How to sell a car privately in Ontario?

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 14 Jul 2023

a sign of for sale on a car

Thinking about selling your car privately in Ontario? Taking this process into your own hands maximizes your profit and gives you full control over the transaction. However, it can overwhelm you if you don’t know the ins and outs of private car sales. But fear not! In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to successfully sell your car privately in Ontario.

Understanding the Private Car Sale Process in Ontario

Before diving into the selling process, stop to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements for private car sales in Ontario. They protect both buyers and sellers, ensuring a fair and transparent transaction.

First, you must provide a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) to the buyer. This package contains important information about the vehicle’s history, such as previous accidents, liens and any outstanding recalls.

For person-to-person sales, you must provide a UVIP in Ontario if you sell a car, van, light truck, motorhome or motorcycle. However, you don’t need one if you sell to a family member, to someone outside Ontario or a charity as a donation or a prize.

The package costs $20 from ServiceOntario, which you pay by Visa, Mastercard or Interac® Online. To order one, you require the vehicle identification number (VIN) or the licence plate number. You also need your Ontario driver’s licence number or registrant identification number (RIN).

In return, you get a package with:

  • the vehicle’s year, make, model, colour, body type, cylinders and power
  • a vehicle registration history in Ontario of all previous owners and their odometer readings
  • any outstanding liens
  • its average wholesale value 
  • the minimum value on which Retail Sales Tax (RST) 
  • a bill of sale section to fill in
  • details on the vehicle’s condition, such as a Safety Standards Certificate

Naturally, you must provide a valid Safety Standards Certificate to prospective buyers, which confirms the vehicle is safe to drive. This provides additional peace of mind to potential buyers and enhances transparency during the sale.

Be honest about any known issues or repairs that have been done. This will help build trust with potential buyers and prevent any disputes down the line.

The Benefits of a Private Car Sale in Ontario

Next, let’s explore the benefits of selling your car privately. Above all, you have the potential to receive a higher sale price compared to trading it in at a dealership. When you sell privately, you have the opportunity to negotiate a better deal and retain the vehicle’s full value. Plus, you can take your time finding the right buyer and avoid the hassle of dealing with dealership trade-ins.

Unlike dealerships with fixed pricing strategies, you can determine the value of your vehicle based on its condition, market demand and other factors. If your car is in excellent condition or has desirable features, you can ask for a higher price. That way, you can potentially earn more money from the sale.

Selling your car privately also allows you to showcase its unique features and benefits. You can create a compelling advertisement that highlights the car’s low mileage, excellent fuel efficiency, or any recent upgrades. By emphasizing these selling points, you can attract more potential buyers and increase your chances of getting a higher offer.

Another advantage of selling privately is the ability to establish a personal connection with the buyer. When you meet potential buyers face-to-face, you can answer their questions, provide additional information and build rapport. This personal interaction can increase the buyer’s confidence in the transaction. In turn, this can make them more likely to choose your car over others on the market.

Lastly, selling your car privately allows you to have full control over the selling process. You can choose when and where to meet potential buyers. Likewise, you negotiate the terms of the sale and finalize the transaction at your own pace. This level of control can empower you and ensure that you feel comfortable with every aspect of the sale.

In conclusion, understanding the legal requirements and benefits of selling your car privately in Ontario make for a successful and rewarding transaction. By following the necessary steps and leveraging these advantages, you can maximize your chances of a higher sale price while finding the right buyer for your vehicle.

Preparing Your Car for Sale

When it comes to selling your car, first impressions matter. To ensure that your vehicle stands out from the competition, go the extra mile in preparing it for sale. While a basic cleaning helps, consider taking it up a notch by giving your car a thorough detailing.

Begin by tackling the exterior. Start with a comprehensive wash, making sure to pay attention to every nook and cranny. Don’t overlook the tires and rims – a good scrub can make them look brand new. Next, apply a coat of wax to protect the paint and give it a glossy finish. Consider using a clay bar to remove any stubborn contaminants that may have bonded to the surface over time.

Now, let’s move on to the interior. Start by removing all personal belongings from the car. This includes any loose change, receipts or even that stray sock you thought you’d lost forever. Vacuum the seats, carpets and floor mats to remove any dirt or debris. If there are any stains or odors, consider using a specialized cleaner to eliminate them.

For an added touch of luxury, consider getting professional detailing. Detailers have the expertise and tools to take your car’s appearance to the next level. They can remove scratches, polish the paint and even rejuvenate faded trim. Investing in professional detailing can make your car look like it just rolled off the showroom floor, impressing potential buyers.

