Buying a used car in California can be slightly different from many other states due to their stricter regulations. The follow information can help guide you through the process of registering and obtaining a tag for your recently purchased vehicle. Also, unlike many other areas in the United States, California requires that most cars and trucks be subject to emission inspection based on SMOG regulations.
SMOG / Emissions Inspection
You can locate a smog station near you online here.
Smog inspections are required unless your vehicle is:
Gasoline powered 1975 year model or older
Diesel powered 1997 year model and older or with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR) of more than 14,000 lbs
Natural gas powered with a GVWR rating of more than 14,000 lbs.
California Vehicle Licensing Fee
You can find more information on how much and if you need to pay a vehicle licensing fee with this FAQ from the California DMV. You can also use this online calculator to estimate how much your registration fee will be: California Registration Fee Calculator
Make note of 2012 changes to California driving laws
You can see a full list of the new driver laws that went into effect on January 1st, 2012: California – New laws for 2012. These law changes include changes to DUI, child safety restraints, HOV lanes, Electric Vehicles (EV), and a few others.