Best car buying and selling sites in the USA
Whether you’re looking for a cheap run around, your dream car, or looking to offload an old ride, there are lots of great sites on the internet for you to connect with.
COVID-19 has forced many people to rethink the way they buy and sell a car. This has led to an increase in the popularity of online shopping, and we’re going to introduce you to the best car buying sites right here.
As well as allowing you to comply with social distancing recommendations, the following benefits also apply to buying and selling a vehicle online:
- It’s much faster
- It’s cheaper
- Your ad is seen by thousands of people
- You can find financing, insurance and check your credit report at the same time
- Researching a vehicle is easier
First fine-tune your search and get all the relevant details
When you’re shopping for a car, whether you want new or used, research is the key to finding the best deal. Taking your time, in the beginning, means you’ll learn more about the vehicles you’re buying and it allows you to compare prices.
If you’re looking to sell your current vehicle, you’ll also be able to get some guidance on advertising your car and the price tag you should put on it.
The following websites will help you hone in on a great deal for a used car and sharpen your skills when it comes to selling.
Edmunds focuses on selling new cars with their Price Promise® guarantee. It aims to eliminate haggling with a car dealer. How it works is that you identify a new vehicle you want and get a price promise coupon. You can then use your coupon when you buy from a car dealership.
However, the features of this site that interest online car sellers and buyers the most is the wealth of information it provides on the various types of car. It also offers True Market Values® for private party sales, dealer retail, and trade-in sales.
You simply enter your zip code, year, make, model, and trim of the car you want. You then add the options, colors, condition, and mileage, and Edmunds gives you an accurate market value. You can use this to determine whether the price you’re looking at online is a fair one.
NADA allows you to research new car prices and used car book values. You have the option of sorting the information by make, miles per gallon, and price ranges. Also available are location-based “best prices,” a neat car comparison tool, payment calculators, and a link you can use to get an insurance quote.
If you visit the Certified Pre-Owned Car Center you can look up the CPO pricing for any vehicle you want. It also lists warranty options, and provides sale listings for any cars in your zip code.
Another useful feature is the four-car comparison tool. Not only do you see a side-by-side breakdown of basics such as price and MPG. It also shows you interior and exterior images and gives you a five-year projection of costs that includes fuel, insurance, taxes, fees, and maintenance.
Kelley Blue Book is a trusted resource for fun and informative new car reviews, road tests, comparisons, auto show coverage, long-term tests, and car-related information. It has been published in hard copy since the 1960s, but more recently it has focused on its website and mobile app to provide car guides, reviews, and valuations.
It is now a subsidiary of Auto Trader and is usually the dealer choice when it comes to valuing vehicles if you want to trade one in.
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that reviews products across many different categories, including vehicles. Visit the site and you’ll find tips and tools to help with every step in the car selling and buying process.
If you’re buying a new car you might want to check out its car buying service, which allows members to see what local buyers paid for similar new cars.
Best 21 sites to buy and sell a car online
Now you’ve done some research, let’s introduce some of the best sites for you to sell or buy a car online.
AutoTrader: The old faithful
AutoTrader started life as a car sales magazine, long before the internet was invented. The aim of the magazine was to eliminate the hassle of finding and buying a used car. The magazine was in every convenience store.
The AutoTrader website has taken everything that was good about the magazine features, expanded them even further and made it available for everyone online. It is considered by many to be the best website to buy used cars.
You’ll find all the tools you need to make a decision about the used car you want to buy. The magazine used to be mostly private party sellers, but that’s not the case anymore. Now it features mostly professional car dealers selling their wares.
One useful feature is the Car Research and Review section. Here you can calculate how much car you can afford. It also helps you calculate monthly payments based on a set price and loans interest rate. You can also compare certified pre-owned programs.
AutoTrader has partnered with Kelley Blue Book to offer you most of these tools. They allow you to research used cars by make or body style, technical specifications, access reviews, and to compare invoice prices vs. MSRP.
If you want to view what’s available when you’re on the move, AutoTrader apps are available for Android and iOS.
CarGurus: One of the most visited online car marketplace
CarGurus has a research section that is well laid out and easy to understand. If you know what you want you can get the information straight away. But if you’re undecided, you get to browse the columns of recent test drive reviews and previews for cars that are yet to be released.
Search for any make and model and you’ll get numerous results. Each gets a Deal Rating, from Great to Bad, based on the CarGurus algorithm which uses the instant market value. What this rating means is that you can compare the market prices of any car with similar listings. It also produces a chart you can use to compare national and local listings.
