Professionals who love automobiles and practice what they preach staff one of the most venerable titles in automotive journalism, Car and Driver. In other words, they take their own advice to heart and implement it for themselves, which is why you can trust their findings. Thus, when Car and Driver names the best used car websites, you can rest assured they’re speaking from firsthand experience, because they’ve used them too.
Let’s take a look.
Bring a Trailer
Emerging seemingly out of nowhere to become the pre-eminent online automobile auction site, Bring a Trailer has a huge following. Part of the site’s appeal is the way it treats the listings like magazine articles. You’ll learn something about the history of the model, as well as that of the specific vehicle in question. Because of this, many people visit the site for its entertainment value too.
Perhaps this is also why Bring a Trailer consistently returns some of the best prices for used cars as well. With that said, your carmust be accepted, rather than presented. One must apply to offer a car on the site. If the application is approved, you’ll pay a $99 listing fee and tender a brace of high-quality photographs as well as all of the pertinent information you can gather about your specific car. A percentage of the purchase price is charged as auction fees when the car sells.
Singlehandedly responsible for decimating the classifieds section of your local newspaper, Craigslist is the 800-pound gorilla of used car sites. This is particularly true if you’re looking for a certain car in a specific area, rather than a particular car wherever it might be found. Though internet based, Craigslist tends to focus searches in your immediate area. However, it can be gamed into casting a wider net with the mobile application BRZO.
A word of caution, though, because the barrier to listing a car on Craigslist is so low, you will encounter scam artists from time to time, so it’s a good idea to be careful. Moreover, because the site enforces no set parameters as far as listings are concerned, you’ll find the quality of information about a car a bit uneven on the site. Craigslist has stopped taking free listings and now charges a nominal fee to counter this, but you should still exercise common-sense precautions.
Looking for the More Traditional Sites?
You might be wondering what happened to the used car sites of which most people have heard such as Autotrader, Cars.com, Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and the like. While many highly credible sources rank these among the best used car websitesas well, it’s important to rememberthatCar and Driver caters more toward automotive enthusiasts who are looking for sports cars, muscle cars, collector cars, and such.
One could argue that eBay Motors is the original online used car auction site. Launched in 2000, just five years after eBay went online, it is certainly one of the longest-lived. Unlike Craigslist, your search can be conducted as widely as you’d like with no help from an outside application.
You can also search by year, make, model, color, and mileage, which makes looking for your dream car much easier to accomplish. Moreover, cottage industries have grown up around eBay motors offering financing, pre-purchase inspections, and shipping to make buying a used car on the other side of the continent easier to accomplish. In addition to auctions, eBay Motors offers opportunities to buy cars at a set amount. Fees are charged based upon the selling price of the vehicle.
A relative newcomer to online auctions, Hemmings has a stellar reputation within the collector car community. Its monthly magazine covering antique and exotic cars has been in publication since 1954. That magazine also includes a classifieds section, listing cars on offer. Its new auction site capitalizes upon the hallowed status of its forebear to radiate credibility.
Like Bring a Trailer, one must apply to offer a car on the site. An in-depth questionnaire about the car ensures its history and condition are well represented, so buyers have a strong idea of what they’re getting. The listing fee is $99.95. As an added bonus, a car gets listed in Hemmings classifieds for free if it does not sell at auction.
Keep in mind,though, that even with all of the failsafe provisionsHemmings, Bring a Trailer, and eBay Motors have instituted, there is no substitute for common sense when buying a used car. Take all of the same precautionsyou’d take in person and you should come out OK.