The Toronto car market is highly competitive, making it essential to have a well-thought-out approach when selling your vehicle. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about selling your car in Toronto, from determining your car’s value and setting a competitive price to creating an effective listing and navigating interactions with potential buyers. By following these tips, you’ll increase your chances of a successful sale in Toronto’s bustling market.

Selling Your Car in Toronto 

Selling your used car in Toronto is a multistep process that requires some attention to detail and patience in order to get the best price for your car. With these 12 steps, you'll have a firm grip on how to sell a car in Toronto with relative ease.

Step 1: Determine the Value of Your Car

When deciding whether to sell your car, the first step is to determine its current market value. Start by using Clutch’s Sell My Car tool or Car Value Guide to get a value for your vehicle. Be honest about your car’s condition, including any mechanical issues, to get a realistic estimate and avoid disappointment later in the process.

Using Clutch’s Sell My Car tool:

  • Enter the Vehicle Identification Number ( VIN) or licence plate and answer some simple questions about your car.
  • Get an instant market value of your car.
  • Receive weekly updates as your car’s value changes.

Using Car Value Guide:

  • Enter the VIN, mileage, and trim.
  • Receive a range for the vehicle’s market value.

Other tools to consider include Canadian Black Book and Canadian Red Book, which are both helpful for determining what your car is worth.

If the value of your car exceeds the loan balance, you can likely sell the vehicle without leaving a balance on the loan.

If you don’t have a loan on the vehicle, use the market value provided by Clutch or Car Value Guide to determine if the sale price will leave you enough money to afford a replacement vehicle.

How To Sell a Car

Step 2: Determine an Asking Price

The asking price of your vehicle is your ideal selling price. You can determine this using the market value from step one and by looking at the price of similar cars in your area.

The first part of pricing your vehicle is to set a bottom-dollar price, which is the lowest amount you’ll accept for your vehicle. Be sure to consider the balance of any existing loans on the car when making this decision.

Next is to decide on your asking price. If you are in a hurry to sell your car, consider setting your asking price closer to your bottom-dollar price.

Selling your car for top dollar takes more time. Toronto is a big city with lots of buyers, so there is always a chance someone may be willing to pay a higher price for your car. If you can wait longer to sell, consider setting your asking price above the market value. You can always drop the price if you don’t get any serious inquiries in the first week. Remember, this is simply your asking price. Most car buyers will try to negotiate the best price, so make sure there's room to wiggle.

Step 3: Prepare the Vehicle for Sale

While no used car is perfect, you want to make yours as good as you can. If your car has any lingering repair needs or just needs a good cleaning, now's the time to handle that. This will give your buyers confidence that your car is a reliable vehicle and in good condition. 

You should also remove all your unnecessary personal items from the vehicle. If you plan to drive the car while trying to sell it, you can keep essential things in place, like your cellphone charger or GPS. But you should clear everything else out so a buyer can easily test drive or purchase the vehicle and take it home the same day without any unnecessary delays. 

This is also a great time to get all of your vehicle’s documents in order. This includes the vehicle registration permit and service records. You may also want to pull a vehicle history report, such as a Carfax, to show potential buyers the vehicle wasn’t in an accident and the odometer reading is accurate.

Prepare the Vehicle for Sale

Step 4: Order a Used Vehicle Information Package

When you’re selling your used car in Toronto (or anywhere in Ontario) you must include a used vehicle information package (UVIP). It’s best to order the UVIP early in the process to ensure it doesn’t delay the sale with any potential buyers. 

The UVIP includes key vehicle information, like:

  • Vehicle details (year, make, model, colour, body type, engine, and power)
  • Vehicle registration history
  • Licence plate information
  • Vehicle lien information
  • Average wholesale value of the vehicle
  • Retail sales tax information
  • Vehicle condition and mechanical fitness
  • If it's a salvage vehicle

The UVIP will also include a bill of sale section for finalizing a transaction. You can order the UVIP through your province online.

