Eligibility

Bought a car privately in CA but didn't get the title signatures

I would recommend looking at what's called a bonded title or surety bond (available here through your state's DMV website). Basically, this supports the issuance of a California title when regular evidence of ownership for the vehicle is not obtainable.

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Eligibility
General Insurance

How do I handle insurance, tags, and title if I'm going to buy a vehicle from a private party through payments?

For the seller's security, a contract for the payments should be drafted and both you and the seller should have a notarized copy. Once the agreement has been signed by both of you then the seller should cancel the insurance coverage and registration on the vehicle as well as transfer the title to your name.

General Insurance

How can I return a car I bought from a private seller?

Your best bet is to contact an attorney. You may even consider contacting the police department, but I would recommend contacting a legal representative first since an attorney should be able to assist you in getting this other party to cooperate. You wouldn't be able to file a claim for the vehicle since you technically never owned it so legal representation would be my recommendation.
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