• Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
Voting History
rated:
I sold my car yesterday for $900 in the evening. In CA, seller needs to give buyer the certifacte that the car has passed smog check in the last 90 days. Unfortunately, no smog check centers open in the evening, so, we "completed" the sale and buyer was to do smog check today morning. But the car failed the smog check - I don't know yet why - the buyer mentioned something related to "idling" and said he was going to take it to his mechanic today evening to see what can be done. By "completed" I mean the following:
1. Buyer paid me $850 cash = $900 (price) - $50 esitmate of money for smog check required the next day which he was going to do.
2. I wrote odometer reading on the title and signed it.
3. Buyer filled the back of the title with his name, address and signed it. I guess this acknowledges the odometer reading.
4. I filled out the "notice of transfer and release of liability", buyer filled out his part, I signed it and kept it with me. I was going to mail it today but was waiting to hear from buyer that the car passed the smog check, I still have it - but see 7 below.
5. I filled out a "bill of sale" with my and buyer's info and signed it.
6. On the back of the "bill of sale" I wrote "this sale is conditional upon the car passing smog check" and signed it. I have this with me.
7. Yesterday night, went to the DMV website and filled out electronically the "notice of transfer and release of liability" and submitted it, got an electronic receipt.

I would like to know where I stand
1. Am I liable for any accidents and parking tickets incurred by the buyer while driving now? (my biggest worry)
2. If the car doesn't pass smog check or requires extensive $$$ to fix, can I get the car back in my name after giving the buyer his money back? Will I need a new title? I think CA law says that for the buyer to get the new car in his name, he must have a smog check so, so buyer would never have a valid title in his name.
3. Have to check if the buyer got the smog check fee back - I saw in some places at least they advertise that the smog check fee is refunded if the car doesn't pass the smog test.
4. CA also has some provision whereby if a car does not pass smog test, you can turn in the car to the state and get $1000 - am wondering I could benefit from car not passing the smog test

I would like to do the right thing here for both me and the buyer but also don't want to lose money on this transaction - having incurred this headache is sufficient price to pay already

Any advice appreciated.

Member Summary
Quick Summary is created and edited by users like you... Add FAQ's, Links and other Relevant Information by clicking the edit button in the lower right hand corner of this message.
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.


You wont qualify for the $1000 retirement b/c the vehicle must fail its normally required bi-ennial smog check, not a smog check that you are doing on your own for another reason.

Thanks Xoneinax. From the form, to qualify for vehicle retirement or aid

"your vehicle must not be in the process of being sold" so that rules me out.

I guess I should have waited till Jan when my registration was due and failed the smog test then ....

PlainJoe said: 3. Have to check if the buyer got the smog check fee back - I saw in some places at least they advertise that the smog check fee is refunded if the car doesn't pass the smog testSometimes, but most dont simply refund the fee; they just let you re-test for free subject to certain conditions.

PlainJoe said: I guess I should have waited till Jan when my registration was due and failed the smog test then ....But when did you last smog it? Jan 2009 or Jan 2008 ?

If Jan 2008, you can probably get the car back, likely fail in Jan 2010, and qualify. If Jan 2009, you have to wait till Jan 2011.

PlainJoe said: "your vehicle must not be in the process of being sold" so that rules me outWell, you can only retire a vehicle that fails a smog check "required" to renew your registration. Failing a smog check done for other reasons (in preparation for a sale, b/c you are bored, for fun, etc) does not qualify.

xoneinax said: PlainJoe said: I guess I should have waited till Jan when my registration was due and failed the smog test then ....But when did you last smog it? Jan 2009 or Jan 2008 ? If Jan 2008, you can probably get the car back, likely fail in December, and qualify.

Don't remember and have to check. Every year it alternated between this and my other car. But will I get registration renewal, having already "sold" it and having filed "notice of transfer and release of liability" with the dmv?

PlainJoe said: But will I get registration renewal, having already "sold" it and having filed "notice of transfer and release of liability" with the dmv?It is probably not officially "sold" yet; I doubt the buyer has already gone to the DMV, transferred the title, and registered the vehicle.

If despite failing the smog check, he already filed paperwork at the DMV, then yeah, you are probably screwed.

xoneinax said: PlainJoe said: But will I get registration renewal, having already "sold" it and having filed "notice of transfer and release of liability" with the dmv?It is probably not officially "sold" yet; I doubt the buyer has already gone to the DMV, transferred the title, and registered the vehicle.

If despite failing the smog check, he already filed paperwork at the DMV, then yeah, you are probably screwed.


I am guessing the dmv will not accept the buyer's paperwork for transfering the title till the buyer gets a smog certificate. Otherwise the "requirement" of a smog certificate valid in the last 90 days doesn't seem to make sense.

I live in a place where there are places to get a smog check for a 'special' price, and you'll pass. Are there any smog check places like this in your area?

Since you both had signed the agreement that the sale was contingent upon the pass of smog check, you should be able to get your car back, the seller got his $ back and you'll lose the $50.00.

I would take the car back and act like the deal never happened if the guy hasnt taken the title to the DMV yet.

YOU are responsible to provide smog check, there is no such thing as an as is used car sale in CA, it MUST pass smog check and buyer can take action against you if it doesnt. Much easier just to take the car back and get the smog done yourself.

You should have already got the smog done if you were selling the car, they are good for 90 days and you know that you are required to provide it to buyer?

Update: Car passed the smog check. Don't know what the problem was in the morning. Anyway, I am relieved.

PlainJoe said: Update: Car passed the smog check. Don't know what the problem was in the morning. Anyway, I am relieved.could have been any number of things, the most common being he didnt warm the car up enough prior to the test. Older cars need to be driven a bit to fully warm up or they may be running on their rich fuel mixture "cold cycle"

or may be he went to 'special' place mentioned above to get smog passed



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014