CarGurus.com, eBay Motors, Cars.com, Autotrader, and Hemmings are all great options for selling your car online. But be aware that when it comes to selling a car online, the options are bountiful but not created equally. Online sales of vehicles are no longer the exception to the rule, as consumers move from in-person shopping to doing their car shopping from the comfort of their couch. If you're looking to sell your car, failing to explore your online options tremendously limits your target market.
Offering your car for sale online brings many eyes to your ad and raises the chances that you'll get your asking price. It can also attract car buyers from far outside your region that you would have never been reached with a conventional print ad or For Sale sign in the car's window. In addition, some sites have international followings for enthusiasts who may have been searching long and hard for a car just like yours. Here are some of the best sites to sell a car or get the best price for yours.
CarGurus.com is one of the best websites to list your used vehicle for sale and reach out to genuine buyers ready to make actual offers.
The process of using CarGurus.com is simple.Create your listing, add pics, specs of your vehicle, and briefly describe your car, truck, SUV, van, or other vehicles. And provide any existing warranty information and vehicle identification number (VIN) so that potential buyers can obtain a vehicle history report.
CarGurus.com stands out from the pack because it offers a verification process, so when someone contacts you with an offer, you know that it is from a real person.
Once you find a potential buyer, you can easily negotiate with an on-site messaging inbox—all in real-time. And CarGurus.com lets you get paid easily by acting as a go-between with you and your buy. That keeps your banking information secure. Once the sale is over, then you can get the proceeds sent straight to your account. The service charges $4.95 per vehicle as a listing fee, including CarGurus Pay for receiving your payment.
One of the earliest online car selling sites, eBay is one of the top places to sell cars as it boasts over 160 million buyers.
You have two options when selling a car on eBay: a fixed-price listing or an auction. It's free to list your vehicle on eBay initially, but the site charges a fee based on the sale price when it sells. With a fixed-price listing, you sell your used car similarly to any other classified ad. But, first, post an asking price, and then a button for "Make Offer" is available to buyers if they want to haggle with a lower price.
If you decide to use the auction feature, then you'll have buyers bidding on your car. That can be a good way to sell classic cars or get more than the asking price. To reduce the risk that you won't get your bottom line, make sure to set a "Buy It Now" price for an instant cash offer and a secret reserve price, which is the minimum that you'll accept (and is not displayed for anyone to see). It does require an additional fee, however. eBay has a slight edge over Craigslist in that it's not entirely anonymous, and the entire transaction can be completed over the website.
Traditional, paid listings are another way to sell a car online without dealing with the unpredictability of auctions. Cars.com and Autotrader are two of the leaders in this area.
Cars.com ranks highly as it has one of the quickest ways to get a used car price estimate. After entering seven items on the main page, you will get an instant price range for selling via private party and dealer retail. You can then pick from the following three options: dealer appraisal, quick offer, and ad placement.
If you choose dealer appraisal, you can set up in-person meetings for as many as three dealers at one time for no charge. Using your selling ad, you can expect to reach around 13 million car shoppers each month. Pay $49 for your listing to include a Carfax report on your listing. It's a good way to lure in buyers who aren't using the service.
Some local newspapers participate with Cars.com. Then you can have an ad placed there in addition to your online listing. They also offer a free trial for 30 days, which is a good deal considering they claim the average car will sell in less than four days.
Autotrader is one of the longest-running ways to sell and buy a car. Before online car sales became popular, they sold a newsprint magazine full of car ads. It was generally considered the best way to see many cars for sale versus the newspaper.
Similarly, the Autotrader website has now combined the best features of the print magazine with everything you need to sell your car. They charge ad fees ranging from $25 for a basic one-month package to a premium package for $100 that keeps your ad on until it sells. If you don't like the idea of dealing with a potential buyer, then Autotrader can also take over this aspect of the process.
The VIP Service will do all the work to sell a car, including giving you an unknown phone number. If you want to sell your car to a dealer, they will allow you to get a cash offer from any of their participating dealers. Another perk is that your Autotrader ad will also appear on Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com), which brings in more potential buyers. Autotrader's long history does mean that it tends to bring in more serious buyers and fewer scammers.
Hemmings is a storied name for classic car fans with print publications and memorabilia from various brands and historic automotive events. However, with the prominence of online sales, the company has shifted resources to its website.
It has an extensive database of listings and auctions with cars from Acura to Zastava. Those with some car parts or other artifacts to offload can also find a following on the site. Listings run from $99 for an auction to $190 for a listing in the print magazine and a spot online. Vehicles are subject to submission and acceptance by the Hemmings team before they go live.
But for those trying to sell something rare or an unusual piece of automotive history, Hemmings is one of the best car websites with a devoted following that could land your vehicle a happy new owner.
Online-only sales have become more common since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020. While new car dealers are coming to terms with the logistics of this new reality, sites such as Carvana and Vroom were ahead of the curve, offering at-home delivery from their vast national fleet of used cars and a sales process done entirely online.
But these sites also allow customers to sell their car to the company using a similarly contactless process. Go to their sites to put in the vehicle's information — make, model, color, mileage, VIN, license plate number — and it comes back with an offer. Should you choose to accept it, a representative and a truck will come to pick up the vehicle, and payment will be issued within days.
The disadvantage is that there is no wiggle room in the offer. But the upside is that it's as hassle-free as selling a car can be right now, especially without having to deal face-to-face with a dealer.
Free online classifieds
Many online sites may offer greater reach to prospective buyers for a used car, but they require as much as $200 for the listing. Another way to get some reach on the internet is a free listing on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace sites.
Craigslist has been the source of all kinds of classified listings for the better part of three decades now. The automotive section is enormous to the point where enthusiasts and those in need of an inexpensive used car likely have it bookmarked. As a result, there are plenty of options when you post your ad, including a sizable amount of pictures.
But the most significant caveat with Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace is that these platforms can be rife with scams. So it's essential to be aware of the techniques that scammers use and make sure that your ad is full of information about the car, which will be more likely to attract legitimately interested buyers instead of scammers.
The most common scam of fake buyers is to contact a seller and say that they will pay full price for a car, but the seller needs to ship it to them. They then say that they will send a cashier's check to cover both. Avoid scammers that always deal in cash, never agree to strange requests, and don't respond to contacts that sound dubious. When you meet someone for a test drive via Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, it's a good idea to look at their driver's license first and also to meet in a safe, neutral area.
But then there are hurdles for any time of online platform for selling a car. Even with the need for increased distancing, there are ways to give and receive as much information as possible about the sale. Pictures and detail also sell cars, so remember to provide as much information as possible upfront to avoid as many back-and-forth messages as possible. And make sure to research pricing.
Car buying is a stressful enough process, and buyers will often skip over cars that are too ambitiously priced compared to similar models or become immediately suspect if it's far below market value. Of course, as a private seller, you want top dollar for your old car, but it's worth doing some research to make sure you don't look too motivated or too out of touch.
Know Your Vehicle's Worth
No matter whether you sell your car online or offline or even use it as a trade-in at a dealership, you invariably want to get as much as you possibly can and as close to the actual value of your car from its sale. That makes it doubly important to know what a used car is worth, with sites such as Autolist, Edmunds, and KBB or companies such as Carmax, giving some reference point.