When you’re looking to sell a used car in Ontario, it’s critical to get all the details ahead of time to ensure a smooth transaction. You’ll have many documents to gather and some legal hoops to jump through, so selling a used car in Ontario requires careful planning and organization. 

To guide you through the process, we’ve outlined the necessary steps for selling a used car in Ontario and what to watch out for when doing so. On top of that, we give you a few alternatives to consider instead of bearing with the stress of a private sale, which can help you save time and possibly money.

So, let’s dive in and review all about selling a used car in Ontario.

Pricing Your Vehicle

Before you attempt selling your used car in Ontario, you must first settle on an asking price. And while that may seem like an obvious thing to point out, it’s important to know what the vehicle’s market value is before setting your price. If you set the price too far above the market value, you might struggle to drum up interest from potential buyers. However, asking too far below market value may help you offload it quickly, but you’ll leave money on the table. 

Determining your vehicle’s true market value starts at Canadian Black Book (CBB). At CBB, simply click “Value Your Vehicle” at the top of the page, then enter the year, make, model, and a few other details about your car to get the average asking price in your area. 

Always remember, the car-selling process is typically a negotiation. So, setting an asking price doesn’t always mean a buyer will actually pay that much. Most buyers will attempt to get the lowest purchase price, so make a mental note of the lowest offer you’re willing to accept. 

Sometimes, your bottom dollar is the remaining balance on the auto loan attached to your vehicle, or perhaps the amount you need to buy a new car or put a down payment on one. If neither of those factors applies, the lower end of the private party range suggested on Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is a good baseline to set as your lowest acceptable offer. 

You can also bypass all this busywork and get an instant cash offer on your car from Clutch. Simply enter a few details about your ride to get a firm offer in minutes. No need to even purchase a vehicle from us.

Listing Your Vehicle

Once you’ve determined a fair asking price, you must list the vehicle somewhere. Let’s review a few listing options for selling a used car in Ontario and their pros and cons.

Street Advertising

There's no shame in the tried and true method of drive-by advertising. Parking your car near a busy roadway with a “For Sale” sign in the window can attract the attention of many buyers. 

Yet this listing method has plenty of downsides — beginning with safety. Parking a car on the side of the road with a "For Sale" sign in the window can distract other drivers and possibly cause an accident. 

Another issue is the traffic speed on the roadway. If cars are zooming by at high speeds because you chose a main roadway, they have a split second to notice your vehicle is for sale. Even slower traffic on smaller roads may struggle to see your gem on the side of the road seeking a new owner.

Even if they do see the sign, they may not have a chance to stop and get the information they need to follow up. This also limits potential buyers to only those people who drive by. That’s leaving tons of potential customers out of the equation. 

And one final note: Consider the legality of it all. Depending on local laws, parking a for-sale vehicle on the side of the road may not be legal. This can lead to fines and maybe even having the vehicle impounded.

Free Online Listings

You have no shortage of free online marketplaces for selling a used car in Ontario, from Craigslist to Kijiji to Facebook Marketplace and beyond. 

The great thing about these marketplaces is you list your used vehicle for sale with no upfront costs or commissions if the vehicle sells. On top of that, they’re extremely popular sites and feature search options that allow potential buyers to find your vehicle. They also offer the ability to post copious pictures and long descriptions so buyers can feel confident reaching out. 

You have plenty of good reasons for selling a used car in Ontario on a free listing service, but some flaws exist — most notably the abundance of scams. Since these sites are free, scammers can easily target people for theft or other illicit activities. 

Other issues exist too, including non-serious buyers, low-balling hagglers, and countless “tire kickers” who really aren’t in the market for buying a vehicle at a fair price and will only waste your time. You also have virtually limitless competition on these free sites, diluting the potential buyer pool.

Paid Online Listings

Paid online listings have all the bells and whistles of the free listing site, but they bump them up a notch. These sites are often better organized and integrate other useful features, such as motor vehicle history reports. Another benefit is these sites often attract more serious buyers than free listing platforms. They can also connect potential buyers to financing options to help them purchase your used vehicle.

The big downside to these services is you generally pay a fee whether or not your vehicle sells. Plus, you'll still face abundant competition from private sellers and dealerships alike. This often buries your car deep in the search results unless you pay extra to be a featured listing.

Skip all the Online Used Car Platforms

With Clutch, Canada’s largest online used car retailer, selling a used car in Ontario is quick and easy, plus you’ll get a fair market price. Simply head to our Sell or Trade page and enter a few details about your ride to get a firm offer in minutes. You won’t deal with platform fees, tire kicking, and lowballing whatsoever — just a firm offer. Best of all, you can drop off your car at a nearby facility or arrange for pick-up right at your door!

Do you still have a loan on your car? No problem. We’ll save you the legwork and deduct the balance from your offer to pay it off ourselves.

Interested in getting a new car while selling your old one? This is where using your vehicle as a trade-in becomes a factor. Clutch has a huge selection of quality used cars to choose from in every style and budget. Plus, we’ll drop off your new car and pick up your old one all at the same time. And if you apply the value of your old ride towards the next one, you reduce the sales tax that goes with it. Smart, right?

Paperwork to Gather Before Selling a Used Car in Ontario

No matter how you plan on selling a used car in Ontario, you must have specific documents ready for the new owner. It’s best to have them in order right after listing the vehicle to help streamline the process when someone's ready to buy.

Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)

The UVIP is a critical component of any private-party vehicle sale in Ontario. This package includes: 

  • The vehicle’s year, make, model, colour, body type, number of cylinders, and power
  • A vehicle registration history
  • Additional information about the vehicle currently attached to the licence plate
  • Vehicle lien information
  • The average wholesale value of the vehicle, which determines the minimum retail sales tax applied
  • Retail sales tax information
  • Vehicle condition and whether it's determined to be mechanically unfit
  • Bill of sale section to fill out when transferring the vehicle to its new owner

You can order a UVIP online for $20. You'll need the used vehicle's vehicle identification number (VIN) or licence plate number and your Ontario driver's licence, registrant identification number, or name and address to complete the order. 

After completing this, your UVIP will be on its way to you via mail in five business days. Make sure to account for delivery time too.  

Thinking of selling your car to Clutch? Then don’t worry about getting your UVIP in order — we’ll handle that on our end.

Ownership Permit

You won't actually need your vehicle’s ownership permit until you're ready to make the transfer, make sure you know where that permit is located so you’re ready when the time comes.  

At Clutch, simply scan and upload a copy of your ownership permit during checkout and you’re good to go!

Safety Standards Certificate

The safety Standards Certificate is the final paperwork you'll need when selling a used car in Ontario. There's one exception to this rule, though. If you're selling your vehicle to your spouse, you don't need the safety certificate. 

To get the Safety Standards Certificate, take your vehicle to a Ministry of Transportation (MTO)-licenced inspection station and have them complete a safety inspection. 

The Safety Standards Certificate is valid for only 36 days, so if your vehicle takes a while to sell, you may have to pay for multiple inspections. These generally cost $80-$125, which can add up. 

To help save cash, some sellers wait until they make a deal with a buyer before getting the Safety Standards Certificate. The downside is this could also result in delays if there are issues with the inspection.

Paperwork to Give the New Owner

Once the buyer agrees to purchase your used car, you must ensure they receive all the documents they need to transfer ownership and register the vehicle. These documents include:

  • UVIP
  • A signed Bill of Sale with your name, the buyer's name and address, the date of sale, and the purchase price
  • Completed and signed Application for Transfer, which is on the back of the ownership permit
  • Safety Standards Certificate

Before the buyer takes the vehicle, remove your licence plates. Also, detach the "Plate Portion" of the ownership permit, which you'll need to register the plates to a new vehicle or request a refund for any full months remaining on your licence plate.

And remember, at Clutch, we’ll handle the UVIP, Bill of Sale, and Safety Standards Certificate on our end after you upload a few details about your car—we just need you to upload a copy of your Ownership Permit during checkout.

Risks of Being a Private Seller

Selling a used car in Ontario as a private seller usually means you'll get the most money for your vehicle, but it also comes with a certain amount of risk. Here are some of the drawbacks of selling a used car on your own.

Wasted Time

The world of private car sales has a lot of tire kickers. They love to look at cars, test drive them, haggle aggressively, and spend hours asking questions via text message and telephone, but they aren’t really in the market to buy a car at a fair price. This ends up wasting a lot of your time.

Limited Interest in Your Car

If you have a specialty vehicle with a niche group of potential buyers or a car that's not all that popular, limited interest could bog down your private sale. This could result in you waiting weeks or months for the right buyer to come around.

Car Buying Scams and Safety Issues

Car buying scams are nothing new, but they have become even more common as online private sales become more popular. Whether it's someone paying with a fraudulent cheque or a more elaborate scheme, this is a huge risk when dealing with buyers yourself. 

You also must consider your personal safety. If you invite the buyer to your home, you have no idea what this person’s intentions are. They may use the “test drive” to get a look at what valuables you may have on your property. If you choose to do a deal in a public parking lot, you could end up a victim of theft or another crime.

Benefits of Trading In Your Car Instead

If you plan to buy a replacement vehicle with the money you make from selling your current vehicle, you may want to consider trading it in at a dealership instead. A private sale will generally get you more money, but there are distinct advantages to trading your vehicle.

Save Time

Time is a valuable asset, and it's one of the few assets you can't replace. You can spare yourself the headache of dealing with buyers’ phone calls, test drives, and questions by simply trading in your vehicle instead.

Let Someone Else Handle the Paperwork

Gathering all the necessary paperwork for a private party sale can be tedious and time-consuming. If you do a dealership trade-in, the dealer handles all the paperwork. You simply sign the documents and leave with your new car.

Tax Savings

Every Ontario car sale at a dealer is subject to a 13% harmonized sales tax (HST). However, if you trade the vehicle, that tax applies only to the cash difference between your trade-in vehicle and the vehicle you buy—not the total cost of your new car. And that means you save money.

For example, if you purchased a $20,000 vehicle from a car dealership and received a $10,000 trade-in credit for the car you just sold to them, you'd only pay HST on just the remaining $10,000. That adds up to just $1,300, while HST on the entire $20,000 would have been $2,600. In other words, you save $1,300.

Depending on the difference between your vehicle's trade-in value and the amount you could sell it for in a private sale, you could save money by trading it in.

Make Life Easy by Selling or Trading Your Vehicle With Clutch

As mentioned above, Clutch lets you sell your car quickly, seamlessly, and at a fair market price. Simply head to our Sell or Trade page and enter a few details about your ride to get a firm offer in minutes. We charge no platform fees, we don’t lowball our offers, and we don’t make last-minute driveway adjustments to our offer provided the information you provide on your car is accurate. We also make the paperwork as quick as can be. Plus, our offer is valid for 14 days, giving you plenty of time to look elsewhere in the process! So what are you waiting for? Get your instant cash offer today.

Clutch was recently named one of Canada’s top growing companies by The Globe and Mail. Learn more about Clutch at www.clutch.ca