Cars and Bids vs PrivateAuto for Car Auctions

Cars and Bids is longstanding vehicle auction website. PrivateAuto is a newer, technology-driven car auction platform. Let’s compare the two sites across all the metrics that matter to a private car seller.
There is a sea of websites where you can sell your car, but all of them—Cars and Bids included—offer zero help for seeing the transaction through. They allow sellers and buyers to find one another, and that’s about it. PrivateAuto is the first transactional marketplace for peer-to-peer car sales, and we make every part of the transaction easy, safe, and intuitive.

Here’s how PrivateAuto and Cars and Bids compare for private-party car auctions.

Cars and Bids



4.5% (buyers only).

$325 (buyer and seller combined)

Transactional tech

No innovation. Connects buyer and seller and leaves them to navigate the transaction on their own.

A complete technology stack to facilitate every phase of the deal.


Slow. Takes several days to get your listing live.

Fast. Your listing can be live almost immediately.


Difficult to navigate.

Intuitive to navigate

Communication with buyers

Clunky, exposes contact info.

Securely handled via the PrivateAuto app; keeps your personal info private.

Identity verification


Yes. You can choose to deal with verified buyers only.

Funds verification


Yes. Weed out tire-kickers by dealing with buyers whose funds are verified.

Is the auction binding?

No. The winning bidder has right of first refusal.

Seller can enforce immediate follow-through or the winning bid is negated.


No support. Buyer and seller handle payment off-platform; all options are inconvenient, risky, slow, or expensive.

PrivateAuto Pay allows you to receive any amount of money, instantly, with no transfer fees. Like Venmo—for high-dollar transactions.


Encourage you to use a third-party escrow service (inconvenient and expensive).

Self-administered escrow-like safeguards baked into the workflow.


No support.

Electronically sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app.


Book car shipping by contacting them during limited work hours or by e-mail.

Book car shipping within the PrivateAuto app.


Schedule an inspection from a mechanic for $199.

Schedule an inspection from a qualified mechanic within the PrivateAuto app.

Integrated services

None: buyer must coordinate between multiple parties.

Get insurance, car shipping, a warranty, an inspection, or financing within the PrivateAuto app.

What is a Self-Serve Auction?

A self-serve auction allows you to take multiple bids for your car, and sell it to the highest bidder. It enables you to conduct the entire process yourself, rather than using an auction house or third party to manage the auction.

PrivateAuto is a technology stack that empowers you to conduct your own auction. Our transactional tools take you through the entire process, from creating a listing to getting paid for your car by the winning bidder.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Is Cars and Bids a Self-Serve Auction?

Cars and Bids has self self-serve features—you create your own listing—but relies on human mediation from the Cars and Bids team.

When listing a vehicle on Cars and Bids, the seller creates the listing, then waits for approval from Cars and Bids. Humans will vet the listing and help the seller establish a reserve (if applicable). This takes several days.

Cars and Bids is not a fully self-serve auction format, whereas PrivateAuto is.

Which Auction Site is Cheaper?

Looking at total fees across a sale, PrivateAuto is cheaper than Cars and Bids.

Cars and Bids


Costs to seller

No fees.

$25 listing fee, $150 closing fee (due only when the car sells).

Costs to buyer

4.5% of the winning bid amount ($225 minimum; $4,500 maximum).

$150 closing fee.

Total costs



Let’s talk about seller costs. On the surface, Cars and Bids is free for sellers, but once you account for buyer costs, you’re losing money.

Why should a seller account for buyer costs when comparing prices for the two platforms? To answer that, put yourself in the winning bidder’s shoes.

As the buyer, you are willing to spend $70,000 total to buy that classic car, buyer’s fee included. On Cars and Bids, you know you’ll end up paying a 4.5% buyer’s fee, which means your highest bid is in the ballpark of $66K.

On PrivateAuto, you’ll only pay $150, so you can afford to bid almost up to your $70K budget.

In either scenario, the buyer is out of pocket $70K. With PrivateAuto, the seller takes home nearly $70K. With Cars and Bids, the seller takes home around four thousand dollars less.

That’s how buyer’s fees cost the seller money. And that’s why PrivateAuto is a better deal for buyers and sellers alike.

Which Auction Site Is Easier to Navigate?

PrivateAuto is far easier to navigate with its intuitive interface and powerful dealflow.

Cars and Bids, like all our competitors, run on a combination of legacy technology and human intervention. This means that it has little in the way of transactionality. Listings are glorified blog posts—web pages with text and images—and don’t offer any functionality beyond allowing a buyer and a seller to find each other.

PrivateAuto, in contrast, enables every stage of the deal.

Buyers and sellers can communicate safely without ever exchanging contact information.
Buyers can schedule the test drive from the seller’s pre-selected availability in our in-app scheduling tool—no awkward back-and-forth needed. The buyer shows up at the seller’s chosen location and they conclude the deal.
Buyers and sellers electronically sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app.
Buyers will experience a collection of extra features within the PrivateAuto app, from car shipping to insurance to financing and more.
Payments are instant and secure, with no transaction fees or limits, thanks to PrivateAuto’s integrated banking.

