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Used Car Selling Guide: All You Need to Know About Selling a Used Vehicle

How to sell your used vehicle

If you're looking to sell your used car, you may not know where to start. We can help make sure you’re set up for a quick and easy sale while getting the best price. Here are the steps you should to take when selling a used car:

  • Decide if you want to trade it in or sell your car privately
  • Find out your vehicle's worth
  • Get your vehicle ready for sale
  • List your vehicle for sale
  • Know what questions to expect from a buyer
  • Negotiate price
  • Finalize the sale

Keep reading below for a more detailed look into each step in the used car selling process.

Should I trade in my car or sell it privately?

Trading in your car at a dealership is an easy sale, but you might not get as much money for the car as you would if you sold it privately. When a dealer buys your car, their offer will account for the money it will cost them to recondition the car so they can sell it and make a profit. Any little scratch, dent or upholstery stain will need to be fixed, and the cost of that repair will likely impact the trade-in value and be deducted from your offer. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about having these repairs done yourself – it’ll all be taken care of for you.

While you may sell your car at a higher price by doing it privately, in some provinces there are significant tax savings to be made by trading it in to a dealer. Check out the regulations in your province to find out if the savings alone make it worthwhile to trade in the vehicle.

When you sell a vehicle privately, it is your responsibility to market the car, comply with any provincial requirements and negotiate with buyers. It will take longer and require more effort, but sometimes the increased profits are worth it – a decision that every used car seller must make.

What’s my car worth?

Setting a competitive asking price is key to selling your car quickly for the best amount possible – price it too high and shoppers will scroll on by, but price it too low and you may not get as much as it’s worth. The CARFAX Canada Value Range tool considers what similar cars have actually sold for in your area, and then provides you with the average price that they were purchased at.

Find your Value Range.

With a Value Range you get an idea of what vehicles in your area had been valued at, but your vehicle’s history can be a major factor in how much you can sell it for. When you purchase our Vehicle History Report you also get a History-Based Value report at no additional cost. This value takes the history, location, and many other factors into account and provides you with a value that is completely unique to the vehicle based on its past. It also shows you what the value would be if you trade-in your vehicle or if you sell it privately.

What can impact my used car value?

The value of a car depends on factors including its history, mileage and condition. Accident history impacts auto value, so make sure you’re aware of everything that’s happened in the vehicle’s lifetime, and be transparent about that information with the buyer. Did you know 61% of buyers are open to a car that’s been in an accident? Being upfront with the information will help you build trust with the buyer, and give them the tools they need to make sure any damage has been properly repaired. A CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report is designed to build this transparency and can help you back up the information you’ve provided.

When looking to sell your car, keep in mind these factors, they can also impact the value of a vehicle:

  • Colour
  • If it was smoked in
  • Number of previous owners
  • Service history
  • Extended warranties
  • After-market features
  • Extras like winter tires
  • Recent replacement of brakes, battery etc.

How do I get a car ready for sale?

If you decide to sell your car privately you’ll have to attract buyers to make a sale. Make sure your vehicle looks its best in your online listings by giving it a good wash and taking great photos that emphasize its best features. Wait for a clear, sunny day and make sure you snap those pictures in a clean, well-lit environment. Have the vehicle detailed and clean out any stuff you have laying around – no one wants to smell your hockey equipment or last week’s Tupperware when they open your trunk before the test drive.

How do I list a used car for sale online?

Most Canadians start their used car search online. In fact, Canadian car shoppers spend 63% of their vehicle research time online, and 42% of them visit a listing site first (Source: Into the Minds of Consumers).

By posting your vehicle on popular listing sites like AutoTRADER, Kijiji or, you’re putting yourself in front of potential buyers. Set your vehicle apart from the rest with a clear, concise ad that includes great photos and a CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report (VHR). 81% of online VHR-viewers will disqualify a vehicle with no vehicle history report attached to the listing, so keep yourself in the running by making sure your ad contains all the information a buyer is looking for.

What questions should I expect from a used car buyer?

It’s important to prepare yourself for the questions used car buyers might ask. Potential buyers will want to know why you’re selling the car, its condition and odometer readings and any issues you’ve experienced with it. Be prepared to provide the VIN, odometer reading and a vehicle history report. A serious buyer will want to take a test drive and get an independent car inspection as well.

Full list of questions used car buyers will ask.

How do I negotiate the sale of a used car?

The first way to reduce price negotiations on a vehicle is to set an accurate price from the beginning. Then, keep your documentation in order – be prepared with all the information you need to prove the value of your car. That way, if the buyer expresses any concern about the vehicle’s service history, odometer reading, recall or registration status or damage history, you have the CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report and the service records to prove the vehicle is worth the price that you’re asking.

Download our guide on negotiating a used car sale.

What type of payment should I accept for my used car?

Cash and bank drafts that are delivered in person are the best and most secure forms of payment to accept when privately selling your used car. Avoid personal cheques or wire transfers as these are more susceptible to fraud.

More tips on avoiding used car fraud.

How do I finalize a private used car sale?

You’ve found a buyer that’s agreed to buy your used car. Now you’re ready to hand over the keys but before you do, you need to officially finalize the sale. Each Canadian province has different regulations when it comes to transferring ownership. Be prepared with the required documents such as a used vehicle information package (UVIP), safety standard certificate, bill of sale, emissions / Drive Clean test, transfer/tax form, etc. Depending on where you live, the requirements are different, so we’ve compiled the steps and information that you need to know, as well as provided links to the appropriate websites. When in doubt, it’s always best to contact your provincial government to make sure you and the buyer have covered your bases.

Learn to finalize a private used car sale in your province.