How to Sell a Car in Ontario: Everything You Need to Know
Selling a used vehicle privately in Ontario isn’t as simple as snapping a few photos, creating an online listing, and waiting for the phone to ring. It takes careful planning and preparation to get the best price you can, increase your chances for a speedy sale, and—most importantly—ensure you have all the required legal documents in proper order.
To guide you through the process from start to finish, we’ve created this handy guide on how to privately sell a used car in Ontario. Even if you’ve previously sold a used car in another province, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the steps below as several of them are unique to Ontario.
How much can I sell my car for?
The first thing you need to do is determine how much you can reasonably sell your vehicle for. That means zeroing in on a fair price that attracts interested buyers. Failing to do this means you’ll either set your price too high and potential buyers will scroll on by, or you’ll set it too low and leave money on the table.
The best way to find your vehicle’s market value is through a trusted third-party site like Canadian Black Book, Kelley Blue Book, or CARFAX’s Value Range Estimator. With each site, you input some key information about your vehicle—such as make, model, and year—and you’ll be given a market value range you can use to set your price.
You should also double-check that you don’t have any remaining payments on your car loan. If you do, you’ll need to confirm with your lender the total cost to pay off your remaining loan amounts and assume full ownership before you can sell the vehicle.
Canada Drives uses Canadian Black Book values to provide an accurate estimate of your car's worth. However, unlike Canadian Black Book, Canada Drives will offer to buy your car too. If you want to know how much you could get for your car, get an instant offer today. We'll even pay off your existing loan.
Should I spend money on detailing and repairs?
Once you have your list price in hand, it’s time to get your ride ready for the spotlight. You want to optimize your chances of selling your car for a good price without overspending. For instance, it’s probably a wise move to spend $20 and take your vehicle through the car wash before photos are taken.
The best bang for your buck is anything that makes your car truly shine. For instance, many sellers choose to get their vehicle fully detailed inside and out prior to listing it. This can cost a couple hundred dollars but has the potential to bring you a few thousand more in a sale, depending on the vehicle and what else is available on the used vehicle market in your area.
In Ontario, a Safety Certificate is required to transfer ownership of the vehicle, so you should consider taking the vehicle to a mechanic for a check up and having any small repairs or touch-ups completed.
Aesthetic improvements (faded paint job, scratches, dents) may help you find a buyer faster, but extensive body work can be costly. So long as the damage isn’t creating a safety concern, it might be better to highlight the damaged area in your ad and let the potential buyer incorporate the information into their decision.
Best ways to sell your car online
Some people still put “For Sale” signs in their car windows but the most effective place to list your ride for sale is online.
Sites like AutoTrader.ca, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Kijiji are among the most popular places to buy and sell used cars in Ontario. In addition to putting your listing in front of huge audiences, these sites are great because they’re also completely free. You can list your car for sale without paying any upfront fees, plus they don’t take a commission when you sell your ride.
Each site also offers options for you to pay for boosted or promoted listings if you want.
Take high-quality photos
A picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to selling your car online. To capture the best shots possible, you can hire a professional photographer but if that’s not in your budget you can get the job done with a smartphone and some best practices:
- For the best lighting, take photos on a bright but overcast day.
- Avoid direct sunlight, as it can create high contrast images that hide details.
- Stand 10-20 feet from your vehicle for exterior photos.
- Take exterior photos of each side of the vehicle, plus angles.
- Avoid using the zoom function on your smartphone camera.
- Focus on key details, such as any luxury or speciality features.
- To get a good wide shot of the front dashboard, try sitting in the back seat and holding the camera over the driver’s side seat.
- Take at least one clear photo of the odometer to prove how many kilometres are on the car.
Add a video (or two) if possible
Some sites also let you add videos to your listing. This can be a great way to make your listing stand apart from others. It’s also especially useful online as it can give buyers a way to explore your car in a way that’s as close as possible to viewing it in person.
Write a clear title and transparent description
Don’t get fancy with the listing title. The only information you should include in the title is the car’s make, model, series, whether it’s manual or automatic, and the number of kilometres. In the description, be fully transparent about the vehicle’s condition. If there are any repairs needed, or any issues buyers should be aware of, include them in the description.
What documents are needed to sell a used car in Ontario?
Before you list your vehicle for sale in Ontario you should get all of the required documents in order. Some of these requirements are unique to Ontario, so even if you’ve privately sold a used vehicle in another province make sure you’re not missing anything from the list below.
1. Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)
In Ontario, the seller of a used vehicle is legally required to purchase a UVIP and provide it to the buyer when the vehicle is sold. A UVIP includes a range of information on the vehicle, including its registration history, lien information, and more.
To purchase a UVIP online or at a ServiceOntario location, you’ll need to provide the vehicle identification number (VIN) or the licence plate number of the vehicle, plus your Ontario driver’s licence number, registrant identification number (RIN), or your name and address.
2. Safety standards certificate
As a seller you also need to obtain a safety standards certificate that proves the vehicle meets minimum safety standards in Ontario. There are some rare exceptions, but this certificate is required to put licence plates on any Ontario vehicle. To get a certificate, the vehicle needs to pass inspection at any licensed inspection station in Ontario.
3. Bill of sale
Also required to sell a used vehicle in Ontario is a bill of sale document. This can be handwritten or you can use the template that comes included with your UVIP. No matter what format you choose, your bill of sale document needs to include all of the following:
- VIN (vehicle identification number)
- Vehicle information (make, model, colour, body type year, and whether it’s gas, diesel, or electric)
- Price paid by the buyer, including any taxes, plus the HST/GST number if applicable
- Name, address, and signature of the current owner/dealer or the leasing company (seller)
- Name and address of the buyer
- The sale/purchase date
4. Application for transfer
On the back of your ownership permit you’ll find an application for the transfer section. When you complete the sale with a buyer, you’ll need to complete and sign this section and give it to the buyer. The buyer will need it to complete their registration of the vehicle within six days of the sale. Until the buyer registers the vehicle at a ServiceOntario location, the vehicle will remain registered with the seller.
Don’t forget to remove your license plates when you sell your vehicle. These cannot be transferred to the buyer in the sale of your vehicle. Additionally, if you want to transfer your plates to another vehicle, you’ll need to hold onto the plate section of your ownership permit.
5. CARFAX report
A CARFAX report is not required when selling a used car or truck in Ontario. However, some buyers may request you provide one or ask if one is available. CARFAX reports include some of the same information in a UVIP, plus the vehicle’s accident history, whether it’s ever been reported stolen, or if there are any safety recalls on it.
The easiest way to sell your car:
If you don’t have time to go through all the hassle and headaches associated with selling a car, why not sell your vehicle to Canada Drives instead? Get an instant online offer for your car today. Your offer will be valid for seven days, so you can think it over. If you like your offer all you need to do is drop off your car at the nearest Canada Drives location and receive your safe and secure payment.
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