Buying & selling a car

Selling your car: 9 things to remember

Selling a car doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. Here are our 9 tips to help you get a quick sale and a great price.
  1. Get your paperwork in order

  2. Used Vehicle Information Package

    Ontario law requires that you buy a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) before you sell your car. You’ll be handing the package over to the new owner once your car is sold. The UVIP contains info on the car’s make, model, colour, etc. as well as its ownership history. It’ll prove to the buyer that you actually own the car you’re selling.

    The package will cost you $20 and is delivered to you in about 5 working days. You’ll need your vehicle identification number (VIN) or licence plate number to order the package.

    Double check that the VIN on the car matches the number listed on your documents.

    Check the car's in the clear

    Make sure there are no loans or money owed on your car at the time you are selling it.

    Drive Clean

    It is a sign of good faith to get your car Drive Clean tested if necessary, as well as safety tested before you sell the car. Your buyer may ask for these certificates. Remember that Drive Clean is good for a year, but the Safety expires in 36 days, so time your testing right.

    A licenced mechanic must perform the safety test. Look for a sign with Ontario Motor Vehicle Inspection Station on it.
  3. Make sure the price is right

    Getting the price right is important. You can look at websites like to get an idea of how much similar cars are going for to help you get an idea of what yours is worth. Note the mileage and condition of the cars, as well as whether they are for sale privately or through a dealer.

    Use a free online tool like Canadian Black Book’s to help you value your car.
  4. Decide where to sell

    There used to be just 2 ways to sell your car: a trade-in/sale to a dealer or a private sale. These days you also have online auction sites as well as companies who will simply buy your car with no hassle whatsoever.

    Each option has its own pros and cons - a dealer or online buying company will certainly be the easiest option, but it won’t get you the most money. 

    An online auction can be risky and selling privately on a listings site is definitely the most time consuming of all the options.

  5. Write a great ad

    If you decide to go down the route of a private sale, you can maximize interest by getting your ad just right.

    There are a number of different places you can advertise:

    • Local newspapers
    • Free ads papers
    • Online at sites like Kijiji, Craigslist, and Autotrader
    • Community bulletin boards
    • On your car (Put a banner on the windshield, your neighbours might be interested!)

    Online listing sites will usually help you by giving you a number of fixed fields to complete.


    • Make and model
    • Year of registration
    • Plate number
    • Mileage
    • Service history
    • Colour
    • List of features
    • Price
    • Your contact details

    Keep the ad short and simple, and above all make sure you are honest to avoid wasting anyone’s time. It’s also worth remembering that false advertising is illegal!

  6. Take good photos

    If you’re advertising online it’s really important that you include photos that show your car looking its best. It needn’t take long and you don’t need any fancy equipment - just follow these basic rules:

    • Clean the car inside and out
    • Make sure your pictures are sharp and in focus
    • Make sure there is clear space around the car so you can get the whole car in shot
    • Take photos when the car is well lit and dry
    • Photograph important positive details such as new tires
    • And finally, don’t forget the interior!
  7. Prep the car for sale

    It goes without saying that a potential buyer will want to take a good look at the car before they hand over any money.

    • Making sure your car is sparkly clean will reassure buyers that it’s been well looked after.
    • Don’t forget the inside - clear out old cups and papers and use an air freshener to get rid of any lingering smells.
    • Make sure you top up the oil and water as well as the air in the tires if you need to.
    • Get all the paperwork together so it’s organized and ready for the buyer to look through.
  8. Deal with potential buyers

    DO expect buyers to want to inspect the car and also take it for a test drive.

    DO make sure your insurance covers another driver for the test drive. Contact your insurance company to clarify.

    DO let potential buyers take their time inspecting the car and let them come back for a second look if they want to.

    DON’T ever let anyone test drive the car alone - they might not come back!

    Beware of canvassers who may contact you to try and persuade you to advertise elsewhere with a promise of buyers. They rarely live up to their own hype.

  9. Close the deal

    Don’t be surprised if a buyer tries to haggle with you. Work out your lowest price in advance and make sure you stick to it! 

    Make sure you’re happy with the payment method. Cash is most reliable but if you take payment in the form of a cheque, let the funds clear in your bank account before you let the buyer take the car.

    Set up a free PayPal account so buyers can pay by card - it might persuade them to decide to buy there and then!
  10. Final steps

    • Fill out the details on the Bill of Sale in the UVIP.
    • Complete and sign the Application for Transfer. The Application for Transfer is on the back of the "vehicle portion" of the registration permit.
    • Give the UVIP and the "vehicle portion" of the registration permit to the buyer.
    • Keep your licence plates and the "plate portion" of the vehicle registration permit. You’ll need the permit to register your plates on another car.
    • It’s a good idea to visit a Service Ontario centre to get a “report of sale” status placed against your car. This can help you avoid surprise fees on your car after you’ve stopped using it. One gentleman, for example, received a $798 towing fee five years after his car was sold!

    Finally, keep a note of the buyer's details. Just in case...


    Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.