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AutoTrader Review

Saturday, May 18th

2024 Car Selling Site Reviews

AutoTrader Review 3.5 Star Rating


3.5 Star Rating
  • $49 to list your car for sale or get a KBB Instant Cash Offer
  • Include up to 30 photos at no extra charge
  • No-cost ad renewals every 30 days for up to a year
  • Free vehicle history report included in your ad
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB

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.

Best Car Selling Sites

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.

What's the Best Way to Sell Your Car?

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.

The Best Car Selling Sites Compare Car Selling Sites Compare Car Selling Site Reviews What are the best Car Selling Sites Best Car Selling Site Reviews

Car Selling Site FAQ

Yes! The days of taking out an ad in the classifieds are gone - most private sellers sell their cars by listing them online. The process is simple and makes it possible for thousands of prospective buyers to see your vehicle.
Nothing! There are several sites that allow you to list your car for free. Of course, most of these sites offer upgraded listings for a fee, if you'd like to put up more photos, have your ad up for longer than 30 days, or include your vehicle's CARFAX report.
Start by determining a fair market value for your car: most people use Kelley Blue Book to do that. Then, make sure your vehicle is reasonably clean - you don't have to spend a lot of money for a professional detailing, but at least make sure to wash it well and do a thorough job of cleaning out the inside (no crumbs, fast food wrappers, or unpleasant odors!). Finally, set up your online listing for maximum visibility: the more information you provide, including photos, the more prospective buyers you'll get.
At the very least, you'll need to have the vehicle's title in hand (or available for electronic transfer at your DMV). If you still owe money on your car, contact your lender to find out their process for getting the title. Other paperwork that can help you sell your car includes documentation of the service history (e.g. oil changes, tire rotations), initial purchase documents if you bought the car new, and a vehicle history report from a service like CARFAX.
For safety reasons, you may want to arrange to meet at a neutral public location like a parking lot or even outside of the police station. If the buyer wants to take a test drive - as they should! - you should get a photo of their driver's license and be sure to ride along with them.
Absolutely! While you may not get as much money for your vehicle this way, it eliminates a lot of the hassle you'll experience when selling to a private buyer. There are online services that specialize in advertising your car only to dealerships. You could get an instant cash offer, or a dealer might ask to do an in-person appraisal first.
That's up to you, but a smart buyer will probably request one from a mechanic they trust instead of taking yours at face value. It might be better to wait until you have a buyer and let them choose if and where to have an inspection done.
Call your insurer! If you're planning on getting a new car, you may have to keep your policy in place so that there's no lapse in coverage.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

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:

  • Cash offer or DIY? Some services give you both options, while others specialize in just one pathway. If you go the offer route, it's a good idea to compare quotes among several platforms to help you get top dollar for your vehicle.
  • Tools. Does the service help you price your car appropriately or show you an estimate from an objective source like Kelley Blue Book?
  • Payment methods. How will you get the money for your car? Will you walk away with cash in hand, a cashier's check, or find yourself waiting for a bank transfer or a check in the mail?
  • Reputation. What do other sellers say about their experience with the service? Was it transparent and fair, or did they feel ripped off in the end? Has the Better Business Bureau rated the company?

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!

The Best Reviews of Car Selling Sites