Step 5: Decide Where To Sell Your Vehicle

Sure, you can park your car on the side of the road, toss a “for sale” sign in the window, and hope for the best, but you're vastly limiting the number of potential buyers. Selling your car online gives you a much larger audience. To access the vast Toronto car market you will want to list your car on multiple online used car marketplaces.

There are plenty of free and paid options for selling a car in Toronto. Your choice depends on your budget and urgency to sell the vehicle. The most popular automotive marketplaces in Toronto are Autotrader, Kijiji, and Facebook Marketplace. If you are keen to sell your vehicle quickly and have it priced competitively consider paying to promote it. This is option is available on all three of the sites listed above. Promoting your ad is also a good idea if you are looking to get top dollar for your car. Unless your car is extremely rare, there is no need to promote your ad provincially or outside of the GTA. Keep it local to attract buyers who are close by. 

Remember, paying to promote your ad doesn’t guarantee anything. It just gives you a better chance of selling your car more quickly or for a higher price.

If you choose to sell your car yourself, always advertise it “as-is,” meaning what the buyer sees is what they get. Selling it as-is prevents a buyer from pursuing legal action if the car they purchased from you breaks down after they buy it. 

You can also decide to trade in your vehicle instead of selling it to a private buyer. A trade-in offers you several benefits. First, there’s no need to deal with prospective buyers calling and texting you all day. Second, all the paperwork is handled for you. Finally, and most importantly, some provinces deduct the value of your trade-in from the cost of your new vehicle, reducing the sales tax you pay on it. 

You can get a trade-in offer for your car online with Clutch’s Sell My Car tool. If you’re not in the market for a replacement vehicle, we can still help, as we purchase quality used cars too.

Deciding Where to Sell Your Vehicle

Step 6: Take High-Quality Pictures

Pictures are generally the first things any potential buyer looks at. There are tens of thousands of cars for sale in Toronto, and if your photos aren’t up to par your car will quickly get overlooked. High-quality photos will get the attention of buyers and give them a reason to contact you and set up an in-person visit. 

There's no need to get professional pictures taken, though. Instead, just make sure to photograph the vehicle from all angles inside and out and to capture any and all high-value features that buyers will appreciate. For the best result, find somewhere with good lighting. A parking lot on a sunny day is a great option.

Also, take detailed pictures of any flaws. It may seem counterproductive to take pictures of the flaws, but this candidness will give the buyer confidence that what they see in the images is what they'll see in person. Including flaws eliminates wasted time when buyers arrive only to find an unacceptable scratch, dent, or other flaw in your vehicle.

Step 7: Write Your “For Sale” Ad

When writing your ad you should always be as open and transparent as possible. If the car is in excellent shape, feel free to highlight that. However, if it has a few flaws, make sure to list those too. Be descriptive and provide extra detail if necessary. Car buyers will appreciate knowing all this information upfront, plus it builds trust. 

Make sure to list all the key features a buyer may want to know about. If you are unsure of what high-value features your car has, try going the the manufacturer’s website for a full list. Also, be sure to note any upgrades or modifications to the vehicle. For example, if you have a vehicle that predated Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but you installed an aftermarket head unit that includes these desirable features, highlight that. 

And of course, include multiple good methods of contact, including cell phone, email, and WhatsApp. Also, let buyers know how you prefer to communicate: phone call, messaging, or email.

Other must-have information in your ad includes:

  • Year, make, model, series, and trim level
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Kilometres
  • Exterior colour
  • Interior colour
  • Engine size and number of cylinders
  • Transmission type
  • Driveline format (front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, etc.)

Step 8: Field Potential Buyers' Phone Calls and Messages

With your “for sale” ad live, the calls and messages are hopefully pouring in. If your ad was thorough, most callers should ask only a few questions before requesting a test drive. 

Sometimes car buyers don't thoroughly read the ad. Instead, they see a car they like and immediately scroll to the phone number. These buyers may ask you questions you already answered in the ad. It can be frustrating to answer these questions repeatedly, but keep your cool and answer the questions politely. You never know if this might be the right buyer for your car. 

