What is the best site to sell a car? You and your car have made some memories together. Some are fond memories...
... of spontaneous road trips, travel to see old college buddies, going to Grandma’s for thanksgiving…
And then there are memories of the gridlock in commuter traffic…
... the times when you couldn’t remember where you parked… and when you were running late and couldn’t find your keys.
And now you’ve decided to part with your memory-maker.
There’s a ton of places to sell your car online. Some of them free, others charge a monthly fee. So which is the best?
The team at PrivateAuto compared some of the most popular car selling websites:
- Auto Trader
- eBay Motors
- Facebook Marketplace
We’ll look at each site’s features to see who offers the best selling and buying experience.
After decades as a print publication, Autotrader added a digital version in 1997. In 2017, the popular auto trading publication pivoted to an online-only selling magazine.
In Autotrader’s dead-tree media days, it was popular because most people saw it as more complete than the local newspaper classified ads. That popularity carried over its shift to digital.
That means your ad could reach a wide audience.
Auto Trader has 3 tiers of advertising:
Basic - $25. The basic listing includes listing on Kelley Blue Book and allows up to 3 photos.
Featured - $50. Featured listings allow up to 20 photos. These appear before the basic ads but after the premium ads.
Upgrades for Basic and Featured:
- Vehicle history report - $15. Having a history report gives shoppers confidence when they are looking for a reliable car. It also boosts the visibility in the search results by 40%.
- Supercharger - $10. It makes your ad the most prominent on the search engine results.
- Spotlight - $15. On a site as popular as Autotrader.com, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Spotlight ads put you at the top of the pile. Spotlight ads appear on a rotating basis.
- Ten additional photos - $20.
Premium - $90. Premium listings appear before Featured or Basic listings. If you’re willing to pay extra, you can rise to the top.
Premium listing includes a history report, supercharger, and spotlight upgrades at no extra charge. You can add 10 more photos for $20.
You can add a graphic tile to your ad to make it stand out. The tile appears in the bottom right corner and blazons a special feature about your car. It might say “Warranty,” “One Owner,” or any other feature.
Ads run for 30 days on all packages. You can renew any listing for another 30 days.
Other Autotrader features include:
- Ad traffic reports show you how many times you showed up in the search results, how many people interacted with your ad, and more.
- Pricing tools let you compare dealer and private listing prices in your area so you can accurately price your car.
- Run ‘til it sells. You can continuously run your ad for up to 365 days. After that, Auto Trader assumes the car sold and takes down the ad. If you need to run it longer, contact customer support.
- A Printable “For Sale” sign automatically fills in your car’s details.
- Kelley Blue Book listing. Autotrader runs an ad on KBB for the same duration as your Autotrader ad.
You’ll compete with a lot of dealer listings. The larger dealerships with big budgets rule the top of the search results. Even if you get the upgraded packages, you still might get lost in the sea of dealer ads.
What’s more, dealerships can buy sponsored listings. That pushes you even farther down the list. You can pay an arm and a leg and still not show on page one.
You can list your car on eBay as an auction item or for sale at a fixed price.
They have 3 ad packages:
Basic Package - $25.
- Auction or fixed-priced listing
- Up to 12 photos
- List for up to 7 days
- Includes AutoCheck vehicle history report
Plus Package - $55.
- Up to 18 photos
- Auction for up to 7 days or fixed-priced for up to 30 days
- Reserve price up to $20,000
- AutoCheck report
Premium Package - $95.
- Up to 24 photos
- Gallery plus upgrade
- Auction up to 10 days or fixed-price up to 30 days
- “Buy It Now” for auction listings
- AutoCheck report
- Bold title and subtitle upgrades
In 2008, Facebook surpassed the membership rate of the voguish MySpace(which is still around, by the way). In 2016, Facebook introduced Marketplace. It gives Facebook users a place to buy and sell for free.
Advertising on Facebook Marketplace has some obvious benefits:
- List for free
- Gets high exposure
- Easy to use
- Your friends can share your ad
Since shoppers can view a private seller’s profile page, they tend to see Marketplace as a trustworthy place to find a used car.
Facebook Marketplace only connects buyers and sellers. It doesn’t have any tools to close the deal.