If you want to sell a vehicle, CarGurus doesn’t charge you a penny. This feature makes it the best website for used cars for sale by owner. Tools are available to help you get the best possible price for your motor, for example Price Analysis with the Instant Market Value and Dealer Trade-In Estimate. It means you can adjust your selling price and get instant feedback on where your car will feature in their search rankings. You also get to see the best price deal in your area, allowing you to gauge how quickly you’ll be able to sell your car.
According to CarGurus, more than 20 million shoppers visit the site every month, which backs up the fact that it is considered the best place to buy cars online. .
CarsDirect: A great site if you’re looking for something basic
CarsDirect is a simple and straightforward site that is all about the basics. You’re able to search for used cars within a specific area. You can filter your search, basing it on price, make, model, body style, and more. Your search results will include offerings from both private owners and dealers. A useful feature is that you can view your desired car’s Carfax report.
If you find something you like, the next step is to submit an inquiry, after which you’ll receive more details from the seller. You also have the option to request special financing if necessary.
Car dealers’ websites are linked to the site, and there are comprehensive maps to direct you to each store’s location, making it one of the top car buying sites in our list.
Craigslist: List for free
Craigslist is one of the best car buying sites for buying from a private party seller. It’s also a great place to shop if you want to beat retail dealer prices. However, Craigslist has a huge benefit for anyone who wants to sell their car. You can create a hyper-local, photo-rich free listing and make a no-stress sale. Your sale may take a little longer because you’re not putting it out in front of a nationwide audience.
You may have heard some horror stories connected with shopping on Craigslist, but this site can help you out in a big way if you know how to avoid the bad stuff.
If you’re not happy about buying a new car from Craigslist don’t worry. Keep reading to find out where to find used cars other than Craigslist.
eBay Motors: See past sales of similar cars
eBay is another great used car selling sites where you can check out private party seller vehicles, but in this case, you get to see what’s available nationwide. Check out the used car section and you’ll be able to search for any make and model, or browse certified pre-owned cars. There’s also the option to search for parts and accessories.
If you’re in the market for a collector car, type “collector car” in the search option. You’ll find beautiful cars from as far back as the first Model Ts.
You can fine tune your search criteria to include, for example:
- Mileage, from less than 1,000 to 200,000
- Whether the seller is a dealer or private
- Vehicle titles, clear, rebuilt, salvage
- Disability equipment
If you want to use eBay Motors to sell a car you can choose to offer a “buy it now” option. If a buyer chooses this they pay outright for the item and no auctioning is required. There’s also the eBay auction process. If you sell your car for $2,000 or less, you pay $60. If you sell your car for more than $2,000 you pay a fee of $125.
The tag line for this site is “Ultimate Price Transparency.” The site lists more than 500,000 used cars available from certified dealers across the USA.
TrueCar has partnerships with American Express, USAA, AAA, Geico, Allstate, and several other nationwide businesses. Carfax reports are made available for all vehicles for sale, but they cost between $39.99 for one report or $54.99 for unlimited reports taken within 60 days. If you’re shopping on this site, you’re probably better off paying the extra $15. In your hunt for the perfect car, you’ll be able to use this to compare VIN-based car histories across many websites.
TrueCar allows you to request a price directly from the dealer and take advantage of any affiliate discounts and dealer benefits. You’re sent a “Used Vehicle Certificate” with the TruePrice which you then take along to the dealer.
When it comes to selling, TrueCar used to have its own Sell Mobile app. Unfortunately, the company has now decided to focus exclusively on connecting buyers with available cars at partner dealerships.
Cars.com: The best online car sales site for the basics
Used vehicles sold through cars.com come with a CARFAX report. Both dealers and private sellers have the option of providing a report to the potential buyer, for which they charge a modest fee. Occasionally, the seller pays for the report which means you get to access it for free.
If you’ve got a car you want to sell, cars.com has the fastest method for obtaining a price estimate on a used car. You enter a few basic details and receive an instant pair of price ranges for dealer retail and private party selling.
You get three options if you’re selling: dealer appraisals, quick offer, and placing your own ad on cars.com. There’s also a seller’s app for Android and iOS. However, if you’re not confident using a mobile device to sell your car, there’s an easy-to-use web interface,
NadaGuides is a great place to start your search. The website provides lots of information about the make and model of each car listed for sale. It also offers an insight into whether a car is priced well compared to other similar vehicles listed for sale.
If you want to sell a car, NadaGuides helps you build a great looking profile, by asking a variety of questions to better understand your car. Using the info you provide it builds an online profile.
Hemmings: A great site for classic car lovers
Hemmings is a classic car lovers dream site that regularly features cars such as 1960 Chevrolet Impalas, Studebakers, and newer classics from the 80s.
It also features some useful tools if you need to locate specific parts and services for a car you already own. A daily newsletter is published that features the latest update, classified, and events. There’s also a fascinating blog that’s written by a team of knowledgeable car experts, and several other resources aimed at the classic car owner.
