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Can I sell my car if it's on PNO in California?


Answer: Can I still sell my car during the PNO (planned non-operation)? I live in California. I have one more question. In California, the smog check is required to register autos. So, what happens when buyer needs to do smog check for a car which is during PNO?

Question: In California some types of vehicles do not require insurance. These include off-road vehicles, trailers, special equipment vehicles, and those registered as PNO (planned non-operation). The California department of vehicles (DMV) states that if it's time to renew the registration for a vehicle that you do not plan to use, you may place your vehicle on Planned Non-Operation status. You mentioned your car is registered as a PNO and thus does not need state car insurance coverage on it while it's inoperable and off the road.

With a car that is listed as a PNO, you cannot drive the vehicle legally and it cannot be parked on a public street. If you to drive the car under PNO, you will need to register it. So if you plan on selling it to someone that will test drive it and drive it away from where you have it stored or garaged then you will need to take the PNO off and thus register and insure the car so that it is back on the road legally.

So you can sell the car with PNO, but it cannot be parked on a public street or test driven.

You can contact the California DMV for clarification of what to do when selling a car that is listed as a PNO, however, remember when you request a PNO there is an affidavit of non-use in which you certified under the penalty of perjury that the vehicle listed would not be operated or parked on any California roadway and that if the car is operated or parked on any California roadway prior to complying with applicable registration and financial responsibility laws that you will be subject to a citation.

Selling a car shouldn't be considered "use", but the activities related to selling the car may be considered "use".

The DMV notes specifically that if at any time the vehicle is operated or parked where it may be subject to citation, then full registration fees and penalties for that year become due.

You should contact the California DMV to find out what steps you should take to remove the PNO if you are going to be selling the vehicle and it will, thus, be going back on the roadway, there may be some concessions that are made.

As for the smog issue, whenever there is a change of ownership, the DMV refers to the transaction as a "transfer." The California DMV says that the seller is required to obtain smog certification when a vehicle is transferred so you would actually be responsible for the smog check. The California Department of Consumer Affairs notes that many vehicles only need a smog check when they are being sold or are being registered in California after previously being registered in another state.

So the smog issue would be on you as the seller of the vehicle so it again is something you should check with the DMV about when you also discuss the PNO issue in terms of selling the vehicle you have listed as non-operational.

If you will need to register, insure and smog your vehicle, remember to compare state car insurance rates to find the best deal for the short time you need insurance until the vehicle is sold.  Remember to tell the insurer that the mileage will be limited on the vehicle, this may allow you to get a low-mileage discount and bring down your rates even lower.


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9 Responses to "Can I sell my car if it's on PNO in California?"
  1. gee

    You can sell a car while its in PNO status, but you need to go to the DMV or AAA and get a one day pass so the person can test drive it and drive it to the smog check that same day.

  2. Same shoes

    You can sell PNO car as-is, for parts. Otherwise you need to reinstate the registration for which you need to do smog, get insurance and pay full registration fee. Vehicle Moving Permit (REG 172) allows you to operate PNO vehicle for one day to move it or take it to smog station.

  3. Anonymous

    Quite a long "answer" that does not even attempt to answer the question of how to sell a vehicle *during* PNO.

  4. Anonymous

    I rated this answer a ten because it tells you about things you may not have thought about or considered. Better to know in advance, than learn in hindsight.

  5. Anonymous

    what if you want to give the PNO vehicle to someone (buyer) for free.. but later, he turns around and sue you because now he need to fix the car to pass the smog inspection? any information on how to do that?

  6. Anonymous

    Your assuming the buyer wants to test drive the vehicle before the sale. What if the vehicle is sold PNO and towed to its location with a DMV moving permit. I the seller don't need to register the vehicle there for no need to smog it. That is the buyer responsibility.

  7. Anonymous

    I want information on selling my PNO vehicle to the State of California. Prior to having the vehicle put on PNO satus it would not pass the required smog certification.

  8. Anonymous

    The fundamental question is "How can I sell a car that needs work when both the buyer and seller agree that the buyer will do the work and subsequently get the smog check?" There must be a standard approach to this.

  9. Anonymous

    What if the seller lives on miles of private road? Therefore, not breaking a law if test driving? If the bill of sale was signed, isnt it the buyers responsablility to have the vehicle towed, since he signed and was aware of the pno?