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The Complete Guide to Vehicle Sale in Canada

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Selling your car can be a daunting process, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can navigate through a vehicle sale it smoothly. Whether you’re selling privately, to a dealer, or online, this comprehensive guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to sell your car in Canada. While the exact requirements may vary by province or territory, we will cover the general process that applies nationwide. Let’s get started!

Preparing Your Car for Sale: A Checklist for Success

Before listing a vehicle sale, it’s essential to ensure that it looks good and runs well. Taking the following steps will help you maximize its appeal to potential buyers:

1. Get the car serviced

Address any outstanding maintenance, warranty work, or repairs before listing your car for sale. If you cannot afford or it’s not feasible to fix certain issues, consider factoring them into your asking price.

2. Get the car cleaned

Give your car a thorough cleaning, both inside and out. You can either do it yourself or hire a professional detailer. Don’t forget to clean the engine bay as well, as buyers will notice if it appears neglected. For a detailed guide on how to wash your car by hand, check out our article here.

3. Take a set of photographs

If you’re selling privately, high-quality photographs are crucial for attracting potential buyers. Use a smartphone or any camera you have available to capture different angles of your car, including close-ups of special features and any imperfections. Remember to include a photo of the odometer to provide proof of the current reading.

4. Gather the necessary documents

In every province, you’ll need a copy of the vehicle ownership certificate and your province’s version of the ownership transfer form. Additional requirements may include a used vehicle information package (UVIP) in Ontario or lien searches in other provinces. Some provinces may also require a safety inspection and a safety standards certificate. If there are any known issues with the vehicle that you don’t intend to fix or if it’s not in drivable condition, you’ll need to draft paperwork declaring the sale as-is to protect yourself from future liability. Consider gathering your car’s service records and ordering a vehicle history report for potential buyers’ peace of mind.

Determining the Value of Your Car: Tips for Getting the Best Price

To ensure that you get a fair deal when selling your car, it’s crucial to have an idea of its value. Factors such as the model year, make and model, odometer reading, overall condition, and even the color can affect what your car will fetch on the used vehicle market. Here are some tips for determining the value of your car:

  • Consult a used vehicle valuation reference guide, such as the used car sales app WellSold to get an estimate. 
  • Check used vehicle listing websites popular in your area to see the asking prices of similar cars with the same make, model, model year, and odometer readings.
  • Be realistic as you browse these listings and consider how the exact condition and mileage of your car may impact its value.

Selling Your Car to a Dealer

Selling your car to a dealer can be a convenient option, as they handle most of the work for you. However, keep in mind that dealers will offer you less than what you might get through private car sell. If maximizing profit is your priority, selling privately may be a better choice. Here are some key points to consider when selling your car to a dealer:

  • Dealers buy cars at wholesale prices to make a profit.
  • When you want to trade a car, research the trade-in value of your car to have a baseline for negotiations.
  • Understand that the dealer will inspect your car and consider factors such as its condition, market demand, and current inventory when making an offer.
  • Be prepared to negotiate the price offered by the dealer.
  • Remember that selling to a dealer is usually faster but less profitable than selling privately.

Selling Your Car Online

Selling your car online is becoming increasingly popular due to its convenience and broad reach. Online platforms like WellSold offer services that simplify the selling process. Here’s how selling your car online typically works:

  1. Make an appointment with a company representative who will appraise your car.

  1. The representative will list your car online and handle the paperwork and vehicle pick-up.

  1. You will receive the best offer the company receives for your car.

Selling Your Car Privately: How to Have a Successful Vehicle Sale

Selling your car privately gives you the opportunity to maximize your profit, but it requires more effort on your part. Creating an effective ad is crucial for attracting potential buyers. Here are some tips to help you create an engaging and informative ad:

  1. Include essential details such as the make, model, model year, and odometer reading in the headline.

  1. Be descriptive and highlight any unique features or selling points of your car, such as heated seats or good fuel economy.

  1. Mention if you have service records available or if any warranties are still applicable and transferrable.

  1. Explain why you’re selling the car to build trust with potential buyers.

  1. Clearly state the asking price and whether it’s negotiable. Consistency across platforms is important to establish trust.

  1. Specify the forms of payment you accept.

Listing your car on popular used car sales websites is a surefire way to maximize its visibility and reach potential buyers far and wide. These platforms have established themselves as go-to destinations for car shoppers, attracting a vast and diverse audience actively searching for their dream vehicles. By leveraging the wide user base of such websites, your car listing gains exposure to a multitude of interested buyers, increasing the chances of finding the perfect match for your vehicle.

Negotiating a Private Vehicle Sale: Tips for a Successful Transaction

When selling your car privately, you’ll likely receive multiple inquiries and engage in negotiations with potential buyers. Follow these tips to ensure a smooth transaction:

  1. Be prepared to answer frequently asked questions, such as whether you have service records or if there are any liens on the vehicle.

  1. Take precautions to protect your personal information and arrange initial meetings in busy public places during the day.

  1. Allow potential buyers to test drive or inspect the car while ensuring some form of security, such as holding onto their health card or house key.

  1. Expect some back-and-forth negotiations before reaching an agreeable price. Set a minimum price based on fair market value and stand firm on that limit.

  1. Don’t hesitate to walk away from a potential vehicle sale if the buyer isn’t negotiating fairly or treating you with disrespect.

  1. When accepting payment, it’s advisable to avoid personal cheques and opt for safer options like cash, certified cheques, or bank drafts.

Transferring Ownership: A Step-by-Step Guide on a Vehicle Sale

Once you’ve agreed on a price with a buyer, you’ll need to complete certain documentation to transfer ownership. The specific steps and requirements vary by province. Here’s a general guide:

Complete the Bill of Sale

Create a document that includes the vehicle sale date, full names and contact information of the buyer and seller, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), make and model, agreed-upon price, and signatures of both parties. Printable templates are available online, and some provinces provide their own templates, such as the UVIP in Ontario.

Complete the Transfer of Ownership document

This document is typically attached to the vehicle ownership certificate and completed by the buyer.

Complete an As-Is declaration: If required, draft a document stating that the car is being sold “as-is” and have both parties sign and date it.

Remove licence plates

The seller is responsible for removing the licence plate(s) from the vehicle, except in Newfoundland and Labrador where the plate(s) transfer with the vehicle.

Notify the motor vehicle registration authority

Depending on the jurisdiction, this step may need to be done by the seller, the buyer, or both parties. Contact the appropriate motor vehicle registration authority in your province for specific instructions.

Cancel your insurance

Cancel the insurance on the sold vehicle and transfer it to your new one if applicable. The new owner will need to secure insurance for the vehicle after ownership has been transferred.

Pay applicable fees

As a seller, you usually don’t need to pay any fees apart from insurance cancellation fees. The buyer will be responsible for paying fees to register the vehicle and any applicable sales tax.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Selling your car in Canada doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to sell your car privately, to a dealer, or online. Remember to gather all necessary documents, determine the value of your car, and create an effective ad. Negotiate with potential buyers, take precautions during test drives, and ensure a smooth transfer of ownership. With these tips and guidance, you’ll be on your way to successful car sales.

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