The Ultimate Guide to Selling a Car in Ontario

By Daniel Schoester | Published on 26 Apr 2023

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    Sell your car in Ontario: five easy steps

    Before you start selling your car in Ontario, there are a few things you need to know. For example, you must provide the buyer with a Used Vehicle Information Package and pay any outstanding fines or tickets related to the car. 

    Another essential thing to note is that it’s more challenging to sell a car with a loan on it. This is because the lender has legal ownership of the vehicle until you repay the loan. You can only transfer ownership once you pay off the loan.

    Also, ensure you have all the necessary documentation, such as ownership, the safety certificate and the bill of sale. Read on for a comprehensive guide to help you navigate selling your car in Ontario from start to finish.

    Overview Of Selling Your Car in Ontario

    Selling a used vehicle in Ontario can seem overwhelming, but with the proper preparation and understanding, you can ensure the process goes smoothly and ends in a successful sale. This section will provide a high-level overview of the steps required to sell a car in Ontario. Note that the following sections explain every step in significantly more detail.

    The process begins with preparing your car for sale. This includes cleaning up your vehicle along with fixing any issues. Like staging your home, you’ll likely receive more offers if the car appears in better condition. Similarly, spending time improving mechanical matters will reduce the chances of a buyer walking away or trying to negotiate you down. In this stage, gather the necessary paperwork to streamline the closing process.

    Next, you’ll want to determine the value of your car. Researching the car’s market value is essential, and online resources like Kelley Blue Book can help understand what similar cars are selling for in the area. You’ll then need to factor in your vehicle’s condition and additional features to pinpoint a value.

    After determining a rough value, you must advertise the car to potential buyers. Sellers commonly turn to online marketplaces or digital car dealers. However, you may also have success with social media or print ads. Regardless of your type of advertising, ensure to be truthful and accurate in your description.

    By this point, you’ll be receiving messages about your car. You’ll need to negotiate with buyers and investigate their ability to pay. Always ask about their method of payment and be cautious about accepting checks.

    Finally, you’ll need to complete the sale. This involves completing the required paperwork and properly transferring vehicle ownership. Also, notify your car insurance provider that you are no longer the vehicle owner.

    Step One: Preparing Your Car for Sale

    A proper foundation at the beginning ensures no hiccups in the closing process. You’ll thank yourself later when you can seamlessly sell your car without risking the buyer walking away. 

    This step involves cleaning your car, fixing mechanical issues, and collecting the required paperwork. Spending a few hundred dollars on cleaning and fixing issues can often result in a few thousand dollars more in the sale. Additionally, having the necessary paperwork will result in more trust from the buyer. 

    Cleaning and Detailing

    Nobody wants to buy a dirty car. Uploading photos of a clean car will significantly increase buyer attention which can help you get a better deal. When cleaning your car’s interior, vacuum the carpets, seats, and floor mats. Also, wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth and use a specialized cleaner for the dashboard and other plastic or vinyl surfaces. Remember to clean the windows and mirrors as well.

    For the exterior, give your car a thorough wash and wax to make it shine. Pay attention to the wheels and tires, making sure they are clean and free of any debris. If there are any scratches or dents, consider fixing them to improve the car’s overall appearance.

    Fixing Mechanical Issues

    Mechanical issues can ruin the chances of selling your car. Fixing any minor issues before listing your vehicle will help prevent buyers from trying to negotiate you down or walking away entirely. If you need to figure out the problem, consider taking your car to a mechanic and getting it checked out. This could cost some money upfront but will significantly help with the sale in the long run.

    Gather Necessary Paperwork

    Having all of the necessary paperwork on hand will streamline your entire car-selling process. You should have your vehicle registration, ownership papers, service records, and other documents ready to show buyers. This indicates that you are serious about selling and gives potential buyers confidence. Below is a list of all the documentation you should have:

    • Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP): The UVIP is a legal requirement and must be purchased by the seller and provided to the buyer. It includes the vehicle’s registration history, lien information, and more. To buy a UVIP, the seller must give the vehicle’s VIN or licence plate number and their Ontario driver’s licence number, RIN, or name and address.
    • Safety Standards Certificate: All Ontario vehicles must meet safety standards except for rare exceptions. This certificate proves that the car meets the minimum safety standards in Ontario. To get a certification, you must have the vehicle pass inspection at a licensed inspection station in Ontario.
    • CARFAX Report: While not required by law, some buyers may request a CARFAX report. The report includes information on the vehicle’s accident history, theft reports, and any safety recalls. A CARFAX report can provide additional information beyond the UVIP.

