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What Is The Best Place to Sell a Car Online?

By Autolist Staff | April 15, 2019

When it comes to unloading a used car, you primarily have three options. You can either sell it to a private party, sell it to a dealership or use it as a trade-in for a new car. Both of the latter options are unlikely to get you much for your vehicle, and especially if your car is very old and has a lot of miles. These days you have a range of options when it comes to selling your vehicle privately, thanks to all the online car sites like cars.com and eBay among others. These sites bring a lot of eyes to your ad and raise the chances that you'll get your asking price. So, where is the best place to sell a car online? Consider the following five as some of the top sites to sell your car online.

1. eBay Motors

eBay is one of the top places to sell cars online, and for good reason as it boasts over 160 million buyers. You have two options when selling a vehicle on eBay. The first is a fixed-price listing and the second is via auctions. It's free to list your car on eBay initially, but when it sells, eBay charges a fee based on the sale price. With a fixed-price listing, you sell your used car similarly to any other classified ad. Post your 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. It can be a good way to sell classic cars or to possibly get more than your asking price. To reduce the risk that you won't get your bottom line, make sure to set a 'Buy It Now' price and an undisplayed reserve price, which is the minimum that you'll accept. It does require an additional fee, however. eBay has a slight edge over Craigslist in that it's not entirely as anonymous and the entire transaction can be completed over the website.

2. Craigslist

Probably the second most popular place for car selling is Craiglist. It's free, and it offers a massive platform to get eyes on your ad. It also tends to be the first place people check when they're looking locally for a used car. You have plenty of options when you post your ad, including a sizable amount of pictures. The most significant caveat with Craiglist, because it has traditionally been a free-for-all, is that it can be rife with scams. In April 2019, the site announced it would begin charging $5 for used car ads, to curb spam. But it's still important to be aware of the techniques that scammers use and also to 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 on Craigslist is to contact a seller and say that they will pay full price for a car, but that the seller needs to ship it to them. They then say that they will send a check to cover both. The main ways to avoid scammers are to deal in cash, never agree to strange requests, and don't respond to dubious contacts. When you meet someone for a test drive via Craigslist, it's a good idea to look at their driver's license first and also to meet in a safe, neutral area.

3. Cars.com

Cars.com ranks highly as it has one of the quickest ways to get a used car price estimate. Upon entering seven items on the main page, you will get an instant price range for selling via private party and also dealer retail. You can then pick from the following three options: dealer appraisal, quick offer and placing an ad. If you choose dealer appraisal, you can set up in-person meetings for as many as three dealers at one time for no charge. If you use your own selling ad, then you can expect to reach around 13 million car shoppers each month. If you pay $49 for your listing, then you can include a CARFAX report on your listing, which is a good way to lure in buyers who aren't using the service. If your hometown paper participates 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.

4. CarGurus

CarGurus has several great tools for sellers, including price analysis, instant market value, and a dealer trade-in estimate. These allows you to see whether your listing will show up as a good deal, fair deal, high price or a bad deal. Although dealers use this site extensively, they don't charge you as a private seller to list your car. You can also look at the vehicles selling in your area and which ones they list as good deals. That allows you to have far more pricing information versus just using Kelley Blue Book, for example. As a popular site for car buying, CarGurus sees over 20 million car shoppers per month. Like Autotrader and Craigslist, this is a classified ad style site. That means you'll need to respond to interested buyers on your own and set up meetings and test drives. Similarly, that usually means that you should only deal with cash. CarGurus does remove some anonymity from the transaction, though, as they do require verified emails.

5. Autotrader

Autotrader is one of the oldest 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 a large number of 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 vehicle. They do charge ad fees that range 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 your car, including giving you an anonymous 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, which brings in more potential buyers. Autotrader's long history does mean that it tends to bring in more serious buyers and fewer scammers.

Although you can list a classic car on any of the above popular sites, it's generally more worth your while to list this type of vehicle on an enthusiast site. Autotrader specifically has a section for classic cars, but sites like Hemmings.com and ClassicCars.com tend to be the best car sites for selling vintage vehicles.

The best website for selling a car depends mostly on the type of vehicle you have and what you're comfortable doing during the sales process.

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