The Guide to Selling a Car in Ontario

Posted on April 27, 2021

Selling a car in Ontario is a great way to make a little extra cash this year. Canadian used car dealers have raked in over $1 billion in January 2021 alone. 

Before you make the sale, though, you need to decide on a buyer. Will you go with a dealership or a private entity? Once you decide, you'll need to prep your used vehicle and any necessary paperwork to get the most value. 

Want to know more about getting the most money out of your used car? Then you better keep reading our guide to selling a used car in Ontario. 

When Is the Best Time to Sell a Car in Ontario?

The best time to sell your vehicle in Ontario is right now. Your car will never be younger, have fewer miles, or be in better condition than it is right now. The longer you hold onto your car, the less value potential buyers will see in it. 

Additional factors that can help you determine when to sell include demand, market comps, and insurance costs.

2021 is an excellent time to be selling a used vehicle. Used vehicles are in short supply at Canadian dealerships right now. And when supply is low, prices go through the roof. 

It's generally better to sell your car in late summer or fall, especially if you want to sell your vehicle to a dealership. Dealers run sales before the end of the year. If they buy your vehicle, they'll probably want to pay a lower rate. 

At the same time, many people go car shopping at the end of the year. To avoid end-of-year dealer sales and get the best rate for your car, try selling your vehicle privately between October and December. 

The final factor to consider before selling your car in Ontario is insurance costs. February and August are generally the cheapest months to buy the insurance and, therefore, the best months to sell a car. 

How Do I Prepare My Car to Be Sold?

Prepping your vehicle for a sale is critical. Why? The more your prepare for sale, the more sellable your used car will be and the better value you'll get from it. 

For example, if you have the means, you should always repair any damaged vehicle parts before selling. Selling a damaged car can markedly lower its value. The money put into repairs will add hundreds to the price of your car. 

If you can't afford to get your car fixed before the sale, you can still get a good deal. You'll want to advertise your vehicle "as-is," though. When you do this, buyers won't balk at purchasing your car in less-than-perfect condition. 

Want more tips on making your car more sellable? Check out our top tips below!

Gather the Necessary Paperwork

If you don't have one already, you should first apply for a safety standard certificate. Ontario's safety standards certificate will prove to prospective buyers that your car meets the province's minimum standards for auto safety.

Safty Standards website Image

Of course, you'll also need your title and bill of sale. Additional paperwork that could increase the value of your vehicle include service records, a history report, and, if it applies, proof of a clear title.

Service records show how many times the vehicle has been serviced or repaired. This will build trust with buyers, making them more likely to pay the price you're offering.

You can get a history report for your car from free services like Carfax. A vehicle history report will detail your car's accident record. It will also show if the car has a title, another reason to prepare essential paperwork beforehand.

Title clearances only apply to previously financed vehicles. Financiers hold liens on titles until you pay off the loan. Call your lending officer, and they can send proof of a clear, lien-free title before you make the sale.

Get the Car Detailed and Serviced

Always get your vehicle detailed and serviced before you put it on the used car market.

A good detailing job and full servicing will add value to your vehicle. It will also put off experienced used car buyers who may use a lack of detailing or servicing to negotiate a lower price. 

Should I Stop Driving My Car Before Selling It?

If you can, stop driving your car before you sell it. Mileage is one of the biggest factors in a used car's price. The fewer miles your car has on it when you put it up for sale, the more buyers will be willing to pay. 

What Is My Vehicle Worth in Canada?

A used car's value doesn't just depend on when you sell and your preparedness before the sale. There are hundreds of additional factors that affect how much buyers are willing to pay, including:

  • Trim package
  • Add-ons
  • Rarity

But, in general, you can find the market value of your car online or from your insurance company.

How to Get Your Car's Value Online

Carfax Info webite Image

For example, Carfax's car value calculator allows you to compare your used car to similar vehicles that have sold recently near you. Because Carfax uses selling prices instead of listing prices, it can give you a realistic picture of how much you can expect to sell for.

You can also use the Canadian Black Book value of your automobile. The Black Book is a website where you can find out the market value of your car, whether you want to do a trade-in or sell it outright. 

Blackbook website Image

Black Book calculates its values the same way a dealership would appraise a vehicle. So, this website can not only give you a good price to use as a private seller. It can also tell you how much a dealership might pay.

Once you get your car's value off of Black Book, it's always a good idea to seek a second opinion.

Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) is another pricing system you could reference. Edmunds' values are often more accurate and, therefore, more reliable. 