    Step Two: Determining the Value of Your Car

    Once you have your car cleaned up and all the necessary documents gathered, it’s time to determine how much it’s worth. Many existing guides can estimate the value, which you can adjust based on the factors of your vehicle.

    You can also let the market decide the price of your vehicle by adjusting the listing value. You can begin with a higher price and reduce it weekly if you are still waiting for someone to message you. Alternatively, you can relist with a higher price if you get many messages.

    Researching the market value of your car 

    A great starting place is to reference a pricing guide. Alternatively, a local dealership can give you an estimate. Remember that the price you will get for your car may be slightly lower than the estimated value due to depreciation and other factors. Buyers may also try to negotiate you down, so the lowest price you’d accept is worth noting in advance.

    Factors that affect the value of your car

    You can then fine-tune the valuation based on various factors. This is similar to a real estate comparative market analysis (CMA). The pricing guides provide a broad range which you can adjust based on favourable or unfavourable aspects of your vehicle.

    Your pricing guide should already include factors such as your vehicle make, model, year, and mileage. As you can assume, newer cars with less mileage are more valuable. In addition, some brands and models hold their value better than others.

    Your pricing guide may not include the vehicle condition along with additional features. A car in excellent condition, both mechanically and aesthetically, will have a higher value than a car in poor condition. Finally, any other features your car may have can impact its value. For example, a vehicle with a sunroof or leather seats may be worth more than one without these features.

    Step Three: Advertising Your Car for Sale

    Once you have prepared your car for sale and determined its value, it’s time to advertise. There are several ways to market your vehicle, including online classifieds, social media, and print ads. Be sure to include high-quality photos and a detailed description of the car, including its features, history, and any notable selling points to attract potential buyers.

    Selling Your Car Online 

    There are many online marketplaces explicitly designed for buying and selling cars. These sites allow you to list your vehicle with basic information, such as a photo gallery, description, and price. Many platforms are free, while some have fees or paid additional features.

    In addition, there is an emerging field of online car dealers. These online dealers can buy your car directly and provide a more convenient way to sell it. They’ll seamlessly appraise your vehicle and then pick it up from you. However, the convenience comes with a cost, as you’ll likely receive a lower amount than by managing the deal yourself. The remainder of this section will walk you through all the places you can list your car for sale in Ontario.

    Canada Drives

    Canada Drives is an online dealer. They use the Canadian Black Book to value your car. Your offer will be valid for seven days. They can pick up your vehicle and pay you through an electronic funds transfer if you accept.

    Clutch

    Clutch is another online dealer that lets you receive quick offers. You’ll need to share details about your car and provide proof of ownership and other documents. If approved, they will pick up your car, and you’ll receive the money in 1-3 business days through an online transfer.

    Carity 

    Carity is an online marketplace that lets you sell cars to dealers. While they have a consumer-facing page to sell cars, it appears their focus is helping dealerships acquire vehicles. You’d likely be selling to dealers over individual car buyers.

    Autozen

    Autozen is available around Toronto and lets you sell to a network of dealers. As with Canada Drives, they’ll value your vehicle using Canadian Black Book. Autozen will come to you to pick up your vehicle.

    Autotrader

    AutoTrader is a popular website that allows you to sell privately to a marketplace or car dealer. As a result, it’s a combination of an online dealer and marketplace. While it’s free to list on their marketplace, you can pay to upgrade your post.

    Facebook Marketplace

    Facebook’s marketplace is free to buy and sell cars in Ontario. Some sellers prefer it because it provides additional information about the buyer. For example, you’ll see how long they have been a member of Facebook. You can pay additional fees to boost your listing.

    Craigslist

    Craigslist Ontario is a popular online platform for used cars. It’s free to post and is known for many vehicles around the province. You can include detailed information about your car in the listing, such as photos, prices, and descriptions.

    Kijiji

    Kijiji Autos is another popular website that allows you to sell your car for free. However, you’ll need to pay fees if listing more than two passenger vehicles simultaneously. Additionally, there are extra fees if you want your listing to appear at the top.

    eBay

    eBay Motors is a popular online marketplace that caters specifically to vehicles. This marketplace lets you decide between an auction format or a fixed price. eBay Motors operates differently from the rest of the platform. There are three listing packages ranging from $19.00 – $79.00 USD. More expensive packages let you include more photos and keep your ad up longer.

    Additional Ways to Advertise

    Social media is another effective way to advertise your car for sale. Consider posting about your car on social media accounts and relevant groups or pages. You can also use paid advertising on platforms like Facebook or Instagram to reach a wider audience.