Facebook lets dealers list their inventory on Marketplace. They can’t list new cars, but they can advertise used and certified pre-owned. As on other selling sites, dealer listings could weaken your presence.
Private sellers can list for $4.95 on CarGurus. Listings expire after 60 days, but you can renew before the date. You can reopen ads up to 30 days after they expire.
It takes a couple of days for your ad to appear. That’s because CarGurus verifies that you have the car in your possession before they approve it.
CarGurus uses a car pricing system called Instant Market Value (IMV). When you place an ad, it compares your offer to the IMV and rates the quality of your deal:
- High or Overpriced
CarGurus Offer Tool and Messenger
The messaging system lets buyers and sellers communicate without sharing personal info. Buyers can make offers and request more info. Sellers can manage offers through the messaging system.
Test Drive Scheduler
The CarGurus test drive scheduler lets you set up a neutral location that’s convenient for you and the buyer. Then you choose dates and times that you’re available to meet.
You can choose up to 3 date and time slots. If the buyer messages that none of those times work, you'll have to delete that test drive and set up another.
Some other useful features CarGurus offers:
- Verified funds. You won’t need to deal with not-so-serious offers. CarGurus makes sure that the buyer can actually afford your car.
- Verified title. Helps you avoid title fraud.
- Bill of sale. Both parties can sign with an electronic signature.
- Secure online payment.
You can’t use the online payment platform to take a security deposit, only payment for the car.
CarGurus doesn’t let dealers post as private sellers. Any violation and they remove the listing without a refund.
The search engine doesn’t allow users to filter for private sellers only. If they want a car from a private seller, they have no choice but to wade through all the dealer ads.
Besides that, dealers can buy sponsored listings which appear above the other ads.
In other words, you could be a needle in the dealer ads haystack.
When Craigslist began, you could advertise a used car for free. In 2019, Craigslist shifted to charging $5. The ad runs for 30 days. Each ad renewal costs another $5.
You can repost an ad before the renewal date. It’ll cost you another 5 bucks. When you repost, you make a copy of the original ad which goes to the top of the list.
You can make changes to the reposted ad:
Reposting ads lets you test different versions of the ad to see if you can get a better response rate.
The $5 fee irks some users of this once all-free site. It does have a clear benefit though — it discourages used car scammers.
A seller has to pay the nominal fee with a debit or credit card. That means law enforcement can trace an ad back to a fraudster. It makes it hard for rip-off artists to get away with it.
PrivateAuto is the only car trading site that’s solely for private sales. No dealer listings here. When you sell with us, you’re not standing in the shadow of dealer giants.
No Sharing of Personal Info
We do all we can to weed out the fraudsters, and other undesirables.
We verify every user’s ID, email, and phone number so that used car hunters can shop our site with confidence.
We also verify the vehicle identification number (VIN) and car title.
All communication takes place in the PrivateAuto messaging system. You don’t have to give your personal data to strangers.
Easy-To-Use Extras and Tools
We provide you with state-specific electronic documents that you can complete right in the app. What’s more, they accept electronic signatures.
You also get a free printable window brochure so you can advertise on the road.
When a buyer is ready to meet with you to inspect and test drive the car, use the PrivateAuto scheduling tools.
The test drive scheduler lets you choose a neutral location to meet with the buyer. If you don’t know the best meeting place, the scheduler will offer suggestions.
The buyer can schedule a mechanical inspection with an ASE Certified technicianusing the PrivateAuto inspection scheduler.
PrivateAuto listings also include:
- Verify buyer funds
- Integrated financing options
- Secure banking and money transfers up to $250,000
- Real-time transfer tracking
Most car selling sites cater to dealers. It means your ad will most likely get pushed down the list. PrivateAuto advertises only private sellers, so you won’t have to compete with big-money dealerships.
And no one makes selling your car easier:
- Free window brochure
- State-specific electronic documents
- Electronic signatures
- No sharing of personal data
- Accept, reject, and counter offers
- Schedule test drives and inspections
- Help guide for selling in your state
A lot of used car sellers list on several sites. You should too.
Be sure to include a link to send prospects to your PrivateAuto ad. That way, they can enjoy the convenience of PrivateAuto’s features.