Selling your car in Ontario can be a smooth process if you know what steps to take. From preparing your vehicle for sale to completing the transaction, there are several key factors to consider.

In this guide, we'll walk you through each stage of the process to ensure a successful sale, including:

How to decide the best way to sell your used car in Ontario (private vs. dealership)  

To get started, it’s important to decide whether you want to sell your car privately or to a dealership.

What are the pros and cons of selling a car privately in Ontario?

  • Pros:
    • Control: Selling privately allows sellers to maintain full control over the selling process, including setting the price, negotiating terms, and choosing the buyer. This level of control can be appealing to sellers who want to ensure they get the best value for their vehicle.
    • No trade-in required: If the seller is not looking to purchase another vehicle immediately or prefers not to trade in their current car, selling privately offers the flexibility to sell the car independently without the need for a trade-in transaction.
  • Cons:
    • Timely: The process of selling your car privately can be time-consuming and may require ongoing attention until the sale is finalized.
    • High effort: Selling a car privately requires effort to advertise the vehicle, respond to inquiries, schedule viewings and test drives, negotiate with potential buyers, and handle paperwork.
    • Legal risks: Private sellers are responsible for ensuring all legal and financial aspects of the sale are handled correctly. This includes verifying the buyer's identity, drafting a legally binding bill of sale, transferring ownership, and handling payment securely. Mistakes or oversights in these areas could lead to legal disputes or financial losses for the seller. Make sure you read this entire guide for required steps and documentation to protect yourself from legal or financial risks.

What are the pros and cons of selling a car to a dealership in Ontario?

  • Pros:
    • Convenience: Selling to a dealership is often quick and convenient. You can typically get an offer on your vehicle on the spot without having to advertise it or meet with potential buyers.
    • Trade-in options: If you're buying a new vehicle from the dealership, they may offer you a trade-in option where you can apply the value of your old vehicle towards the purchase of a new one, which can simplify the buying process.
    • No need for repairs or detailing: Dealerships may accept vehicles in as-is condition, saving you the time and money required to make repairs or have the car detailed before selling it.
  • Cons:
    • Lower offers: Dealerships typically offer lower prices for vehicles compared to private buyers, as they need to account for the cost of reconditioning and potential profit margins when reselling the vehicle. It's essential to research the market value of your vehicle beforehand to ensure you're getting a fair offer.
    • Sales pressure: Some dealerships may employ high-pressure sales tactics to convince you to sell your vehicle or buy a new one from them. It's essential to remain firm in your decision and not feel pressured into accepting an offer that you're not comfortable with.

How to prepare your car for sale in Ontario

Before listing your car for sale, it's essential to ensure it's in top condition and that you have all the necessary documentation ready. Here's what you need to do:

Gather the necessary documents to sell your car in Ontario:

Whether you sell your car privately or through a dealership, it’s important to collect documents that provide valuable information about the car’s history and maintenance. The more information you can supply, the better. These documents include:

  • Required documentation for selling a car in Ontario:
    • Vehicle registration (a.k.a. vehicle ownership or vehicle permit): This document is typically stored in your glovebox and proves you are the legal owner of the vehicle you are selling. The buyer will want to see this document to ensure that the vehicle is not stolen and can legally be sold by you.
    • Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) (For private sales only): Ontario, unlike other Canadian provinces, requires that the seller provide the buyer with a UVIP package, which can be purchased from ServiceOntario for approximately $20 CAD (as of February 2024). This package includes information about the vehicle’s details (year, make, model, colour, etc.), registration history, license plate number, lien information, Retail Sales Tax (RST) information, a Safety Standards Certificate, and a bill of sale template.
  • Supplementary documentation to support selling a car in Ontario:
    • Maintenance records: A car's maintenance records are documents that detail the history of the vehicle's maintenance and repairs throughout its lifetime.
    • Warranty record/documentation: A car's warranty records document the details of any warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer or an extended warranty provider. It may also include details about the claims that were made while the vehicle was under warranty.
    • Odometer reading: Providing an odometer reading at the time of sale can provide additional information to support your sale.

