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Tuesday, February 7th
Over 14 million people visit the Autotrader site each month in their attempts to research, buy, or sell a car. If you're trying to get a good price for your used vehicle, that's a lot of potential customers.
Instant quote or DIY
Autotrader takes a two-pronged approach to selling cars: Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offers from a participating dealership near you (no charge) or listing your car privately ($49/listing with free renewals up to a year). The fastest route is the first one: enter your license plate or VIN, tell Autotrader the specifics about your vehicle's condition, and then get cash or trade-in credit offers from a participating dealer near you. That offer is valid for 7 days. Next, you'll bring your car to the dealer for an inspection to verify the info you entered during the quote process, and you've got one day after the inspection to redeem the cash offer.
Dealers have to honor offer amount
Will the amount change? It might, if the dealer inspects your car and finds that you didn't represent it accurately or you drive more than 50 miles after it's been inspected. However, other than those two circumstances, dealers that participate in this program are required to honor the Instant Cash Offer: that's a reassurance you won't find with some dealer-connected services for selling cars.
Fully-featured private seller listings
Autotrader is probably more well-known for its private listing service. It isn't free - you'll pay $49 - but you can renew your ad at no charge every 30 days for up to a year, if it takes that long to sell your car. It'll be listed on both Autotrader and the Kelley Blue Book site, exposing your ad to millions of active shoppers. Your ad can include up to 30 photos, and it comes with a free vehicle history report. You'll get guidance for pricing using the KBB Private Party Value tool, plus plenty of guidance in writing up your listing. Prospective buyers will fill out the contact form on your ad, and Autotrader will forward it to the email address you specify: you remain anonymous (just first name and last initial) until you decide to respond to a buyer's request for information.
Not effective for selling cars on your own
You might think that Autotrader is a great option for selling your car when you see that the Better Business Bureau gives the company an "A+" and accreditation. Typically we view that as confirmation of a service's trustworthiness, but comments we found outside of the BBB made us think twice. Review after review from people selling cars described an inundation of spam/scam emails once they posted their listing - so much that it was rare to find even one legitimate inquiry among all of the fraud-y ones. "Waste of money" and "waste of time" are the two phrases we saw most often used to evaluate the Autotrader experience when selling a car.
Site is good, but users not so much
We like that Autotrader gives you two options, whether you want to take a DIY approach and sell your car on your own, or take the easy route and get a dealer offer. The company has been around a long time, and we don't have any concerns about its reputability. However, sellers seem to have a consistently disappointing experience with the self-listing options here. We recommend using that feature with caution, and maybe look more closely at the Instant Cash Offer before listing your car as a private seller.
Gone are the days of newspaper classifieds and putting a "for sale" sign in the dashboard window: most people today sell their cars online. It's usually easy, often fast, and there are lots of tools to help you set a competitive asking price. Generally speaking, you'll choose between two different methods of selling your car: getting a cash offer from a dealership (either online-only or one with a brick-and-mortar location near you) or creating a listing to sell it privately - like those newspaper ads but digital.
Which one is right for you? That depends. Cash offers often eliminate a lot of hassle: you don't have to screen prospective buyers, set up multiple appointments with interested customers, or verify the authenticity of their payment method. Many of the online-only services will pick up the vehicle at no charge, from any address you specify.
Of course, that convenience may cost you. Not every service with cash offers will take cars in any condition, and you may get more money for your car with a private buyer. After all, they're trying to avoid the markup that always happens after a dealership buys a used car and puts it on their lot, so you might be able to meet in the middle and start at a higher asking price. Many people selling cars try both at the same time: shopping around for the best cash offer while testing the waters with a private listing. It's up to you.
What will you need to sell your car? Either route you choose, you'll almost always need current, valid registration papers; any available key fobs/remotes and manuals; valid state-issued photo ID; and, typically, anyone named as an owner on the title needs to be present at the time of sale. Are you required to have a paper title in hand? That depends on the state where you live and the terms of the car-selling service you select.
There are quite a few sites out there for selling cars. Which one is the best for you? Keep these criteria in mind to help you decide:
To help you choose the right platform for selling your car, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the most popular services currently available online. We hope this information makes it possible for you to sell your car quickly and get the most possible cash out of the deal!
Select any 2 Car Selling Sites to compare them head to head
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