Now that your car looks its best, gather all the necessary documentation. Buyers appreciate transparency, so having all the paperwork ready will give them peace of mind. Start with the vehicle’s ownership papers; make sure they’re up to date and readily accessible. Next, gather any maintenance records you have. This includes receipts for regular services, oil changes, and any repairs or upgrades you’ve made. If your car remains under warranty, gather all the relevant information to pass on to the new owner.

By taking the time to thoroughly clean your car, you attract more interested buyers and a higher price. A clean, well-maintained vehicle not only looks more appealing but also gives the impression that it has been cared for. So, roll up your sleeves, put on some upbeat music and transform your car into a showstopper!

Setting a Fair Price for Your Car

Evaluating your car’s worth is crucial when determining the asking price. Start by researching the market value of similar make, model, year and mileage vehicles. Websites like CARFAX or Canadian Black Book provide you with a comprehensive valuation based on various factors.

When researching the market value, take into account the condition of your car. A well-maintained car with minimal wear and tear will typically have a higher value compared to a neglected one. Consider factors such as the overall appearance, interior condition and any mechanical issues that may need attention.

Mileage also matters. Generally, the lower the mileage, the higher the value. However, if your car has exceptionally high mileage but with regular servicing and repairs, it may still hold a decent value. On the other hand, if your car has low mileage but poor maintenance, it may not fetch as high of a price.

In addition to the condition and mileage, any aftermarket modifications can also impact the pricing of your car. While some modifications, such as performance upgrades or premium audio systems, may increase the value, others may lower it. Modifications that may compromise the car’s reliability can deter potential buyers and lower the overall value.

Lastly, factor in the demand for your particular make and model. If your car is a popular choice among buyers, you may set a higher asking price. However, if you face limited demand for your car, you may need to adjust your pricing to attract potential buyers.

Overall, setting a fair price for your car requires careful consideration of various factors. By researching value, assessing condition and mileage, then evaluating demand, you can determine an asking price that draws potential buyers.

Advertising Your Car Effectively

Now that your car is ready and priced competitively, you’ll want to market it effectively. Online platforms are a popular choice for advertising your car to a wide audience. Websites like AutoTrader, and Facebook Marketplace invite you to create detailed listings with multiple photos and descriptions. Ideally, highlight your car’s unique features and provide accurate and detailed information to attract serious buyers.

To attract potential buyers, write a compelling description of your car. Accentuate its best features and emphasize what sets it apart from other cars on the market. For example, if your car has low mileage or comes with a warranty, mention that in your description. Additionally, provide detailed information about the car’s history, such as accidents or maintenance records, to build trust with potential buyers.

When taking photos of your car, pay attention to lighting and angles. Clear, well-lit photos that showcase the vehicle’s key selling points will capture potential buyers’ attention. Include shots of both the exterior and interior, focusing on any special features, like heated seats or Bluetooth.

Also advertise your car through word of mouth. Let your friends, family and colleagues know that you want to sell your car and ask them to spread the word. You never know who might know someone who seeks a new car.

Social media platforms can also serve as powerful tools for advertising your car. Post about your car on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, then ask your friends and followers to share the post. This can help expand your reach and potentially connect with interested buyers who missed your listing on other platforms.

The best place to list a used car for sale in Ontario

Selling a used car in Ontario involves a series of crucial decisions, one of the most important being where to list your vehicle for sale. The platform you choose can significantly impact how quickly you sell your car and the price you get. Here, we present a guide to the best online platforms to list your used car for sale in Ontario: 


As one of Canada’s largest automotive online marketplaces, AutoTrader offers a vast audience of potential buyers. The platform provides various listing packages, some of which include unlimited photos, CARFAX reports and priority placements to boost your listing. However, these come with varying fees. AutoTrader also offers useful tools such as valuation assistance to help you set a competitive asking price.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace has rapidly grown in popularity for used car sales. It offers a free, user-friendly platform where you list your vehicle and reach a wide network of potential local buyers. The platform leverages the social aspect of Facebook, allowing buyers to view your public profile for greater transparency and security. However, communication and negotiations are typically handled through Facebook Messenger, which might not work for everyone.


Craigslist is a long-standing online classified website known for its simplicity. While it doesn’t have the flashy features of dedicated auto sales platforms, its vast user base reaches a large audience. Posting a car for sale on Craigslist is straightforward and always free. However, the platform has drawn scammers, so both buyers and sellers should proceed with caution.

