How do I get rid of a used car in Toronto, Ontario?
March 21, 2013 8:33 AM   Subscribe

I am contemplating getting rid of my car, as it is expensive to insure and there is car sharing available in my building, and I mostly use public transit these days anyway. But I don't really know how to actually do that.

It's a 2001 Honda Civic Sedan, with some moderate body damage (a dent in the passenger side door) and the usual assortment of minor nicks and scrapes a 12 year old can be expected to have. It is also overdue for a timing belt change, but I'm hard-pressed to want to do a $1000 service to a car that's probably not worth much more than that.

A possible complicating factor is that I don't know if I actually have the title to the car. Some things I've read suggest that Honda would have kept it until I paid off the car and then mailed it to me. Other things have suggested that there is no title separate from the green and white papers I've been thinking of as 'the registration'. If there is a different title document, how can I get one? If it exists it's likely that Honda mailed it to the wrong address 8 years ago, since they had my addresses super screwed up (buying a car the day before you move confuses people).

So, what are my options for getting rid of this thing? Would a Honda dealer just buy it outright rather than take it in trade? Or some other dealer? Can you recommend a specific place in Toronto? How pain-in-the-assy is selling it as a private sale, and if I go that route, what's the usual protocol for test drives, not getting scammed, etc?

If the car has some residual value, I'd like to realize that value, but I'm not necessarily looking to make the most money possible if there's a lower hassle way to get this done. The main reason I even still have a car is that the whole thought of dealing with this just ramps my social anxiety up to about an 11, and I don't want to think about it at all. But I also don't want to keep paying $130 a month to insure a car that I drive so little that I don't even put gas in it once a month. I occasionally daydream about ways to crack it into a tree without hurting myself so my insurance company will just write it off, if that gives you any indication of how much I don't want to deal with this. (Dear Insurance Company: I wouldn't actually do that. I know it's both dangerous and illegal. Love, Me.)
posted by jacquilynne to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your DMV equivalent should be able to provide you with a replacement title. After that, you post it on craigslist. Car dealers are probably not going to want it. You can also donate it to a charity.

Go with anyone who wants to test drive. Take cash only. Register the change in ownership immediately.
posted by shoesietart at 8:41 AM on March 21, 2013

But I also don't want to keep paying $130 a month to insure a car that I drive so little that I don't even put gas in it once a month.

Just FYI: I had a car that I needed to sell but for an assortment of reasons we couldn't sell right away. We called the insurance company and they were able to put us on a different insurance plan that basically kept it insured in case of a tree hitting it or vandalism, but it was not insured to actually drive. If you think it's going to take you a little time to sort out what to do with the car, a good intermediate step might be to see if your insurance can offer you something along the same lines. Just call them.
posted by anastasiav at 8:51 AM on March 21, 2013

How have you been paying for the license stickers? If the MTO has been mailing to your address, you are likely the legal owner in their eyes. Do you have the green registration card? That's proof of ownership.

For a private sale, and perhaps for your own peace of mind, you'll want to get the MTO Used Vehicle Information Package. For $20, it gives all the ownership details, and could confirm to you that you are indeed the legal owner.

For private sales, we just recently sold a car through Kajiji, and that was pleasantly painless. We were warned off of using Autotrader (which was previously my goto site for used cars)---it's a wasteland of shady dealers and scammers, it seems.

Here's how I did it:
1. Wash, clean, prep the car. Cheap and adds a significant amount to what you'll get for the car.

2. Pre-safety: This can be a bit tricky. I took the car to my mechanic and asked him to tell me if anything needed to be done to pass the MTO safety check. His deal with me was that he would check the car, but not write up the paper work until we had a serious buyer. Safteys in Ontario are only good for 30 days. I didn't want to have to pay for one twice.

3. Paper work done: the UVIP from the province, and a report from CarFax. The CarFax report is perhaps overkill in your case (and it's ~$35), but it assures buyers that you own free and clear, and details liens, accident-reporting and out-of-province transfers (a common tactic for low-quality vehicles by shady dealers, apparently).

4. Pictures: all angles + interior. Kajiji lets you have up to 10.

5. Post on the classified site. The basic listing is free, but I paid ~$25 to bump it up to the top of the "featured" results.

6. Deal with possible buyers: a few not so serious folks and flakes, but we had a couple of solid leads within 72 hrs and a buyer in 4 days.