On Cars and Bids, the buyer and seller are left to their own devices to communicate, meet up, handle documentation, and figure out how to transfer funds (spoiler alert: outside of PrivateAuto Pay, all options are bad).

Which Platform is More Secure?

PrivateAuto offers greater security and safety than Cars and Bids.

Buyers have funds verified, weeding out tire-kickers who can’t afford the seller’s car.
Secure encryption keeps everyone protected.
Buyers and sellers have their identities verified, weeding out fraudsters.
Unlike Cars and Bids—which forces buyer and seller to exchange contact info to finalize the transaction—PrivateAuto allows you to easily do the deal without ever giving out personal information.
Electronic docu-signing binds both parties to a legally-enforceable contract, so the buyer can safely transfer funds to the seller without the concern of getting scammed.
PrivateAuto Pay gives you escrow-like safeguards—without the expense and inconvenience of a third-party escrow service (and without the risk of falling prey to an escrow scam).

Which Website Is Safer For Payments?

PrivateAuto has a built-in payment service called PrivateAuto Pay. It transfers any amount of money instantly and with zero transfer fees. Sort of like Venmo—for high-dollar transactions.

Cars and Bids does not support payments. The buyer and seller need to navigate the transfer of funds on their own. Here are their options:

Cash: inconvenient (have you ever tried to withdraw $70K from your bank?). Also, it’s risky to carry large sums of cash with you.
PayPal, Venmo, or other payment services: low payment limits, sometimes transaction fees. Inadequate for a large purchase.
Check: nobody in their right mind will take a personal check. Cashier’s checks are inconvenient and not foolproof.
Zelle: limits on transfer amounts, inadequate for most vehicle purchases.
Bank transfer: slow, inconvenient, with associated fees. Dependent on banker’s hours.

Outside of PrivateAuto Pay, payment options are slow, risky, inconvenient, expensive—or all of the above.

Which Site Has Integrated Services?

Cars and Bids doesn’t offer an integrated ecosystem like PrivateAuto.

We’ve partnered with reputable providers for the following services, all of which can be accessed through your PrivateAuto dashboard:

The integration of these services allows you to avoid awkward coordination between multiple parties. Just order an inspection, car shipping, or other services, and watch it seamlessly happen as part of your PrivateAuto dealflow.

Do I Need an Escrow Service to Auction My Car?

When you use a platform like Cars and Bids, it’s smart to use an escrow company because the Cars and Bids platform has few safeguards.

When you use PrivateAuto, we give you escrow-like control and protection. Unlike an escrow service, PrivateAuto Pay is free and instantaneous.

No more waiting for “regular business hours.”
No more forking over hundreds or thousands in escrow fees.
No more coordinating between buyer, seller, and escrow agent.

With PrivateAuto Pay, you act as your own escrow agent. Here’s how PrivateAuto Pay protects you in a PrivateAuto auction:

1. Buyer and seller each link their banking institution to their PrivateAuto Pay account. The buyer funds their PrivateAuto Pay account and the funds are verified to the seller.
2. The buyer wins the auction and the PrivateAuto app takes the buyer and seller through a series of confirmations and asks each to electronically sign the official bill of sale.
3. The PrivateAuto app confirms to each party that the other party has signed the bill of sale. At this point, the buyer is safe to transfer the money since the seller is bound by a legal agreement to deliver the vehicle.
4. The app prompts the buyer to release funds and the buyer initiates payment.
5. The seller instantly gets confirmation that funds have appeared in their PrivateAuto Pay account. This works on nights, weekends, holidays, or anytime.
6. The seller signs over the title and delivers the keys to the buyer.

No cost, no hassle, no wasting time. It’s the ultimate way to handle a private-party car sale. Using PrivateAuto Pay, a buyer can even buy a car remotely and have it shipped to their doorstep!
Image highlighting Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Which Vehicles Are Good For An Auction?

The auction format is perfect for unusual or enthusiast cars. These vehicles can’t be easily valued with a vehicle value calculator or a Kelley Blue Book search. The auction format lets you see what the prospective buyers are willing to pay.

Here are some car categories that may do better via an auction than a standard listing:

Influencer cars
Custom-built vehicles
One-off vehicles
Celebrity vehicles
Limited edition vehicles
Estate sale cars (often required by law to have multiple offers)

If your car is unique in any way, consider auctioning it on PrivateAuto. If your car is a mass-produced car, you may be better off listing it in a standard sale.

Auction FAQ

Are online car auctions safe?

PrivateAuto has created an online auction service that is safe, secure, and convenient. We verify the identity of buyers to weed out fraudsters. We verify funds so that your winning bid isn’t a tire-kicker. And we allow you to get paid securely via PrivateAuto Pay.

Should I auction my car on Cars and Bids?

What are the best car auction sites?

Can I get more for my unique car if I auction it?

Can I get more for my unique car if I auction it?

Is PrivateAuto safe?

How much do cars sell for at auction?

How much do sellers usually pay in auction fees?