Car Selling Tips

Shopping Guide: How to Sell Your Old Car with Minimum Fuss and Maximum Value

So you’ve found yourself a new car and it’s time for your beloved jalopy to move on to a new family. What now?

You can trade it in, especially if you’re in the market for a brand-new car, or you can choose to list if on and sell if privately. The question, private sale or trade-it in is a common one, and there are pros and cons to each.

Should I trade my car in or sell privately?

While sometimes private sales net higher prices than trade-ins, there are a few other factors not always taken into account.

For example, a trade-in might give you a tax benefit over selling privately, as the amount of HST you pay can be calculated on the purchase price minus trade-in.

That means if you get $10,000 for your car on trade-in and buy a $40,000 car you would only pay HST on $30,000. So you’d need to get $11,300 at private sale to “equal” your trade in Ontario (with 13% HST).

It can also be more convenient to trade your vehicle in because you can do the entire transaction in one hit, the dealer handles all the paperwork and you can simply drive in, and drive out in your new ride. For some, the concept of transacting quickly and easily is enough to sway them to trade in.

Of course, if you’re buying your car privately, a trade-in becomes less exciting, as the benefits of convenience and HST savings are negated. So if you’re buying privately, selling privately is possibly a better option.

Regardless of how you choose to send off your old ride there are some things you’ll still need to do.

How do I tell what my car is worth?

Because no two used vehicles are exactly alike it can be tricky to understand exactly what your car is worth. Especially if it’s one your family has had for a long time, or one you’ve become personally attached to. But try not to take this personally. While loving your car can often mean you’ve cared for it well and helped retain a good value, the fact you named your car “Bertha” won’t impact the value.

What will impact value are things like options and colour, age, mileage, condition, time of year, drivability, accident history, condition of wear items such as tires, and general market demand/supply for the make and model you have to sell.

Online tools like the Price My Car calculator can help you understand a fair range for your car, but it’s important to also do your research. Look online for listings in your area to see what the market seems to be saying. Give an honest self-assessment of your car’s condition when comparing it.

Having that knowledge will arm you when it comes to negotiate a sale or trade-in value with your dealer or private buyer.

How do I get maximum price for my car?

If you are trading in your vehicle, make sure you take it to the dealership along with any information that can help the dealer better assess its value. This includes all of your ownership and warranty information, maintenance paperwork, Used Vehicle Information Package or any other documents that speak to your car’s history.

Getting good resale value starts from day one of ownership. Having your car properly maintained and serviced throughout its life will pay dividends at the end of your relationship. But even if your ride isn’t in A1 condition when it’s time to sell, you might be able to help.

Take a moment to go over your car and work out what can be fixed and what you can do to increase your car’s value.

Wash your car. A clean car is a sign of a well-maintained car, and it can also help you spot problems or marks you can easily repair.

Any small scratches, scuffs and even some dents can be easily repaired for little money. Loose trim, clogged air vents and the rest can all be fixed in minutes with little more than a screwdriver.

Making sure you present your car in the best possible light will help you extract its maximum value.

What forms do I need?

So you’ve made your decision on how to sell your car, and now you want to know what you need. This is where things get complicated, and the province you’re in can affect what you need to do next.

At the very least, you will need your car’s ownership and in many places, some sort of Used-Vehicle Information Package from your local Department of Transport.

We detail the requirements in our guide to Buying and Selling a car in Canada.