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Selling a Used Car in Ontario

Wednesday, 1 May 2024

Are you getting ready to sell your vehicle but don’t know where to start? No need to worry - we are here to help! Whether you’re selling a used car to upgrade to a newer one or downsizing to save money, there are several steps you need to follow to do it legally in Ontario. This blog will give you all the insights you need for selling a used car in Ontario.

Selling to a Dealership vs. Private Sale

Should you sell your vehicle privately or to a dealership? A dealership will take care of all the paperwork, so if you’re looking for a quick sale and hassle-free process, selling to a dealership may be your best option. The downside to selling to a dealership is that they will offer you less money so that they can flip the car for a profit.

Privately selling a used car in Ontario gives you greater control over the process and can often get you better value, though it does require more work on your end. You must be thorough and ensure you do it legally. Follow this guide for detailed steps on how to sell a used car in Ontario successfully, ensuring a smooth and legal transaction.

Things to do Before Selling a Used Car in Ontario

Before you get started on privately selling a used car in Ontario, you will need to make some decisions and set realistic expectations.

What is the Car Worth?

If you’re wondering how to sell a car privately in Ontario, the first step is determining what your vehicle is worth. Get an estimated value from trusted resources such as the Kelley Blue Book, Canadian Black Book, or Canadian Red Book. Research comparable listings in your area with similar trim levels, mileage, and overall condition.

Where Will You Sell and for How Much?

Your timeline may impact your listing price – whether you need to sell right away or are willing to wait for the right offer. You should also determine the absolute lowest offer you will accept. Finally, choose where to list it and determine which websites you plan to use.

Documents Needed for Selling a Used Car in Ontario

Before you advertise your car, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the essential documents and requirements for a smooth and legal sale. Here’s what you need to sell a car in Ontario:

Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)
When selling a used car in Ontario, the seller is legally required to provide the buyer with a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP). This package includes vehicle details (year, make, model, colour, body type, cylinders, and power), vehicle registration history in Ontario, vehicle lien information, retail sales tax information, vehicle condition, a bill of sale section and more.

Safety Certificate
When selling a used car privately in Ontario, a Safety Certificate is required to transfer ownership. The safety inspection must be conducted by a repair shop registered with the Ministry of Transportation to ensure your vehicle is safe to operate. It can cost between $60-$150, and the certificate is valid for 36 days assuming no repairs are required. However, you can always sell a car in Ontario without safety certificates. But keep in mind that a pre-sale inspection can potentially increase the resale value of your vehicle. 

While selling a car “as is” in Ontario can help you avoid the cost of the safety certificate and potential repairs, consider whether the cost of repairs will exceed the car’s value. If this is not the case, consider the buyer’s point of view before you sell as is. Overall, having a safety certificate will make your used car more appealing to potential buyers and give them the confidence to trust that the vehicle is in good shape.

Bill of Sale
The seller must give the buyer a bill of sale at the time of purchase. It must be an original document. A handwritten bill of sale is acceptable. It must include:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Make, year, power source (gas, diesel, electric)
  • Body type, colour, and model
  • Purchase price (and taxes collected)
  • Name, address, and signature of the current owner/dealer
  • Name and address of the buyer
  • Sale/purchase date

The Vehicle Portion of the Owner’s Permit
When you transfer ownership, the vehicle portion of the owner’s permit must be filled out on the back and given to the buyer. As the seller, you will keep the plate portion of the ownership and your licence plates.

Emissions Test
As of April 1, 2019, light-duty passenger vehicles (most cars, vans, SUVs, and light trucks) and heavy-duty non-diesel vehicles no longer require an emissions test in Ontario. If you are selling a heavy-duty vehicle, visit the MTO website for more details.

Getting a Great Deal When Selling a Used Car in Ontario

You can follow some easy strategies to make your ad more appealing to prospective buyers. Here are some ideas on how to get a great offer when you are selling a used car in Ontario.

  • Take good care of your vehicle.
  • Make minor repairs that could boost the value of your car.
  • Clean the vehicle inside and out. Consider getting it detailed by a professional.
  • Take great photos from multiple angles.
  • Price with room to negotiate. Buyers will try to offer below your listed price, so list the vehicle at an ideal price and know how low of an offer you would be willing to accept.
  • Write a great ad that is engaging and includes all the necessary information.

How to Sell Your Car in Ontario 

What do you need to sell a car in Ontario? From securing all necessary documents to presenting your vehicle in the best possible light, here are the key steps to prepare your car for sale:

Take it to the Mechanic

In Ontario, you are typically required to provide the buyer with a Safety Standards Certificate. Even with this certificate, interested buyers may request a vehicle inspection for added peace of mind. Taking your car to a licenced mechanic is a common requirement when figuring out how to sell a vehicle in Ontario. However, it's only necessary if explicitly requested by the buyer. The 'Pre-purchase Inspection,' usually paid for by the buyer, allows the mechanic to evaluate the car's overall condition and pinpoint any critical issues. This process builds trust by transparently disclosing the vehicle's status.

Clean the Interior and Exterior

Enhancing your car’s appearance can significantly impact its market value, helping you secure the best price. Thoroughly clean the interior, using natural products to neutralize odours and paying close attention to high-touch areas like door handles, gear levers, and steering wheels. For the exterior, start with a snow foam wash, followed by tar and glue remover for stubborn spots, and finish with high-quality car shampoo. Consider applying synthetic wax to preserve the paint’s shine and clean the alloy wheels with a pH-neutral or alkaline solution.

Take High-Quality Photos

Effective visuals are crucial when advertising your car. To avoid harsh shadows, use your smartphone to take photos on a bright, overcast day, ideally in mid-morning or late afternoon. Shoot from various angles about 10-20 feet away, without using the zoom function, to maintain clarity. Highlight special features like luxury additions or unique aspects that justify your asking price, such as high-end audio systems, custom wheels, or advanced safety features. Ensure these are visible in your pictures to attract potential buyers who value these enhancements. Include a clear odometer shot to verify mileage.

Create a Compelling Ad

Crafting a concise, clear ad is essential when learning how to sell a car in Ontario online. Include the car’s make, model, transmission type, and mileage in the title. Be transparent about any repairs or issues in the description. Adding a backstory, such as your experiences with the car or unique details about its history, can significantly enhance its appeal and emotionally connect with buyers. Highlight desirable features and the car’s storage condition. Set a thoughtful, fair price, ideally below car dealership rates but above what a dealer would offer, allowing room for negotiation. Provide a brief tip on negotiation, such as being open to offers, but be sure to establish your lowest acceptable price beforehand.

Transfer Ownership with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Once you find a buyer, complete the ownership transfer through the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Ensure all necessary documents are ready, including the Safety Standards Certificate and any service records. Both you and the buyer will need to sign the vehicle portion of the registration permit. Before handing over the vehicle, remove your licence plates, as they cannot be included in the sale. If you plan to reuse the plates on another car, retain the plate portion of the ownership permit. The buyer must take this documentation and proof of insurance to a ServiceOntario centre within six days to manage the registration and sales tax obligations. As the seller, promptly notify the Ministry about the sale to absolve yourself of future liabilities, ensuring a legal transfer of responsibilities to safeguard both parties.

Contact Your Insurance Broker

Whether you have successfully sold your car or are ready to purchase a new vehicle, be sure to contact your BIG insurance broker so you can make the proper changes to your policy. Selling and purchasing a car are major financial decisions that will ultimately impact how much you pay for insurance. When it comes time to make that decision, having the knowledge and expertise of a BIG broker on your side makes things much easier. You can also request a quote online to see how you could save money on your car insurance.

By: Devon Gribble