Are Their Good OnLine Ways To Look For a Used Car Besides Craig's List?
August 18, 2019 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I would like to purchase a used Honda CRV. For me, Craig's List is a crap shoot. My current resources are such that I would to like to have a vehicle as fully vetted as possible before I see the owner. I am looking for a better on-line alternative.
posted by goalyeehah to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was very pleased with my experience buying through Carmax last year.
posted by gnutron at 7:23 AM on August 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

CarMax and carvana
posted by Jacen at 7:39 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've seen good listings on facebook marketplace.
posted by sammyo at 7:46 AM on August 18, 2019 seems to be an aggregator of dealer listings.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:47 AM on August 18, 2019

I have bought and sold through CarMax several times ... always had a good experience and never had any trouble with the vehicle later. I know I'm paying a certain margin for that, but it's far from usury and the ease and peace of mind are worth it to me.

You can search their whole inventory online in a very detailed way, and (for a fee) they will transfer a car for you from any of their locations around the country.
posted by mccxxiii at 8:19 AM on August 18, 2019

I’ve sold a car on Facebook Marketplace before.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:24 AM on August 18, 2019

another vote for carmax.
posted by EllaEm at 9:06 AM on August 18, 2019
posted by SyraCarol at 9:06 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

another new player in this space is
posted by dum spiro spero at 9:21 AM on August 18, 2019

I had great luck buying a Volvo through an auction. I did it through a dealer who had access.
posted by waving at 9:34 AM on August 18, 2019

Autotrader is the industry standard platform, in my experience, for dealer inventories at least.
posted by spitbull at 11:36 AM on August 18, 2019

Also it is conventional wisdom across the enthusiast automotive internet that CarMax charges a healthy premium for the convenience they offer, as in 10-20%. Comparing CarMax prices to both private listings and Autotrader listings tends to confirm that. No hassle is the pitch. Pay more for it up front is the wagon. CarMax does absolutely nothing differently than any used car dealer from other perspectives, acquiring many of its cars by auction and doing nothing unusually intense to recondition them. I too know people who have had good experiences with carmax, mostly people who aren’t into cars. The critical step in any used car purchase — dealer or private, CarMax included, is insisting on a professional pre-purchase inspection, which will cost $100-200 usually. If a seller balks at this, walk away. They have something to hide or their price is too high or both. You can book PPIs now with mobile services that come to the lot or private seller, if they object to letting the car out of their control. I’m not sure how this would work with a service like Carvana, but they have a free return period so you can get it done after delivery I guess, but that’s a PITA if your mechanic discovers a reason to send the car back.

Never ever ever buy used without a PPI. Period. The horror stories are legion. There are no honest dealers and few individuals sell cars for reasons that don’t include something being wrong with the vehicle.

Jalopnik’s Tom McParland runs a professional car searching and negotiating business. He writes frequently and very smartly about how car stealerships work, and strategies for not getting hosed buying both new and used cars. For example, “How Not to Buy a Used Car.”
posted by spitbull at 11:45 AM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also be aware that among professionals, the CarFax report, now so fetishized by consumers and eagerly offered up by dealerships, is a whole lot of marketing bullshit (like “JD Power Awards,” basically bought by manufacturers), and likely to either falsely report damage or maintenance that didn’t happen, or even more likely not to record significant incidents that would give you reason to walk away from a deal. I’ve seen reports that CarFax reports are less than 50% accurate on many cars. They can give you a clear guide to odometer rollbacks and sometimes show a solid maintenance history. But don’t trust it.

Spend the money on a mechanic.
posted by spitbull at 11:51 AM on August 18, 2019

Anecdotally, Carmax is the worst of all possible worlds.

In a world of worlds where buying a car is a horrible experience.

(Specifically, myself and others had Carmax retroactively start a clock on the first email, so a three-day offer starts when you email to inquire about a car, they respond late in the day the next day, and the "three-day" offer is already two days in, they tell you that you have three days to consider X but actually mean the offer ends at 5 p.m. tomorrow.)

(If you show up ready to pay cash, they will be furious but that's true any car-selling/car-financing business.)

The likelihood of people recording comversations may havd improved Carmax.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:17 PM on August 18, 2019

Are you trying to find a good deal from a private seller online, trying to find a good deal from a dealership online, or hoping to conduct the whole transaction online?

If the first, which would be the craigslist corollary, you can either use as I said before, or maybe try EBay motors specifically. Either way it’s worth reading up a little first. Since there will probably be specific gotchas.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:58 PM on August 18, 2019

Oh yes, if you are a cash buyer (the only way to fly) then you’re almost a trash customer to used car dealers (new ones too, but a bit less so). They make almost all their money on financing. So even bringing your own financing can lead to less willingness to accommodate your needs or give you any special price deals.

In your price range, a private seller sale is really by far the most economically smart way to go. You just must do due diligence and get whatever you plan to buy inspected by a professional mechanic. Things will be wrong. Some may be critical, some may be longer term problems coming up. Knowing what they are will help you negotiate a better deal with the seller and calculate what it might end up really costing to buy that car.
posted by spitbull at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2019

CarGuru gives you lots of info.
posted by mmf at 3:00 PM on August 18, 2019

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