Which Website Has the Most Cars For Sale By Owner?

There are a lot of benefits to buying a private-party car over a dealership purchase. You avoid middleman markups, dealer fees, and—in some states—sales taxes. You generally get more car for your money.
But where can you find used cars for sale by owner? It turns out that PrivateAuto has far more private-party car listings than other sites. Plus, we've built a self-service platform that gives you the tools to get the deal done, from first contact with the seller through paying for the car.

PrivateAuto vs the Competition

Our competitors mix dealership inventory with private-party listings. In most cases, it’s hard to tell one from the other. It turns out that other car-buying websites with massive volume have a very small percentage of private-party inventory.

PrivateAuto, in contrast, has no dealer listings. All our cars are listed by private sellers. Just look at the following numbers, averaged for a week in April 2024.

Private-Party Cars With a Unique Valid VIN

Company

Private-party vehicles for sale

PrivateAuto

120K

Autotrader

63K

Craigslist

15K *

Cars.com

14K

CarGurus

7K

eBay Motors

5K

* According to MarketCheck.com, Craigslist had 85K private-party listings at the time of the snapshot, but only 15K with a unique, valid vehicle identification number. This discrepancy highlights the need for a transactional marketplace that cuts down on vehicle scams.
Not only does PrivateAuto blow other sites out of the water for private-party inventory, but we also have a full suite of transactional tools that other sites don’t have.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

What is a Transactional Marketplace?

There are tons of platforms for buying used cars online these days. Most serve as “meetingplaces” but lack transactional capabilities. They help you find a car to buy, but that’s about it. You and the seller are left to muddle through how to meet up, how to handle paperwork, and how to handle payment.

PrivateAuto is the only transactional marketplace that takes you through every aspect of the deal. Here are some of the benefits:

In-app messaging keeps your contact info private.
Test drive scheduling feature eliminates back-and-forth with the seller
In-app electronic signing of the bill of sale protects you and gives you a legal record
Instant, fee-free, and secure payments via PrivateAuto Pay. Send any amount in the blink of an eye.

Found your dream car on CarGurus, Craigslist, or eBay Motors? Our DealNow feature lets you start a deal on another site and finish it with PrivateAuto. Invite the seller to DealNow via a custom link you'll create, and then enjoy our fast-track deal flow and proprietary infrastructure.

Start your transaction anywhere, finish it with PrivateAuto.

Why is it Better to Buy From a Private Seller?

Here are the advantages of skipping the dealership and buying from a private party:

Get a better price. The dealership business model depends on buying low and selling high to generate a profit and keep the lights on. Cut out the middleman and get a better deal.
Avoid dealer fees. Dealerships charge documentation fees that range from $50 to over $1,000.
You have access to a wider pool of potential sellers if you buy privately. More cars to choose from, at better prices.
You drive the deal on your terms: PrivateAuto allows you to make offers and negotiate the best deal directly with the seller.
In some states, buying from a private seller means no sales tax. For example, Hawaii and Nevada charge sales tax on retail (dealership) car purchases, but not on private-party ones.

The choice is clear: a private-party transaction is the way to go.

How to Buy a Car With PrivateAuto

You’ll love how smooth and secure the car-buying process is when you use the PrivateAuto mobile app.

1. Browse used cars for sale by owner. Filter by location, vehicle type, or other criteria.
2. Make offers on vehicles you like (PrivateAuto lets you offer less than the asking price).
3. Message the seller with any questions without giving your contact info.
4. Schedule the test drive while keeping your personal details private.
5. Electronically sign the bill of sale along with the seller.
6. Instantly send payment and take ownership of the car when the seller signs the title and gives you the keys.
Image highlighting Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto
Looking to sell your car? Create a listing on PrivateAuto and connect with interested buyers today!

Car Buying FAQ


What is the safest way to transfer money when buying a vehicle privately?

The safest way to pay for a car is PrivateAuto Pay. It’s the only way to send instantaneous transfers over $5,000 with no exchange of personal or financial information.

Since the payment is available to the seller as soon as you send it, you’ll be able to take possession of the vehicle when you meet for the test drive.

What paperwork is needed to buy a car from a private seller?


Do I need an escrow service when buying a car privately?


When I buy a car from a private seller, can I drive it home?


What to do after you buy a car from a private seller?


What is the maximum amount for a cashier's check?


Do I have to pay sales taxes twice if I buy a car out of state?


What are the most common car-buying scams?


Is paying with a check better than paying in cash?


Can I pay by bank transfer for a used car?


What’s the cheapest way to buy a car?