With many documents to assemble and legal hurdles to cross, selling a used car in Ontario is a detailed process that requires careful planning and organization. 

To help you through the process, we’ve outlined the necessary steps for selling a used car in Ontario as well as what to watch out for when doing so. We also offer some alternatives to going through the stress of a private sale, which can help you save time and possibly money. So let’s dive in!

Pricing Your Vehicle

Before trying to sell your used car in Ontario, you must first determine its price. And while that may seem like an obvious thing to point out, it’s important to know what price to set it at. Ask for too much and you might struggle to drum up interest from potential buyers. Ask for too little and you leave money on the table. 

To determine your vehicle’s true value in the market, there are several places you can go, starting with the Canadian Black Book (CBB). At CBB, simply enter the year, make, model, trim level, and a few other details about your car to get the average asking price in your area. 

Keep in mind that just because you’ve set an asking price, that doesn't mean a buyer will actually pay that much. Most buyers will attempt to negotiate a lower purchase price, so make a mental note of the lowest offer you’re willing to accept. 

In some cases, the lowest offer you’re willing to accept may be the remaining balance on the auto loan attached to your vehicle, or perhaps the amount you need to buy a new car. If neither of those factors applies, the lower end of the private party range suggested on KBB is a good baseline to set as your lowest acceptable offer. 

Did you know that you can get an instant cash offer on your car at Clutch? Simply enter a few details about your ride to get a firm offer in minutes.

Listing Your Vehicle

After determining a fair asking price, you need to list the vehicle somewhere. Here are a few listing options for selling a used car in Ontario along with 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 sign in the window can attract the attention of many buyers. 

Yet there are plenty of downsides to this listing method — beginning with safety. A car parked on the side of the road with a "for sale" sign in the window can be a distraction to other drivers and possibly cause an accident. 

Also, as cars zoom by, they may not notice your vehicle is for sale in the first place. And even if they do see the sign, they may not have a chance to stop and get the information they need to follow up. Plus, you're limiting your set of potential buyers to only those people who drive by. What about everyone else in your area? 

Finally, there's the legality of it all. Depending on local laws, it may not be legal to park a for-sale vehicle on the side of the road. 

Free Online Listings

From Craigslist to Kijiji to Facebook Marketplace and beyond, there's no shortage of free online listing services for selling a used car in Ontario. 

What’s great about these options is that they let you list your used vehicle for sale with no upfront costs or commissions if the vehicle sells. Plus, they’re extremely popular sites, with smart search features 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. 

Yet while there are plenty of reasons to sell a used car in Ontario using a free listing service, some flaws exist — most notably the abundance of scams. Since these sites are free to use, scammers can easily target people for theft or other illicit activities. 

There are other issues, too, including non-serious buyers, low-balling hagglers, and countless “tire kickers” who have no real interest in buying your vehicle at a fair price and will only waste your time. Plus, there is virtually limitless competition on these free sites, diluting the potential buyer pool. 

Paid Online Listings

Paid online listings take the free listing model and bump them up a notch. Not only are these sites generally more organized, but some also integrate other features, like motor vehicle history reports. These sites also tend to attract more serious buyers than free listing platforms, and can connect potential buyers to financing options that can help them purchase your used vehicle.

The big downside to these services, of course, is that you often need to pay a fee regardless of whether or not your vehicle sells. Plus, you'll still deal with an abundance of competition from private sellers and dealerships alike, often burying your car deep in the search results. 

Free Online Used Car Platforms

Clutch, Canada’s largest online used car retailer, lets you sell your car quickly, easily, 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. No platform fees, no tire kicking, and no low-balling whatsoever. Best of all, you can drop off your car at a facility near you or arrange for pick-up right at your door!

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

Interested in getting a new car while selling your old one? That’s where trade-ins come in. We have 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

Regardless of where you sell your used car in Ontario, there are specific documents you must have ready for the new owner. Getting them in order right after listing the vehicle will help save you the headache of rushing around to find them when someone's ready to buy. 

Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)

The UVIP is a critical component to 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. 

It takes approximately five business days to receive the UVIP in the mail. 

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

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

You can get the Safety Standards Certificate by taking your vehicle to a Ministry of Transportation (MTO)-licenced inspection station and having them complete a safety inspection. 

The Safety Standards Certificate is good for 36 days, so if your vehicle sits on the market for a while, you may have to pay to get several inspections. These generally cost $80-$125, so the cost can add up. 

Some sellers prefer to wait until they make a deal with a buyer before getting the Safety Standards Certificate. This can save you money, but it could also result in delays. 

Paperwork to Give the New Owner

After the negotiation process and 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
  • Complete and signed Application for Transfer, which is on the back of the ownership permit
  • Safety Standards Certificate

When the buyer takes the vehicle, make sure to 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 car 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

There are a lot of tire kickers out there. 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. As a result, you can end 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, you may run into limited interest in a 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 risen in frequency with the explosion of online private sales. Whether it's someone paying with a fraudulent cheque or a more elaborate scheme, this is a huge risk when dealing with buyers yourself. 

The other side of the equation is your personal safety. If you invite the buyer to your home, you have no idea what this person’s intentions are. They may be using the “test drive” as a way 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're planning 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. Yes, you'll generally get more money in a private sale, 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. When trading your vehicle into the dealership, they handle 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), but, if you trade, 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 $30,000 vehicle from a car dealership and received a $15,000 trade-in credit for the car you just sold to them, you'd only pay HST on just the remaining $15,000. That adds up to just $1,950, while HST on the entire $30,000 would have been $3,900. In other words, you save $1,950.

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 low-ball 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