Enhance your used car’s curb appeal for an optimal sales experience: First impressions matter when selling a car. Clean the interior and exterior thoroughly. Fix minor repairs such as dents, scratches, or broken accessories. A well-maintained and clean vehicle is more likely to attract potential buyers.

How much to sell your used car for in Ontario

Determining the right price for your car is crucial to attract buyers while ensuring you get a fair deal. Consider the following steps:

  • Age and mileage: The older the car and the higher the mileage, the lower the resale value generally is.
  • Condition: A well-maintained car with minimal wear and tear will command a higher price than one in poor condition.
  • Market demand: Research the demand for your specific make and model in your area to gauge potential interest from buyers. Some options to research used car prices online are Canadian Black Book, Kijiji Autos, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Auto Trader.
  • Seasonality: Certain times of the year may be more favorable for selling a used car, such as spring when people are looking for new vehicles or before winter when buyers seek reliable transportation.
  • Regional variations: Prices can vary based on location due to factors such as climate, local economy, and population density.
  • Comparative analysis: Research similar vehicles for sale in your area to understand the market value and set a competitive price.
  • Negotiation: Be prepared to negotiate with potential buyers while remaining realistic about your car's worth and market conditions.

Thorough research and understanding of your vehicle are the best ways to determine the price for selling your car.

How to handle potential buyers and negotiations when selling your used car privately in Ontario

Once your car is listed for sale, you'll start receiving inquiries from potential buyers. Here's how to manage this stage effectively:

  • Screening inquiries: Respond promptly to inquiries and be prepared to answer questions about the vehicle's history, condition, and features. Weed out unserious buyers to focus on genuine leads.
  • Arranging test drives: Schedule test drives with serious buyers in safe locations. Accompany them during the test drive and be transparent about any issues or concerns they may have.

Negotiating the price of your car with a potential buyer can be a delicate dance, but with the right approach, you can ensure a fair deal for both parties. Firstly, know your car's worth by researching its market value and understanding its condition relative to similar vehicles. When discussing pricing with the buyer, be confident but flexible. Start with a slightly higher asking price to leave room for negotiation but be prepared to justify your price based on the car's features, maintenance history, and any recent repairs or upgrades. Listen to the buyer's concerns and objections carefully and address them transparently. Be open to compromise and willing to adjust the price within reason to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. Remember, the goal is not just to sell the car but to establish a positive and trusting relationship with the buyer.

How to complete a car sale privately in Ontario

To legally sell your used vehicle in Ontario, there are processes you need to follow, like gathering all necessary documents required in the province. You will then need to transfer ownership of the car to the new owner by completing a Bill of Sale form.

Ensure you receive payment securely, either through cash, certified cheque, or electronic transfer. Be cautious of potential scams and verify the authenticity of payment before handing over the keys.

Additionally, you will need to remove the license plates and return them to a ServiceOntario centre. ServiceOntario centres are located throughout the province and offer a range of services, including the transfer of vehicle ownership. It is important to keep in mind that the process may vary slightly depending on the specifics of your situation, so you may want to consult with a lawyer or a professional car dealer for more information.

Don't forget your extended car warranty! Here's how to set it up after selling your car. 

When you sell your car, it’s important to remember to cancel your extended warranty for that vehicle and re-register for your next vehicle. In Ontario, drivers can easily register for an extended warranty with GuardTree, Canada’s first monthly subscription-based used car warranty. New subscribers can register online in minutes, and no inspection is required, you can start protecting the investment made on your next vehicle in a matter of minutes.

If you’re new to GuardTree, simply go to our plan calculator page to get started on your customized protection.

If you're an existing customer of GuardTree, you can easily cancel your previous subscription and enter your next vehicle’s details through your online account.


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Disclaimer: This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute mechanical or other professional advice as it relates to your vehicle. Each person must consult a qualified professional with respect to matters referenced in this post. GuardTree Inc. assumes no liability whatsoever for actions taken (or not taken) in reliance upon the information contained herein.