Hemmings is also an invaluable resource for buying tips and links to upcoming local auctions. It also has its own auction service that lists anything from a 1930 Ford Model A to a 1989 nChrysler TC.
Facebook Marketplace: Allows you to vet your buyer or seller
Facebook is no longer a place for catching up friends and posting what you ate for dinner last night. Now you can shop for a used car and sell your old one. As well as individual ads, dealerships can also list cars on Facebook Marketplace.
One benefit of this platform is that you can view a person’s profile before agreeing to meet, as long as you’re a Facebook member.
Tred is another best car sales website that features private sellers selling vehicles but includes added assurances such as quality inspections and secured payment. The website also helps with logistical tasks such as taxes and paperwork.
Carfax is best known for its exhaustive vehicle history reports on used cars. However, consumers can also shop for used cars and learn the history behind each one. The company works with 28,000 dealers and has millions of cars available.
Carvana: Pick your car up from a vending machine
Carvana hasn’t been around as long as some of the other car websites we’ve featured, but it is continuing to grow in popularity. The website is very user-friendly and easy to navigate, which makes finding a car you like very straightforward.
If you’re selling, Carvana makes several tools available to help you market your vehicle and reach as many buyers as possible.
One thing that makes this brand stand out from all the others is its fully-automated, coin-operated car vending machine. Once a car has been purchased online, it’s dispensed to customers through a fully-automated vending machine.
Bring-A-Trailer: For rare cars and classics
If you’ve got a rare classic or eye-popping sports car you want to sell, this could be the place to do it. Every car that is featured on this website is carefully vetted, and it’s full of enthusiast traffic. Because of the site’s clientele, the cars featured tend to sell for high amounts and it works on an auction-based system, just like eBay Motors. If you manage to sell your car the site takes a fee of $99.
If you’re looking to buy a new motor, here are a few examples of what’s currently available include:
- Euro 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SE Coupe
- 1972 Ford Mustang SportsRoof Sprint Package 4-Speed
- 1970 Chevrolet Nova Coupe 355ci 4-Speed
- One-Family-Owned 1955 MG TF 1500
- 1952 International Harvester L-122
Vroom: Selling only used cars
Vroom is another one of our recommended car selling sites. Breowse what’s on offer and you don’t have to spend your weekends visiting endless dealerships in the rain. The cars are sold directly from the web site and as well as catering to the needs of buyers, the site also looks after sellers who want a quick sale.
You let them know what it is you want to sell, and they’ll come back to you with an offer in 30 minutes or less. If you like the sound of the offer, you simply accept it and once it’s been collected, you’ll receive payment via direct deposit.
CarMax boasts of extensive inspections that all its cars undergo. Also on offer are a number of purchase protections, including a seven-day return window, a limited warranty of all cars, and the option to purchase a comprehensive service plan.
AutoTempest: Great for cross-site comparisons
Comparison sites are very popular for people looking for a bargain. The site combines search results from cars.com, AutoTrader, eBay Motors, CarsDirect, and many others.
On the homepage, you’ll also find checklists, buying guides, and plenty of advice and tips. You’ll find specific guides for a selection of car makes and models, comprehensive car reviews, and the answers to frequently asked questions.
RelayCars: Check out a virtual test drive
How would you like to climb inside a Mustang without going to a dealership? RelayCars offers virtual test drives, so you don’t have to leave home. Download the RelayCar app and strap on your favorite VR headset and you’ll be able to look around whatever is on sale. Virtual test drives are also available, however, for the moment, this option is only for Android phones.
Shift promises to extensively inspect all the vehicles it sells. If you live locally to the company’s service area you get the option to test drive it before you decide to buy. Prices aren’t up for negotiation as it sets them using an algorithm. It also has a warranty policy, but it’s not as generous as some of its competitors.
Autolist: Great if you want to browse on the go
Autolist is streaks ahead of other best car buying sites when it comes to mobile connectivity. The website is attractive and easy to use, but it’s the mobile app for Android and iOS that makes it standout.
The software is very intuitive and you’re able to quickly scour the databases of other shopping apps and various dealer websites. You also have access to a wealth of helpful information including how long a vehicle has been on sale, how the asking price has fluctuated over time, and what its Carfax report looks like.
Cars & Bids: One of the best auction sites for enthusiasts
This is a relative newcomer to the world of online car buying and selling, but it’s already got an enthusiastic following. It’s quickly become the go-to destination for enthusiasts. If you’re after something a little bit special, start your search right here.
Each auction includes a full gallery of the car, including close-ups and service records, a thorough description, ownership history, and any known flaws. You might even find some sellers including videos, which makes buying a car sight-unseen less stressful.
