Torquay picked up their second away win of the season at the expense of York, who are now without a win in seven games in all competitions.
Danny Stevens collected Kevin Nicholson's low cross and planted a cool finish past Michael Ingham.
Lanre Oyebanjo and Alex Rodman both forced Gulls keeper Michael Poke into action as the hosts tried to get themselves level.
But it was Joe Oastler who bundled in for 2-0 from Rene Howe's pass.
VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
York City manager Gary Mills told BBC Radio York:
"I thought we were poor in a sense today. I didn't see much belief out there for the first time today.
"I think we looked scared at times. We gave it a go and at times today it wasn't good enough.
"We had chances but it's a recipe for disaster when you're giving away sloppy goals and not taking yours. You end up losing games and that's what's happened to us today."
Torquay United manager Martin Ling told BBC Radio Devon:
"I thought it was a good, solid performance.
"I don't think we played particularly well in the first half if I am honest.
"Hopefully that's the start of a run for Danny Stevens now and he gets playing consistently. He's got his place back today and thoroughly deserves the goal.
"They had quite a lot of possession but didn't get to Michael Poke on too many occasions. It's nice for the back four to keep a clean sheet."