7. Meet/Test-drive with buyers. When we had someone committed to buying, I asked for 10% of the value down, with the rest to come by bank draft in a couple of days. Wrote them a receipt for the payment.

8. Got the emissions check done (not necessary if yours is current, mine was almost up) and took the car back to the garage for a final once over and the safety paperwork.

9. Concluded the deal with the buyer. The UVIP from the province works as a bill of sale. We had two copies, one for them, one for us.

10. They went to an MTO office with the package and the signed-over registration green card and got new plates. We swapped plates and they drove their car away. This step is important---you don't want someone driving on your old plates.

It was a bit of work, but pretty painless. We had a great buyer though. I would recommend using Kajiji if you go the private route. Lots of interest, a quick sale, and a decent website.
posted by bonehead at 8:57 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're not too concerned with realizing the full resale value, there's always the donation-to-charity route, which has the advantage that you don't have to deal with selling it. See, for example, The Asthma Society or the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (Both seem to use independent car resellers/scrappers rather than dealing with the cars themselves, but I have to assume that the charities wouldn't be linking to them if they weren't legit.) Plus, you'll still get 15% of the resale value back as a tax credit when you file your T1 next spring.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:02 AM on March 21, 2013

A couple of costs I missed: the safety (required) was $90 at the garage I deal with. The Drive Clean emissions test was ~$40, but, as I say above, if you've got a current one, you don't need to do this.
posted by bonehead at 10:28 AM on March 21, 2013

Just as an fyi, I recently went through the process of buying a cheap used car and a 2001 Honda is probably worth significantly more than $1000 even with some body damage. maybe the market is different where you are, but there were practically no sub-$3k running Hondas on the private seller market in the eastern half of the us.
posted by geegollygosh at 1:31 PM on March 21, 2013

I'm not necessarily looking to make the most money possible if there's a lower hassle way to get this done.

We recently sold a car and like you, we put a high value on "low hassle." (We did try Craigslist for a month and got nothing but a couple of scam calls.) Then we took it to AuctionDirect and it could not have been easier. Drove in, waited about an hour while the mechanic inspected the car, they made us an offer that was way better than, we said "done" and had a check in hand the next day. But AuctionDirect's closest location to you is Buffalo, sort of a long drive unless you're sure you'll take whatever they offer. And the cross-border thing might be an issue. I'd call first.

Looking for something similar in Toronto, a web search brings me to these guys. They say bring your car in to one of their six greater-Toronto-area locations, get a free appraisal, sell it to them if you want. If you don't like what they offer, you walk away.

I believe you're definitely going to need the official title, though.
posted by evilmomlady at 2:43 PM on March 21, 2013

The used car market, at least in the United States, is in very good to sellers: many people cannot afford or get credit for new cars, and high oil prices combined with the fact that many older cars are gas guzzlers have driven up the prices of efficient, reliable cars like Civics.

It looks like 2001 Civics start at $2500 on Toronto Craigslist. A car in good condition will probably be worth significantly more: getting your timing belt changed and your car detailed potentially could net your $100/hr. or more.
posted by akgerber at 3:46 PM on March 21, 2013

Thanks for the answers so far.

Based on bonehead's info, it sounds like the registration and the title are one and the same document, so I do have the full title which is good news.

I asked for a bid from one of the charitable donation places, to see what the tax receipt would be, but a tax receipt (so I'd get maybe 30% back) for $120 seems kind of stupid and pointless. For that little money, I'd just list it on Freecycle and sign it over to the first person who asked.

The Leggat auto-guys that evilmomlady linked to is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for (I had in my head those CarMax places in the US, but they don't exist here) but on another page, they indicate that they may only buy model year 2005 and newer, and my car is older than that. But I have bookmarked them as a place to try for a quote. If there are any other 'we buy used cars' type places in Toronto, I'd really appreciate hearing about them.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:33 AM on March 22, 2013

As a reference point, the basic, no-questions-asked, will-be-sold-for-scrap, trade-in value most dealerships will do is $400 to $500. Scrapyards will do pick-ups for about half that, depending if the car can be driven or not. That Make-a-wish number seems rather stingy to me.
posted by bonehead at 10:56 AM on March 22, 2013

I'm just trying to sell a used car on Kijiji as well, but it's taking way longer than I expected to find a buyer for my 99 Rav4. This article might be of interest to you, as it was for me.
posted by Flashman at 2:26 PM on March 22, 2013

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