Selling Used Car Online
April 28, 2005 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had any luck with any of the commercial car selling sites? eBay motors? craigslist?

I need to sell my pickup truck (it's a 1998 high-mileage full-size 4x4 regular-cab in very good shape, if that matters, and I'm in MajorMetropolitanArea USA) sometime soon. When I do sell it, I'll need both to sell it as quickly as I reasonably can and for as much as I reasonably can get. Trading it in isn't an option (I'm not getting a replacement). Would you recommend selling online, given my requirements?
posted by TimeFactor to Work & Money (13 answers total)
I don't have any experience with ebay or craigslist, but a few years ago I sold a car using "car soup" (online seller for northern midwest). It's nice because you get a "list 'till it sells" listing with lots of text AND a color photo for the same price as you'd get in a local paper. Do be sure to take advantage of the photo option though, alot of buyers won't even click on listings without one. Stay away from ALLCAPS in the listing.

Anyways - yeah, I'd recommend listing it. It's a minimal expense for a listing that sticks around forever, so it's worth it.
posted by kavasa at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2005

Holy crap, I just took a look at carsoup and it's HUGE now. When I used it, it was Minneapolis/St. Paul and that was it, now it's all over the god damn place. I'd definitely say go with car soup over the others, if you can.
posted by kavasa at 10:55 AM on April 28, 2005

FWIW, I recently bought a used truck (98 also) through an ad on craigslist. The seller said he started getting calls about it right away; I purchased it about 4 days after the initial posting.

Be sure to include lots of pictures and description in your ad, these are very helpful for the buyer to figure out whether or not the vehicle is right for them without wasting your time. Also, post the VIN so that buyers can check it on carfax.
posted by Mark Doner at 10:56 AM on April 28, 2005

When my girlfriend had to sell her Honda Accord, we ponied up the money for an Autotrader ad with 9 photos and "list until it sells". We cleaned her car, took lots of photos, posted the best ones along with a description of her car ("one owner, garage kept, v6" etc.) We listed it $500 over bluebook and sold it in a week (at bluebook). I was very surprised at how quickly and easily the process went; the woman who bought the car had obviously spent a lot of time looking at the photos, so I think taking good photos really helps.

So, yes, I would recommend selling online. Of course, YMMV.
posted by theFlyingSquirrel at 10:57 AM on April 28, 2005

I've sold two POS cars on eBay. It's expensive, about $100 each for my under $1K cars, IIRC, and I'm pretty sure that I got as much as 15% less than the most I could've, but the fact that *if* you manage the process to reduce the chance of non-paying bidders, at a defined time the car was sold. No waiting around for people to show up, etc.

If you go this way, my advice is to thoroughly describe the car especially faults, post many high detail pictures of exterior and interior, specify that <5 FB bidders MUST get your approval to bid, and ruthlessly cancel the bids of the FW's who can't read/won't follow directions.
posted by mojohand at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2005

Craigslist rocks.

Be honest about the car (or whatever), be descriptive, post good pics. Answer questions honestly and in a timely manner. Don't try to "sell" the car, if it's at a fair price the car will sell itself if there's any market for it.

My GF and I bought an ancient but tanklike (and oh so nerdy) 87 Tercel wagon from a guy on CL, and it was just what we were looking for, it was locally available, and it was a totally no-hassle transaction.

He originally was asking $800, but knocked it down to $600 after he couldn't get it to pass smog. We paid cash. We fixed it and got it to pass with only a little hassle, and it's still running strong after adding 10k+ miles to the 150k it already had.

Of course, YMMV. Trust your instincts when it comes to buyers, get cash, etc. Again, if you price it fairly, someone will most likely be able to afford it in cash, and soon.

Craigslist isn't really a place to try to make a huge profit, despite a lot of the scumbags who think they can.
posted by loquacious at 12:44 PM on April 28, 2005

I sold my 2000 Honda on craigslist in a matter of hours. Was a great experience.
posted by terrapin at 1:27 PM on April 28, 2005

I purchased my $700 1986 Ford Bronco from craigslist earlier this year and was very pleased with the experience - like loquacious said, it was exactly what I wanted. My advice, if you do sell it online, is to do the pictures out the wazoo as mentioned by others and set the price reasonably.

I am most concerned by your statement that you have to sell it as quickly as possible for as much as possible - these are difficult things to reconcile. I'd suggest you go over to and punch it up into the calculator and expect to get 10% less. Incentives on new stuff are so so SO strong now and it has seriously hurt the used resale market.
posted by phearlez at 2:08 PM on April 28, 2005

I sold a full sized GM custom van on Ebay to a guy in England. He paid somebody to pick it up and trailer it to Jacksonville for shipping from there. No problems.
posted by wsg at 2:18 PM on April 28, 2005

So lots of pictures and a fair price is the consensus and it looks like craigslist is worth trying first. By "have to sell it as quickly as possible for as much as possible" I meant that I can't afford to wait around to get absolutely the last possible penny out of the truck nor can I afford to hand the keys to the first passerby with a shiny nickel. Thanks all.
posted by TimeFactor at 4:27 PM on April 28, 2005

EBay can also work wonders. My lab director bought a 2001 Jaguar off EBay without ever seeing it in person (we're in Athens- the seller was in Florida) and it works beautifully. But, with all else EBay, pay attention to the seller. The person she bought it from was already very highly rated for selling cars...I wouldn't recommend buying a car off EBay from someone with no record especially because getting to see the car before the transaction can be very difficult.
posted by jmd82 at 9:30 PM on April 28, 2005

I recently bought a car via, which doesn't help you much except that I found the research process far more convenient than trying to look through the newspaper and ended up giving up completely on the newspaper and concentrating on the web. My guess is that a process which is easier for buyers is advantageous for sellers also.

Take good pictures and include as many as you can with the ad. I brushed off lots of cars because I couldn't get a "feel" for them from the photos.
posted by dg at 10:26 PM on April 28, 2005

Followup: I sold the truck via craigslist in less than a week for a little less than Blue Book private party amount, which I was very happy with. I posted a few pictures and was honest about the truck's condition (including posting a collage of dents and scratches). The first person to look at it bought it.
posted by TimeFactor at 4:37 PM on April 23, 2006

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