Most importantly, remember, there are no stupid or pointless questions. If the buyer's asking a question, it’s important to them. Answer it as best you can and move on.  

Step 9: Arrange In-Person Visits and Test Drives

Every car sale will eventually lead to the point where potential buyers want to see the car in person and test drive it. Set up a 30- to 40-minute meeting at your home or a public space for the potential buyer to view and test drive the vehicle. Some buyers may live across town or outside of the Greater Toronto Area so be accommodating when it comes to meeting locations.

Before the meeting, draft a liability waiver that makes the test driver liable for any damages to your vehicle during the test drive. Once you meet with the potential buyer, ask for their driver's licence and take a picture of it or scan it for your records. Also, have the buyer sign the liability waiver. 

From there, give the buyer space to look the vehicle over but be available to answer any questions. Once the buyer completes a visual inspection, allow them to take it for a 20- to 30-minute test drive. It's up to you whether you prefer to ride with them or let them drive the vehicle alone. 

The buyer may also want to take the vehicle to their preferred mechanic for a quick inspection. This is a typical request and will help build the buyer’s confidence in buying your vehicle.

Negotiate the Deal

Step 10: Negotiate the Deal

The buyer loved your vehicle and wants to make a deal, but they likely want the best price possible. So, the negotiation process begins.

Always start at your asking price and let them think it over. They will likely come back with a lower offer, but don't be afraid to come back with a counteroffer that’s closer to your asking price. Reiterate the high-value features you listed in your ad and note any work that was recently done on the vehicle to justify your asking price.

Always keep your bottom-dollar price firm while negotiating. Buyers are always looking for a deal, and in a large city like Toronto, you can expect to get plenty of experienced negotiators. Keep your poise and stick to your price,  as you must be able to pay off any loans on the vehicle and have the cash remaining to get a new vehicle. 

Once you agree on a price with the buyer, it's time to close the deal.

Step 11: Close the Deal

You’ve agreed on a selling price and it's time to seal the deal. Start by verifying the buyer's funds, whether it's cash, a bank transfer, or certified cheque. Collect the funds, then complete the bill of sale section of the UVIP and give that to the buyer. Avoid high-risk transactions like personal checks or PayPal or e-transfers. 

Complete and sign the “Application for Vehicle Transfer” section on the backside of your vehicle registration permit and give the buyer the vehicle registration permit. Without this, they can't transfer ownership of the vehicle.

In Ontario, selling a used vehicle to anyone other than your spouse requires a safety standards certificate from a licensed inspection station. 

Remove your licence plates and any remaining personal items from the vehicle and allow the new owner to arrange vehicle transport to their home. 

If your vehicle has an existing lien on it or you still owe money on the loan, use the funds from the buyer to pay off the lien or loan so the new owner can complete the ownership transfer. 

Step 12: Remove Car Insurance

Once the sale is complete, immediately contact your insurance company and have them remove your sold vehicle from your policy.

Streamline the Process of Selling Your Vehicle

Figuring out how to sell a car in Toronto on your own can get overwhelming, but with these 12 steps, you're on the right path to offload your old wheels and pick up a new car. While these steps will help, you can make it even easier by skipping the stress of a private-party sale with Clutch

Not only does Clutch offer a large inventory of quality used cars and a stress-free online car buying experience, but we’ll also take your car as a trade-in or purchase it outright. What's more, our online process allows you to trade or sell your car without setting foot inside a dealership. 

Just use the Clutch Sell My Car tool to get an instant offer for your car. If that offer is acceptable to you, choose a date and arrange to drop it off or have us pick it up. In most cases you’ll get paid instantly, although some transactions may take up to three days.

If you choose to trade in with Clutch this also means we deduct the trade-in value of your car from the sales price of your new vehicle, reducing the sales tax you pay on it. It’s a win-win.