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How to Sell Your Car

Published on Jan 29, 2021 | Last updated Jan 29, 2021 8 minute read

How to Sell Your Car

If you're looking to sell a car, you may not know where to start. Selling a pre-owned vehicle can be an intimidating task. Whether you are looking to sell your vehicle to a private party or through a dealership, there are many tasks sellers will have. From paperwork, negotiation, research and even advertising, we’ll break it down for you.

A huge amount of the hassle involved in selling your car can become remarkably simple if you know what to do. In this article, we’ll share some useful tips and advice on selling your vehicle.

Prepare all the necessary paperwork

Before you price and sell your car, you’ll have to gather all the necessary legal documents first. Keep in mind that provincial guidelines may vary, so not all provinces will require all the documents included below. Depending on where you live, there may be additional paperwork required. Be sure to check your provincial requirements ahead of time. Here are some documents you might need:

  • A standard bill of sale is required in a private sale to transfer ownership of a vehicle to a new owner. This will include information on the buyer, seller and the vehicle. Depending on your province, provincial websites may have more details on the mandatory information that must be included.
  • Businesses will use a comprehensive bill of sale. It provides information about the vehicle and sales agreement. It also protects buyers from any potential unexpected and unauthorized costs.
  • A used vehicle information package or an independent vehicle history report is legally required in some provinces. This contains a description of the vehicle and its history. As the seller, you may need to provide this package to the buyer of your used vehicle.
  • As the seller, you may need to fill out a Transfer of Ownership Document (TOD) with the buyer. This proves that you own the car. You may also need to be in attendance when the buyer registers the vehicle.
  • You may also need a written bill of sale. This document describes your vehicle, includes the VIN number, and the selling price. We recommend you draft two, one for you as the seller and the other for the buyer. You should both sign each of the copies.
  • Next, a valid Certificate of Inspection (COI) may be required to inform the buyer that the vehicle has been inspected and is ready to register and insure.

Please note that buyers are going to want to see and know everything about your car before they consider purchasing it. It’s best to be as transparent as possible when going through this process.

Give your car a makeover

When selling your vehicle, it’s important to attract a buyer in order to make a sale. By making sure your car looks its best, you’re that much closer. Cracked windshields, wrappers and dirt may result in potential buyers going elsewhere. Clean cars lead to better offers, so here are some tips on how you can prepare it for sale:

  • Give the exterior a good wash and wax
  • Vacuum the floor, interior and seats
  • Clear out all personal items and empty the trunk
  • Clean the rims and tires
  • Fix any other small issues
  • Refill fluid levels
  • Put in a car freshener

If your budget allows, it's best to have a good car detailing done that will make it look, smell, and feel as good as new. The price of that is anywhere between $100 and $300. Once your vehicle is fully made over, it’s time to check out the marketplace and price your car. You’ll want to review the competition for reference.

Advertise your car

When you are looking to sell your vehicle through a private sale, advertising is one of the most important parts because it enters you into the market. You should set an asking price that’s a little higher than your car’s current market value. This will leave you some room to negotiate and finalize the price.

There are plenty of free ways to let buyers know your car is on the market. It could be on:

  • Social media
  • Car trading sites
  • Online selling platforms

There are so many choices to choose from when someone wants to buy a car, so you’ll need to stand out from the crowd in the online marketplace. If selling privately, then dedicating time to create an advert that draws buyers in will be beneficial. Here are some tips on how to effectively advertise your car:

  • Take good pictures on a clear day
  • Provide a detailed description that includes key points of information
  • Ask for referrals
  • Seek help from people

Buying a pre-owned car? Here’s a checklist of a few considerations to make before buying:

  • Ask questions and do research on the vehicle history. There are many websites that will allow you to run the VIN number to see if there have been accidents with the vehicle, any recalls, and other details that are beneficial to know. However, some sellers may be reluctant to provide a VIN number due to recent spikes in fraudulently registering stolen vehicles. Trust your gut! If something feels off or if the seller/buyer doesn’t seem reliable, there are other options out there.
  • Walk around the vehicle and do your own inspection. Look for rust spots, paint chips, cracks, and frame issues. Small things here and there can be easily fixed, but areas where metal is completely rusted through may be a deal breaker. Take a peak to see if anything is hanging underneath and that the car is sitting level. As well, open the hood to inspect the engine and see if there is any corrosion or leaks.
  • Test the interior electronics and determine whether or not the kilometres are too high for your liking. There are websites that will help you determine what is considered high or low based on the vehicle’s age and type.

Prepare to meet with buyers

As soon as your vehicle is advertised, you should always be ready for inquires, questions and interested people. Be prepared to become inundated with calls, texts and emails from potential buyers.

Once responses begin pouring in, you’ll want to screen buyers and select ones that mean business. This means that you’ll also have to think through ways to protect yourself from fraud, theft or physical harm. Here are some ways you can tell the difference between serious and fictitious buyers:

  • Get them on the phone
  • Ask for their details including full name and location
  • Agree on acceptable forms of payment
  • Sell in an area you’re comfortable with

When doing meet ups, expect that the buyer will want to do a car inspection or even test drive it.

Negotiate and seal the deal

Like we mentioned above, setting an asking price that’s a little higher than your vehicle’s current market value will give you room to negotiate. You should always have a lowest acceptable price in mind. If the buyer isn’t prepared to match your number, you can back out.

After the negotiations are done and a price is agreed upon by both parties, it’s time to finalize any paperwork and exchange the keys for cash.

Here are some things you’ll need to do before handing over the keys:

  • Remove any insurance or documents under your name from the vehicle
  • Remove your license plate and unregister your vehicle so it’s no longer under your name
  • And of course, follow your provincial guidelines on the necessary paperwork required to complete the transaction

Get the right insurance for your car

Before you sell or acquire a new vehicle, make sure your insurance is updated accordingly. If you have successfully sold your car and are planning to buy another car, this is a great time to take a fresh look at your car insurance needs. As a brokerage, we’ll shop around for the best rates based on your unique circumstances.

At BrokerLink, consulting one of our licensed experts is a great way to have an insurance expert in your corner. We’ll make sure you have the best coverage at the best price. Call us today for a free no-obligation quote!

Get an online auto quote

How to sell your car FAQs

What is the best site to sell a car in Canada?

There are so many sites to advertise and sell your pre-owned vehicle on, but here are a few that are popular: AutoTrader.ca, CarCostCanada.com, Wheels.ca, and Kijiji.ca. While there are an endless supply of sites out there, some have fees associated with them. It’s recommended to look into each site to find the best fit for you. It’s important that you feel comfortable and safe as you navigate this process!

How many years should I keep a car before I sell it at a good price?

If you want the best value for your car, your car should be no more than five years old when you decide to sell it. We know that car owners lose money as soon as you drive off the parking lot, so when selling your vehicle, a lot of factors play a role. Be sure to do your research on similar vehicles when determining the price you want to sell yours for.

When selling a car, are kilometers more important than age?

Kilometers tend to be more important than the age when people are looking for everyday driving vehicles. Cars with low kilometres are sought after by buyers, and that does factor into cost.