    Print ads can also be effective, especially if you live in an area with a high concentration of potential buyers. Consider placing ads in local newspapers or magazines or flyers in public places such as grocery stores or community centers.

    Creating an effective advertisement

    When creating your ad, it’s essential to be honest, and transparent about the condition of your car. If there are any issues or flaws, disclose them in your description. This will help build trust with potential buyers and ensure a smoother transaction. Additionally, you have a legal obligation to disclose any significant problems that could affect the safety or operation of the vehicle. This includes a faulty transmission, engine problems, or significant body damage.

    In addition to providing a detailed description of your car, consider highlighting any unique or standout features that may set it apart from other vehicles on the market. This could include low mileage, a recent tune-up, or a custom paint job.

    Step Four: Negotiating with Potential Buyers

    Once you have listed your car for sale, it’s time to begin negotiating with potential buyers. As mentioned earlier, you can always adjust your vehicle’s price depending on how many messages you’re receiving. If you only receive one message after two weeks, it could be a signal to lower your price as there is no market interest. 

    Remember to be courteous and professional throughout the negotiation and remain firm on your asking price. Don’t hesitate to leave the deal if you feel uncomfortable or pressured during negotiations. However, consider your buyer’s background information before dealing with them. It could be worth selecting a reputable buyer offering $1,000 less than a sketchy buyer trying to scam you. 

    Investigating Your Buyer Before Closing the Sale

    Once you have found a potential buyer, conducting proper due diligence is essential to ensure a safe and successful sale. This includes verifying the buyer’s identity and driver’s license, confirming their payment method, and completing a bill of sale. Also, be cautious of buyers reluctant to provide personal information or seem evasive when answering questions about their background.

    Another essential factor to consider is the buyer’s method of payment. While cash is always a safe option, you should be cautious when accepting checks or money orders. If someone hands you a forged check, you’ll have a worthless piece of paper. Wait until it clears before handing over the car.

    Step Five: Completing the Sale

    Once you have agreed upon a sale price and completed due diligence, it’s time to finish the sale. However, you must complete a few critical steps before handing over the keys and saying goodbye to your beloved car. Always meet in a public place, and only allow a potential buyer to take the car for a test drive with you present. 

    Paperwork

    It’s also a good idea to provide the buyer with any additional paperwork or documents related to the car, such as maintenance records or warranties. This can help the new owner take good care of the vehicle and avoid unexpected issues. In addition to the safety certificate and UVIP, two essential documents are required at this stage. 

    • Bill of Sale: This document is required to sell a used vehicle in Ontario. It can be handwritten or used in the template provided with the UVIP. The bill of sale must include the VIN, vehicle information, price paid, seller’s name and address, buyer’s name and address, and sale/purchase date.
    • Application for Transfer: The application for transfer section is found on the back of the ownership permit and completed by the seller when finalizing the sale. The seller must sign and give the buyer the application to complete the vehicle registration. The buyer must register the vehicle, or it will remain registered with the seller.

    Transferring ownership of the vehicle

    The first step is to transfer ownership of the car to the buyer. This involves completing a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) which provides essential details about the car, such as its history, accident reports, and any liens against it. It’s necessary to complete this document accurately and honestly to avoid any legal issues down the road.

    After completing the UVIP, you must ensure the buyer has all the paperwork required to transfer ownership, including the bill of sale and application for transfer. It’s essential to ensure all the information is correct and legible to provide clarity and a timely transfer of ownership.

    Tying Loose Ends

    Finally, you must notify the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) that you are transferring ownership. This can be done online or by mail and takes about two weeks to process. The buyer must also register their vehicle at a local ServiceOntario Centre. Once the buyer has registered the car, you will be released from any liability for that vehicle.

    It’s also necessary to cancel your Ontario car insurance to avoid continuing payments. You can also cancel any parking permits or other services associated with your car, such as road tolls or transit passes. As a final precaution, you should remove your license plates because they are generally associated with the driver instead of the vehicle. By following these steps, you can ensure a successful sale of your used car in Ontario and have peace of mind knowing that you are protected throughout the process.

    The Bottom Line

    Selling a car in Ontario can be a complex process, but with the proper preparation and knowledge, you can ensure a smooth and successful sale. Be sure to take the time to clean and repair your car, determine its value, and carefully research potential buyers before closing the deal. Following these guidelines can maximize your selling price and ensure a positive experience. 

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    Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Hardbacon, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hellosafe. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.