Tips for how to sell a used a car online
If you’re wondering how to sell a used car online here are a few tips on how to get the most out of the sale.
- Pick your platform: Some sites are better than others if, for example, you have a unique or high-value vehicle or want to reach as wide an audience as possible.
- Know what your car is worth: Check its value on KBB as well as the Instant Cash Offer tool that allows dealers to make an offer on your vehicle.
- Fix what isn’t working: No one will want to buy your car if it’s busted.
- Clean the car: If your car is dirty, prospective buyers will walk on by.
- Take lots of pictures: Online car buyers want to see your car from as many angles as possible.
- Include a VIN report with your listing: Carfax is the best-known service and it gives potential buyers peace-of-mind about your vehicle’s history.
- Be patient with questions: Most potential buyers will have lots of questions.
- Be prepared to negotiate: Most people assume there is some wriggle room.
- Ask for a deposit: If you’re selling your car for cash, ask for a deposit. They’ll be less likely to flake out.
- Offer multiple payment options: Popular methods include Venmo and PayPal, but some buyers might prefer to pay cash.
Tips for how to buy a new and used car online
Buying a car online has become a very popular pastime, particularly during the current restrictions currently imposed because of COVID-19. If you’re wondering how to buy a used or new car online here are some tips to help you get the best deal.
- Research is the key: Determine what kind of vehicle you need and can afford and then find out as much as you can about your choices.
- Consider the test drive: It’s possible to get a virtual test drive, but there are also companies such as WeGoLook that offer to test drive vehicles on your behalf.
- Get a vehicle history report: CarFax is the standard for used vehicle history reports.
- Have used cars independently inspected: Arrange to have the car looked over by an independent mechanic for extra peace of mind.
- Look for a return policy: Carvana, for example, offers a seven-day return policy.
- Decide how you’ll get your new car home: You always have the option of driving your new purchase home, but a much cheaper, safer, and more convenient option is to arrange car shipping with an auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport.
Here at SGT Auto Transport we offer an affordable, flexible, convenient, and straightforward auto transport service. If you need to get your latest purchase home give us a call on (864) 546-5038 and speak with our experienced shipping advisors.
While doing the research for this article, we came across some very interesting statistics. We thought we’d share them with you.
Interesting statistics on how consumers shop for cars
A study commissioned by AutoTrader and conducted by IHS Automotive found the following:
- Third-party sites or apps are the most used sites for car shopping and are used by 78% of shoppers.
- In the same study it was found that 88% of shoppers use the internet for vehicle shopping.
- Consumers that research or shop on the internet use AutoTrader or Kelley Blue Book 73% of the time.
- Car buyers spend 59% of their time online researching.
Cox Automotive has conducted various studies over the last 10 years in order to gain an understanding of car shopping and buying behavior, along with consumer’s perceptions of the dealer experience. Here are some interesting things they’ve found out:
- Walking in continues to be the most common form of initial contact with a dealership by more than 50%. However, telephone, email, and online chat are becoming increasingly popular thanks to the increased use of technology. This is very applicable during the current pandemic situation as people feel much safer and it saves time.
- Online car shoppers use the internet for various things. The top five activities include:
- 71% use it to research car prices.
- 68% use it to find actual listings of cars for sale.
- 64% compare different models.
- 63% use online tools to determine what their current car is worth.
- 46% go online to locate a dealer or get dealer information.
JD Power has also been studying car shopping trends. They found out the following:
- An increasing number of auto shoppers (22%, up from 16% in 2015) are relying on social media platforms to help with their purchasing decisions. But where are they looking?
- 13% use YouTube.
- 7% use DealerRater.
- 5% use Facebook.
- Slightly more than one-third of new-vehicle buyers who use social media for automotive information have posted a picture of their new vehicle on a social media site. Of the 34%, 88% posted on Facebook and 21% posted on Instagram.
In 2016, Beepi published the following insights as part of its 2016 Consumer Automotive Index, a national survey conducted online regarding American’s attitudes to the evolving experience of car ownership:
- 87% of Americans are unhappy with some part of the car shopping experience at car dealerships.
- 61% felt they have been taken advantage of when dealership shopping. This is one very good reason why so many people now choose to shop online. It’s a much less pushy experience for the customer.
- When questioned about newer car buying alternatives, 54% said they would love to be able to buy or sell a car from the comfort of their own home. 42% would be quite happy to buy a car without a test drive, providing the dealership offered some form of guarantee.
For our final insight into car shopping online, we’ve decided to refer to research commissioned by Google from Millward Brown Digital. It was found that:
- 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched.
- Views on YouTube of test drives, features, options, and walk-throughs doubled between 2014 and 2015. No doubt the figures are now even higher.