer, private party or auction.

Buying a used car in California- 

CPO ( certified preowned):- 

When “used” word is utilized in relation with cars the term “CPO” is used which stands for “ Certified preowned”. This term is used when the used cars are sold after going through a lot of inspection and preparation. The cars which are sold via manufacturer’s end using CPO  programme comes with an elongated history report, backing warranty and any other services which are used or either recovered while the past usage . 


  • While buying a vehicle in california you probably need to fill out a lot of forms and paperwork has to be submitted to DMV ( department of motor vehicles).
  •  All those paperwork includes bill of sale, vehicle registration, the vehicle title and application and smog certificate. 
  • If the car has been bought over loan then the loan documents by which the car has been bought are to be submitted too. 
  • The californian laws include the transfer of ownership and release of liability is required for the used vehicles. Currently California’s statewide sales tax on cars be it used or new is 7.25 percent, though city or county tax may be higher then the state tax. 
  • For a used vehicle a title transfer fee is paid of $15 within 30 days of buying a used car which is also known as PINK SLIP FEE. Car registration in California costs around $58 and this is a mandatory amount to be paid to get the car under the new owners’s possession.
  •  Many other fee included in buying a used vehicle in california includes $28 for california highway patrol, $1 for reflectorised license plate, $8 smog transfer fee and many more.

Check this – Used Audi A5 Is A Good Choice

Smog testing:-

Smog testing is one of the most important factors in buying a car in california. A licensed technician uses equipment to measure the amount of oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide which is been emitted by the car along with all hydrocarbons being pumped out. The smog test is done 90 days before passing the ownership to the new owner. The private sellers also have to let their vehicles pass through this test before selling them and they might have to pay a hundreds of dollars to meet the emission standards before handing it over to the new owner if the vehicle has failed these tests prior. 

California has made it easy for their people to buy a car, you can just enter the licensed number plate and that will let you know if the vehicle has passed the test or not.

The laws:- 

 The as-is law:- dealers in california can legally sell vehicles without repairing it and providing any warranty before selling it under the “as-is” law. Many times dealers offer to repair the vehicle after the sale under that condition make sure the sales person signs the agreement.  

Still California offers a two day cancellation policy to the buyer for the cars only which ranges from $40,000 or less. This cancellation period will allow the buyer to get back all the taxes or fees paid while buying the car.

Check this –  Read This Before Buying Used Buick Cascada

California lemon laws:- 

This law states that the vehicle to be sold should have a decent number of repairs while it was with the dealer or the manufacturer and should be following all the standard parameters stated by the californian government, if not so then the dealer or the seller will have to pay for the registration fee, sales taxes, repair fees or any other fees or taxes which were paid by the buyer. Otherwise the manufacturer will have to refund the buyer or will have to replace the purchase and the buyer can choose either. 

This law prevents the sale of lemons that are vehicles with manufacturing defects. If your vehicle is considered a lemon you can lodge a complaint against the seller. 

Buying a new car in California:- 

Buying a new car in California is almost the same as buying a used car in california as we discussed above. Buying a new car in California has a similar process as buying a car in any other state with only a little difference in the tax and fees associated with the process. California has always been very active in reducing the carbon footprints from vehicles and all the fees associated with buying from dealers and going green. 

Advertising fees:- 

These are included into the vehicle cost that buyer pays while buying the car and can vary significantly based on the what car model you are buying or which  city you are buying it from. The buyer can negotiate with the advertising fees and sometimes they can eliminate it completely. It is illegal for the dealer to hide this advertising fees. 

Sales taxes:- a 7.5% sales tax has to be paid by the buyer across the whole state and this amount might vary with the city or the county. 

Tile fee:- it is $21 here for new car which is $15 for a used car which is also known as pink slip fee.

The registration fees is $58 which you will have to pay along with the title fee. Both these fees goes hand in hand that is one needs other to approve the next. 

All the other taxes like $25 for California highway patrol, $8 smog transfer fee, zero emission sticker parking for $17 and many more depending on where you live and what zip code will fall in to your area. 

When we buy a new car in california from a licensed californian car dealers the buyers get Car buyer’s bill rights which gives a certain sense of protection to the buyer. 

Buyer’s disclosure- No charges may be added to your contract without full disclosure and your consent. Dealers must give you an itemised price list for optional “add-on” items such as service contracts, insurance, anti-theft devices, or other products.

People Also Read – The Buying Guide For Used Audi S6

Other requirements:-

You may also need:

The vehicles in california can be bought even on lease, this has some other rules and regulations to be followed;

  • Leased vehicles must be registered in the names of both the lessor and the lessee.
  • The lessor is designated as LSR; the lessee is designated as LSE. Certificates issued in 1985 or prior may show the lessee as “care of (c/o)” (the “c/o” was part of the address field).
  • If the input document does not have a designated space for the lessee address, the lessor must provide the lessee’s address on a Statement to Record Ownership (REG 101) form whenever it differs from the registered owner address shown on the application documents. If a REG 101 is completed, it must be the top document.

Popular cars in California:- 

Tesla model Y being the most popular model this year beating all the other competing brands. The sales of electric vehicles reached the highest to 15.1% in the last five years and Tesla made it possible with its latest model Y. 

Vehicle  New registration 
Tesla model Y  42,300
Tesla model 3  38,933
Toyota RAV4  31,599
Toyota Camry  28,740
Toyota Corolla 22,391

Now you all know what car to buy and how be it used or a brand new one.

Good to know before buying a car in favorite state in USA

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