For a legitimate California title transfer, there are crucial steps you need to take to ensure you’re compliant with the CA DMV and the law.

The State of California has laws about with owner liability when selling a vehicle and being air quality compliant, which most other states don't have.
Get a Smog Inspection Certificate

Should your vehicle meet the requirements, you'll need to obtain a smog certificate, showing proof that the car has passed a smog check in the last 90 days from purchase. You can get a smog inspection almost anywhere in CA, at most auto mechanic and service centers (just look for the sticker in the window). There are also official smog check stations and STAR facilities where you can get this done. California offers smog exemptions for vehicles 6 model years old or newer, which you'll find along with other smog certificate info on the DMV website.

Remove Yourself From Traffic Ticket Liability.

The second thing you'll need to do is fill out and send in a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form NRL, which MUST be done by you, the seller, within 5 days of selling or you may end up being liable down the road for the new owner's traffic tickets! Completing the NRL lets the DMV know you’re no longer responsible for parking/traffic violations, or civil/criminal actions associated with the vehicle you sold it.

Official Release of Vehicle Ownership.

Step number three on the way to a successful turnover of California vehicle registration is the legal release of ownership from yourself to the new owner. This refers to” you” the seller signing in the applicable fields on your certificate of title (pink slip). In some cases, you'll also be required to complete an odometer disclosure statement. This disclosure statement appears on the title and is required for all vehicles 10 years or newer.

Filing Certificate of Title.

The final step in doing a California title transfer is the filing of the certificate of title--also known as the "pink slip" in CA--which officially transfers ownership and liability of the vehicle to the new owner. This is a crucial step, since it clears the vehicle seller of any potential legal liability through having proper proof of sale on file with the DMV. The CA DMV's website will give you many options regarding this step, and exactly how to choose the title certificate transfer option that best describes your situation.