Getting Your Car's Value from Insurers

When it comes to used cars, market value is different than actual cash value (ACV). ACV would be the value of your car if a car insurer were paying you out after a total loss. Still, ACV and market value tend to be highly similar.

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That means you can use ACV to determine how much you should list your vehicle. 

Can I Sell My Car to a Dealership?


A dealership is arguably the easiest place to sell your used car. You don't have to take the time to list your vehicle online, and you don't have to pay to market your listing. 

These benefits come with one major downside, though. Dealers likely won't negotiate with you on price as private buyers will. The value they think your car is worth is the price they'll offer you, typically with no wiggle room. 

This is why, before you even step foot in a dealership, it's an absolute must that you know the market value of your car. If the dealer lowballs you, you can take your business elsewhere, knowing you'll get a better quote.

Don't stop at the first dealer who offers to buy your used car. As we mentioned, the used car scene is a seller's market right now. Get quotes from multiple dealers in your area to get the best deal.

And don't just consider dealerships. You should also try to sell your car to used car dealer networks like AutoIQ

Can I Sell My Financed Car to a Dealership?

Yes, dealerships will buy your financed vehicle even if there are still outstanding payments on the loan. In fact, dealers are probably more likely to purchase your financed car than a private buyer.

The only difference between selling a financed and a regular car is that your lender will have a lien on the vehicle. This means, if a bank is your financier, the bank technically owns your car until you've satisfied all loan payments.

You have two options here. You could pay off your bank loan upfront and use the funds from the sale to reimburse yourself. Or you can use the funds from the sale to pay off your car loan directly. 

Consider a Trade-In

Have you considered trading in your used car instead of selling it? A trade-in allows you to sell your used vehicle to a dealership. In exchange, you can put that money down on a new purchase.

And here's the thing about trade-ins: you can get some serious tax savings on your new vehicle. In Ontario, you only have to pay tax on the new car's value after your trade-in value is applied.

A trade-in is the best option if you're planning to purchase a new car from a dealer anyway. Otherwise, you may see more value in selling your car on the private market. 

How to Sell a Car Privately

These days, selling your used automobile privately is easy. There are dozens of online used car listings where you can easily put your car up for sale to private buyers. 

And the best thing about selling privately? You have full control over the sales process. That means you may be able to get a higher price for your vehicle than if you went to a dealer. 

Here's how to sell a car privately in Ontario. 

List Your Used Car Online

The fastest way to sell your car privately is to market it on a used car listing website. Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji Autos are two excellent online locations to list your used vehicle. They're also free to use.

You used to have to pay to make a listing on AutoTrader. Not anymore, though, because you can now list your used car for free online. The site also offers upgraded packages that will run you up to $70.

The benefit of AutoTrader is that it's the go-to marketplace for used cars. That means this website will help you attract the high-quality buyers you're looking for. 

Prepare the Contract

You need a contract to record the sale of your car. When you go to a dealer, the odds are that they'll provide a bill of sale for you. Making a private sale means you need to create your own, which should include:

  • The buyer's contact information
  • The date of the sale
  • Vehicle identification information
  • The sale price
  • Any additional legally binding conditions of the sale

Once you've sold your vehicle, you'll need to sign the contract. You must also obtain the buyer's signature to ensure the contract is enforceable if you ever need to take legal action. 

How Do I Stay Safe When Selling a Car Online?

Selling on the private market is always risky. But we've provided you with the tools you need to do your research and determine the true value of your car.

As long as you know what your vehicle is worth and keep an eye out for scammers, feel confident that you can sell your car without any drama. 

What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car in Ontario?

Ontario requires sellers to produce used vehicle information packages for any used car sale. This package should include:

  • The vehicle's details
  • Registration history
  • Lien information
  • The wholesale or Black Book value of your car
  • Retail sales tax for the vehicle
  • The safety standards certificate
  • Your bill of sale

You also need to complete the new bill of sale for the purchase and application to transfer the title. 

Which Documents Go to the Buyer and Which Ones Do I Collect as the Seller?

Once you've sold your used vehicle, you'll give the new owner all of the paperwork we listed above. That includes your used car information package, the bill of sale for the purchase, and the new title.

The only thing you get to keep is your license plate and any ownership documents related to the car. 

Ready to Sell Your Car?

Selling a car in Ontario is easy, whether you want to sell to a dealership or a private buyer. We hope this guide has helped you feel confident about putting your used car on the market. 

Are you selling your car to get a new one? You'll need insurance for that. Get a car insurance quote for your new vehicle from Insurdinary today!

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