Bought used car, doesn't pass smog, can't xfer title

I live in southern California (Los Angeles), I bought a 1992 Honda Accord from the street. The car seemed fine, had issues but I thought it would be okay. The seller, whom I found out later is not the owner, showed me the smog pass from 4 months ago. BUT, the car failed the emissions test, BADLY. Gross polluter.

So what can i do now? Is there a way to get the title transferred without the damn Smog Check? I’d like to at least be able to junk the thing and get a few hundred bucks back. Right now the car is still in the owner’s name since it needs the smog check. Help!

fix the car

“The seller, whom I later found out is not the owner, showed me the smog pass from 4 months ago.”

Why would you buy a car from someone who was not the owner? That’s fraud 101. I would get the police involved and try to get my money back. I hope you can prove the person sold you the car.

I think you’re stuck on this. While I’m not familiar with CA law on this in regards to your comment about the seller not being the owner, you might do some investigation as to whether or not that seller is curbstoning/title jumping. That’s illegal in all or most states I believe.

The fly in the ointment on that is that the seller may now claim they know nothing about the transaction at all; especially if you have no paperwork with their signature on it.

I think you’ll just have to fix the car. Can you tell us or show us by picture the emissions report?

Just because it failed badly doesn’t mean it’s going to be expensive to fix. One fouled out spark plug can cause your tailpipe hydrocarbon emissions to go over 5 times the limit. See what it will take to fix the car. There’s nothing hard or complicated about a 92 Accord. Not only will it pass smog it will run better.

As to the seller not being the owner, I don’t think that’s relevant here.

You should be able to transfer the title if you register it as non operational.

If it didn’t pass the test, the CEL light must be on…or has been disabled.

Get the codes read and post them here along with the engine size and mileage of the car.

But if you do have paper work and can prove fraud, I’d try to get my money back.


Maybe I’m a little confused but if you can’t transfer the title, you didn’t buy anything. If you gave him the money already, try to get it back. They can’t sell a car that the title can’t be transferred on. Or fix it whatever is easier. IMHO.

In California, it is illegal to sell a car without passing smog. Check the DMV site, get your ducks inline and then call the seller. They are probably a curbside flipper, tell him/her you would report this to the DMV. I hope you have all the seller’s info. I think the DMV site would tell you what legal recourse you have.

As mentioned above, fixing the car is an option, it is just my gut feeling that if this was an easy fix the seller would have already done it.

10 years ago, I bought a '92 Accord too. Everything was working fine, until a day after purchase, the AC was out. I figured the seller had charged the gas on the test drive day and now it was all leaked. I called the seller, confronted him on wanting to pull a quick one and reminded him that I know where he lives. I had my money back in 4 hours.

The seller, whom I found out later is not the owner,

Found out later? Anyone selling me a car has to pony up their driver’s license and title so I can see they are the registered owner.

Hopefully you can get your money back but it doesn’t seem likely. May have to chalk this one up to a lesson learned and take any lumps you have coming…

The big issue is whether this seller even provided their real name, has a fixed address, and whether or not this car deal took place in a parking lot or on the side of the street.

A curbstoner or title jumper going by a certain John Doe name may not even exist or may have booked out for parts unknown.

Did you get the title for the car when you bought it? If not, you should contact the police and see if it is a stolen vehicle. If it is, you need to show that you didn’t steal it. Approaching the police at least makes them more receptive to your story. You can try to find the seller, but I bet he is nowhere to be found.

In Oregon the title has to be transferred after sale in less than 30 days. If it is not it is subject to a $50 fine. I know firsthand California has different laws especially concerning emissions but that’s another story. I could buy your car today and title it in Oregon as long as the title was clean. Any time I buy a vehicle with a second hand title I require a bill of sale. Signed with the seller’s driver license number.

Here in Calif the DVM has some strange title rules when purchasing cars or even junking them. I seem to recall hearing a complaint that an owner was required to get the car to pass smog before he could junk it. I suspect the rules are designed to prevent various emissions scams from occurring. The bottom line is a phone call has to be made to the DMV. Even better would be to make an appointment and go there in person, so you can show them the documentation you have.

You should definitely contact the authorities. Jt has made and excellent oint.

My guess is that the money has disappeared along with the seller… who’s probably using a different name now. You may end up considering this an expensive lesson. Buying a car “on the street” is risky at best.

Was the tab at the bottom of the title sent in by the real owner when they sold it to the curb stoner? If so his name (or the first of the two curb stoners names before him) should be on record with the CA DMV.

Titles exist to protect buyers from situations like this. It is entirely possible that this is a stolen car.

I bought the car on the street, saw an ad on craigslist, it wasnt a dealer or even parked in a driveway. The guy gave me the pink slip and it matched the VIN on the car. The car IS registered until June 2015. Looks guys, I already got crapped on by half my family for buying this POS. I don’t really need any more. I bought the car, I f**ed up, but its here in my driveway now. I just need to know what I can do now.

You need to call the DMV and find out what you need to do. Asking amateurs across the country will not get you a definitive answer. It has only gotten you several plausible guesses.

Did you really think this forum would provide better answers than the CA DMV?

no title? take it to the scrap yard in pcs, you ll get more money that way any way