Selling a Car



I am listing a car for sale. It is a 1989 Ford Ranger with matching shell. I am in CA and do not often sell my vehicles. The last two times I did, I did not ‘smog’ them before selling. The new owners successfully registered, and if needed, I suppose had them ‘smogged’. (the other vehicles were '84 and '88).

Do I have to smog this vehicle before selling? This issue has come up upon showing the truck.


From the California DMV:

Title Transfer and Smog Requirements
When you sell a vehicle that is four or fewer model years old, a smog certificate will not be required in order to transfer the title. The buyer will be charged a smog transfer fee of $8. If the vehicle sold is more than four model years old, the seller must provide evidence of a current smog certification except in any of the following situations:

The vehicle transfer occurs between a spouse, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
The vehicle was registered and biennial smog certification was submitted to the DMV within 90 days before the date the title transfer took place. A vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification.


The short answer is yes, you will have to smog it and it must pass. I am not sure if the car does not pass you might be able to get a written statement from the buyer that he/she is aware of the problem and will fix it.


You better contact your DMV to see what the law is since the law goes further then Michael is telling you. He doesnt deal with the legalites if the car is sold without a passing test / or with you knowing the car didnt pass the test (if that were to occur).

You could also look into selling it for parts if the car doesnt pass the test. Something else the DMV would be able to tell you about.


Once again you find issue with my post. I simply showed the OP what california DMV says. If he follows the law and gets the appropriate emmision certificate he will be fine. Unlike your recent purchase this seller wants to be informed of the law in advance. He is not wanting problems for himself or the buyer. By obtaining the smog certificate before he sells it he is following the law.
If he ignored my info and sold it without a smog check then he would have a problem. Do not assume that because someone is selling there used vehicle they are trying to swindle someone.
Also he has had at least one prospective buyer who also did there homework and is apparently not interested in buying a vehicle that does not have the proper paperwork. If all buyers were aware of and followed the law problems like yours would not have occured.



  1. We did not find an issue with your post. We found an issue with you only dealing with part of the law and we find it very hard to beleive that CA doesnt have alot more laws dealing with the emissions than the one you cited.

  2. You presume the truck will pass. What is if doesnt? and if it doesnt can he sell the car for parts? and put on the bill of sale selling for parts only? again he needs to find the law on this issue and you didnt deal with it.

  3. Buyers do not expect to get swindled when they buy a car in a state that is well known for its emissions standards so if he didnt get the emissions done; he needs to know the law if the car wont pass and he still sells the car.

  4. Maybe OP doesnt want to spend the money to get the test done as it may take more then 90 days to sell the truck and then he or the new buyer needs to get a new test done.

  5. You live in WA. We live in CO. We dont presume to know CA laws on selling cars so we are just trying to get the OP to think of other issues that might come up when OP tries to sell his car and you just dealt with the one stating get the emissions done 90 days before you sell it unless its going to a relative.


The original poster asked a simple question “Do I need to get my vehicle inspected before I sell it?”
I answered his question by saying yes and showing him the appropriate California law.
Why do you want to cloud the question by dragging up what happened to you.
If the OP has other questions he is capable of asking here or at the California DMV. My goal was to anwser the question that was asked.


Its called playing devil’s advocate.