I sold my car! I’d been threatening to do so for more than a year now. But due in part to procrastination/ laziness, but more to sheer lack of knowledge around the bureaucracy involved in selling a car, I just never go around to it…until now.

In the end it didn’t take very long, but there were several headaches along the way.

I started by getting the car sale-ready, and that meant a trip to the garage. Aside from an oil change, my main concern was that the A/C needed repair. It had been blowing hot air all summer. Now, I had the A/C fixed in 2006 for $500, so I was expecting roughly the same price. I was shocked to learn that they wanted $1,600 for the repair! Thankfully, when I told the mechanic I was selling, he advised me not to fix it; that I would never make that money back in the sale. He said there was another option he could try – a kind of patch – but he warned there was no guarantee it would work, or how long it would last even if it did. But it only cost $300, so I tried it, and the A/C was working again.

I also had them perform a safety inspection and an emissions test – both required when selling a car in Ontario. Step one down – The car was mechanically ready to sell.

Step two was to get a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation – another item required to sell your car. It only costs $20, but I swear, the bureaucracy around car ownership is just a silly excuse to grab more money from people.

Step three was to beautify the car, and I spent a couple of evenings cleaning it – shampooing carpets, washing the outside, polishing the interior, cleaning the windows. I also got my maintenance logbook in order and then, on Saturday morning, I listed it on two free classified ad websites: Kijiji and UsedOttawa. I was now finally well and truly into step four – the actual selling.

I had no idea how long it would take, but I actually started getting calls almost immediately. I had a couple of inquiries that first day, but it wasn’t until Sunday that I heard from the eventual buyers. On Sunday afternoon they asked me to send them some extra photos of the car. I did so and on Monday they called to see the car. We agreed to meet on Tuesday after work. My first showing!

Step five was the test drive. The prospective buyers were an Asian couple, and I was glad that Junkii came with me for the test drive. They were recent emigrants from Shanghai and while their English was okay, their Mandarin was better, and Junkii’s language skills were a big help. Very nice people though, and they really liked the car. We went out for about 15 minutes, and I was able to talk to them about the car’s features. Unfortunately, during that test drive, the AC decided to conk out – the first real headache. What luck! But I was sort of up front with them about it. After all, I wouldn’t feel right about telling such a blatant lie. I told them the A/C was clearly broken, but I certainly didn’t tell them about the $1,600 quote. I simply offered to drop $500 from the asking price, showing them proof that I had paid a similar amount in 2006 to fix the A/C. Let this be a lesson to you to keep a complete maintenance log.

They seemed happy with the offer, and we agreed on a price. And I thought, “GREAT! Now all I need to do is get the money and go transfer the ownership.” Not so fast. They wanted to register the car in Quebec. (Headache number two). I had done all this research on the rules for selling a car in Ontario, and here I was at square one again: I knew nothing about the rules in Quebec. So I spent Wednesday doing research and found out that I needed another inspection on the QC side. Of course the Safety inspection and emissions tests I did in Ontario were unacceptable. Thankfully, the buyer agreed to pay for the Quebec inspection, so off I went on Thursday morning to the garage. And wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t pass my car! Bastards! I needed new rotors. Headache number three.

A quick trip to my garage and I found out a cheap set of rotors would cost $200, all in. Yay, more costs! The buyer agreed to pay half that, so by end of day Thursday, I had new rotors, and a successful follow up inspection in Quebec. After a few detours I was finally on to the last step – get money and transfer ownership – but not without a few more headaches.

I wanted to do this last step early in the morning to avoid missing work. So I found a Quebec licensing office that opened at 8:30 and, on Friday morning, I picked up the buyers at 8am. They still needed to go to the bank! So we had to wait for the bank to open at 9am. Headache number four. It’s a good thing I’m patient, and that my employer is flexible.

They paid me my bank draft and off we went to the licensing office. Of course by 9:30, when we arrived, the line-up was out the door; the fifth and final headache. So there we sat for more than an hour, waiting our turn. I can tell you I was tired of making small talk with them, and I’m sure they felt the same. We finished up around 10:45, exchanged car plates, then I drove us all back to my office and I left them with their new car. I marched over to the bank and deposited my newfound riches.

Boy, I’m glad that’s over with. I grant that, all told, it really didn’t take very long – less than a week – but there were a lot of steps involved, and I’m running low on Tylenol. Still, it was a good learning experience, and now I know how to sell a car in Ontario and Quebec.

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7 responses »

  1. margotinto says:

    Now you can put a price tag on the two solitudes. But congrats on your fortitude thru this process – it literally paid off. It's a great skill/knowledge set, altho I can't see you as a natural-born car salesman 🙂

  2. yeah, I'm too much of a softy. I don't know how to drive a hard bargain.

  3. Good for you….too much of a headache for me though….I usually trade in my cars for a new one- so I usually let the dealership have that headache- of course, you dont get near the cash that way- so good for you Rockr!

  4. I credit Junkii with pushing me to sell privately. I'm a path-of-least-resistance kind of guy, so it was definitely a challenge for him to keep me convinced. It paid off in the end though.

  5. Alexa says:

    After I tried to sell my car privately with no luck we gave up and used a car wholesaler http://www.sellmycar.ca , they bough my old Subaru in spot and handle me a certified cheque. Great article, thanks

  6. mike says:

    As a mechanic for 8 years I can tell you that you got ripped off on the A/c and rotors. For $500 I can get complete a/c system including condenser installed in a car that does not even have A/C from factory. They laughed all the way to the bank with the so called patch story. It costed them less than $5 dollars and you paid $300.

    • RoC(k)r says:

      As a mechanic, you have the option to do it yourself. Lucky you. I have to rely on a trusted garage. I use CAA to guide my choice of mechanics, but I’m still vulnerable to any unscrupulous business owners out there. Luckily, I didn’t pay for the A/C repair that time.

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