Kijiji Autos

Kijiji Autos has become a popular platform in Canada for buying and selling used cars. It stands out for its user-friendly interface and detailed categorization, making it easier for buyers to find your listing. Kijiji Autos allows for free listings, but also offers paid options to increase your ad’s visibility. It includes handy features like an instant car valuation tool and an extensive help center to guide you through the selling process.

eBay, the Canadian branch of the global online marketplace, offers another option for selling used cars. Notably, eBay serves as the go-to platform for classic, vintage or rare cars due to its extensive reach beyond national borders. Thus, it connects sellers with enthusiasts and collectors worldwide. That said, it lists everyday vehicles via fixed prices or auction-style bids. With a relatively simple process, it offers various selling formats, such as auction-style or fixed price listings. 

Typically, you can advertise your car here for three, five, seven or 10 days. However, a 10-day listing costs $18 and extending it to 30-days rings up a bill of $50 (for fixed prices only). Further, you pay a “successful listing fee,” when your vehicle sells, of $60 or $125 if your vehicle’s value exceeds $2,000. Likewise, fees run higher for frequent sellers.

Despite these fees, trying might pay off, considering its vast potential audience. However, always provide detailed descriptions and clear photos, especially when selling classic or rare cars, to attract the right buyers.

Managing Potential Buyers

When it comes to selling your car privately in Ontario, effectively managing potential buyers creates challenges. As your ad generates interest, you’ll start receiving inquiries. Try to handle these interactions with care and professionalism to ensure a successful car sale.

Naturally, prospective buyers will want to take a test drive so let’s talk about safety. Police recommend that you meet potential buyers in a public, well-lit location rather than at your home. This not only ensures your personal safety but also provides a comfortable environment for the potential buyer. By choosing a public location, you can also avoid disclosing your home address to strangers.

Before the test drive, verify their driver’s license and insurance. This step ensures that they can legally drive and have adequate auto insurance coverage in case of any accidents. By verifying these documents, you can have peace of mind and protect yourself from any potential liability.

During the test drive, accompany the potential buyer. This not only allows you to provide any necessary guidance but also ensures the safety of both parties. By being present during the test drive, you can address any concerns or questions the potential buyer may have. As a bonus, you can create a positive and trustworthy experience.

When it comes to negotiating the price, get prepared for offers below your asking price. Potential buyers often aim to negotiate and secure the best deal possible. To navigate this process successfully, consider your minimum acceptable price and stay open to negotiate within reason. Finding a middle ground that satisfies both parties closes the deal and ensures a fair transaction.

Managing potential buyers professionally requires effective communication and transparency. Respond quickly to inquiries and provide accurate information about the car. By promptly answering questions and addressing concerns, you build trust with potential buyers and increase the likelihood of a sale.

Completing the Transaction

After all your hard work, you now have an offer on the table. So, what next? At this stage, you’ll want to wrap up the transaction with a bill of sale, payment and transfer of ownership.

Thankfully, you received a bill of sale in your UVIP so that helps. Within the document, fill in the:

  • vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • make, year and power source for motor vehicles 
  • body type, colour and model 
  • purchase price with relevant taxes
  • your name, address and signature 
  • name and address of the buyer
  • sale/purchase date

Only sign this document once you receive payment via a certified check or money order. This protects you from scammers who would just drive away with your car.

Next, you take or fax the bill of sale to a ServiceOntario centre along with a safety certificate and registration papers. If you decide to sell to a relative, you’ll also need a Sworn Statement for a Family Gift of a Used Motor vehicle in the Province of Ontario.

When you hand over the keys, you’ll need to sign over ownership of the vehicle. Make sure to keep a copy of the ownership transfer papers for your records. The new owner will register the car in their name and insure it under their policies.

Tear off and present the vehicle portion on the left-hand side of the Ontario Vehicle Ownership document. First, sign the back of the document and name the buyer as the purchaser. That person will then transfer the vehicle ownership at Service Ontario.

Finally, you’ll also need to adjust your car insurance policy. This will release you from any liability associated with the car.  Simply let your provider know you no longer own the car and no longer need coverage. They may want details, which you have in all the documents you’ve kept throughout the process. 

The Bottom Line

Selling your car privately in Ontario requires careful management of potential buyers. By following these tips, including negotiating openly throughout the process, you’ll navigate the sale successfully. Remember to research the process, present your car in the best light, set a fair price, advertise effectively and manage potential buyers professionally. Best of luck with your car sale!

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications