Everything You Need to Know About Selling Your Car Privately in Ontario


Selling a car privately may seem like an easy task, and depending on your asking price, it can be. But if it’s easy, chances are you could’ve gotten more money for the sale. If you want to truly get every last penny out of a private car sale, it’s going to take effort through planning and preparation. We wrote this article to give you all the knowledge and tools needed to sell your car privately. We want to ensure that all your bases are covered and you can walk away with the money you were hoping to get for your used vehicle.

How Much is My Car Worth?

Before you do anything, you need to determine the value of your vehicle and decide on a reasonable asking price. This is a critical step in the process that should not be rushed as a high asking price can leave you without any offers and a low asking price can have you left with money on the table. 

In order to find your vehicle’s market value, we recommend using Canadian Black Book or Kelly Blue Book. Both sites allow you to enter basic information about your vehicle including its year, make, model, mileage and a few other bits of info to accurately determine its market value range.

Dealing with Detailing and Repairs

If you’re really serious about getting the most for your car, you should put money into making sure it looks as good as possible. This means spending $20 to put it through a car wash and if you really want to go the extra mile, spending $100-200 on having the vehicle detailed. While these upfront costs may seem unnecessary, it usually results in the vehicle being sold for a few hundred more dollars, covering the costs of the detailing and more.  

In order to sell a car privately in Ontario, you need a Safety Certificate. So taking your vehicle to a mechanic to make sure any necessary repairs are done is a smart step. While not having small dents in your vehicle may make the sale of the vehicle easier, these repairs can be costly and if they don’t create a safety hazard you may be better off leaving them.

Selling Your Car Online

The easiest way to get eyes on your vehicle listing is through vehicle marketplaces like AutoTrader.ca, Kijiji and Facebook marketplaces. Not only will these sites get your car viewed, but it won’t cost you a penny to upload or to sell as there are no upload or commission fees. If you’re in a rush to sell your vehicle, you also have the ability to pay to boost your ads to get in front of more potential buyers. For you old-school folks, the days of putting a “For Sale” sign in the dash of your car window are pretty much over. 

Take Great Photos

You may have taken your car to the best cleaner and detailer in town, but if you don’t take great photos of your vehicle, a freshly cleaned/detailed car doesn’t count for much. If you really want to ensure that your car is photographed perfectly, hire a professional photographer for an hour. If that’s out of your budget, use these simple techniques and tips with your smartphone to get the most out of your car photos.

  • For the best lighting conditions, shoot during golden hour. This means shooting the first hour after the sun rises and the last hour after the sun sets
  • Avoid shooting in direct sunlight as this creates harsh shadows and highlights that hide details 
  • For the exterior photos, stand 10-20 feet away from the vehicle so the entire vehicle is in frame and un-cropped
  • Take multiple photos of the exterior and from all sides and angles
  • Avoid using the zoom function on your phone camera, if you really need to zoom in on a certain detail you can edit the photo after
  • If you really want to be diligent in ensuring you don’t miss any details, create a checklist with all the shots you need to get 
  • Show all the details, special and luxury features
  • Get a photo of the odometer as proof of the mileage on the vehicle

Write a Clear Title and Description of the Vehicle

The best thing you can do when writing your title and description for your vehicle is keep it simple. For the title, only include the make, model, year, series, whether its an automatic transmission or manual and the mileage. For the vehicle description, it’s important to be fully transparent. Touch on the condition of the vehicle, if any repairs are needed or if there are any other issues the buyer should be aware of. 

What Documents do you Need to Sell a Car in Ontario?

In order to legally sell your vehicle in Ontario, you’re going to need to have the following documents:

1. Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP)

 In order to sell a used vehicle in Ontario the seller is legally obligated to purchase a UVIP and provide it to the buyer of the vehicle. A UVIP has a variety of information on the vehicle including its registration history, lien information and more. 

2. Bill of Sale

You’ll also need to provide a bill of sale. This can be either a hand written receipt or you have the option of using the template that comes with your UVIP. Regardless of the format you choose to use for the bill of sale, you need to include the following:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • The price paid by the buyer, including tax
  • Vehicle information (make, model, year, series, colour, transmission type and whether its gas, diesel or electric)
  • Name, address and signature of the current owner
  • Name and address of the buyer
  • The sale purchase date

3. Safety Standard Certificate

In order to prove that your vehicle meets the safety standards in Ontario you need to have a Safety Standard Certificate. To get a certificate, you need to take your vehicle to a licensed inspection station in Ontario. 

4. Application for Transfer

On the back of your ownership permit there’s a section for an application transfer. Once you’ve completed a sale with a buyer, you’ll need to fill out this application and give it to the buyer. The buyer then has 6 days to complete the registration of the vehicle, using the application transfer. Until the buyer has registered the vehicle at a Service Ontario, the vehicle will remain in the name of the seller. 

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