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Selling A Car Online: Two Separate (But Easy) Paths

It wasn’t exactly simple to sell your car in the past. Maybe you’d stick a For Sale sign in the window and hope for the best. Maybe you’d drive it around to public places in hopes that someone would copy the number and schedule an appointment. Or take it to a dealer thinking that they’d offer you some serious cash or a decent trade-in offer.

If you were in a big city or shopping during a particularly competitive buyer’s market, you might get lucky. But you might be more likely to have buyers break multiple appointments and dealers turn up their noses. Today, technology has opened up a whole new world. You already know that you can sell your car online, so the question is what’s the right way for you? Well, you basically have two options: online car buying services or listing sites.

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Listing Sites: Pros And Cons

There’s no end of listing sites out there where you can list the details of your vehicle and then wait for people to respond:

  • Cars.com
  • Autotrader
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • eBay Motors
  • CarGurus
  • Vroom
  • TrueCar

And this is really just the start of all the options. Some sites specialize in the types of cars they list. So if you had a perfectly restored Ford Mustang from the ’60s, you could connect with collectors on specialty car sites like Hemmings.

There are a few perks of going with a listing site, with the biggest one being that you might make more money with this method. No matter what kind of car you’re selling, you’ll get a wider audience when you list online. This kind of cross-section of buyers can end up with a bidding war, especially if you’re in a place with a lot of car buffs.

People want cars for all kinds of different reasons. Maybe they’re hobbyists who need the parts, maybe they want an older car for their kids to practice driving. Things like social media can even attract people who weren’t originally even thinking about buying a car. At the very least, your social media buddies might mention your car to someone who is in the market for a new vehicle.

Of course, the disadvantage of these listing sites is that some will charge fees for their listings, which can eat into your profits (especially if you’re selling an older or junk car). Another disadvantage is that they can inspire flaky or even dangerous people to reach out to you. Always schedule your meeting point in a public place that has a few cameras on the premises — even if you have to tow your old car to get it there.

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Online Car Buying Services: Pros And Cons

A car buying service doesn’t wait to find a direct buyer for your car. Instead, they buy your car for cash outright and then work out the details afterward. Some car services will arrange for pick-up so you don’t have to worry about whether your clunker will start.

The major pros of this service are that you don’t have to invest much of your time and energy. With a listing site, you essentially have to market your car. This means taking the photos, cleaning out the interior, setting the appointments, interrupting your day to keep said appointment. Some people look at this as a fun project and they love the art of negotiation. But others would prefer to skip the hassle — especially if the car’s not worth all that much to begin with.

The right online car buying service will take care of the details from start to finish. When people rave about these online listing sites, it’s usually because they received excellent customer service. If they had questions, they got answers right away. The logistics were worked out well in advance, and if there was a hiccup along the way, the service did everything they could to fix the problem.

The major con of this option is that scrap metal prices aren’t exactly flush right now, meaning your vehicle might not be offered very much if it’s on the older side. Once, it was quite possible to sell a junk car for $500; now, not so much. But if you’ve been meaning to get around to listing your car for a while now and you still haven’t, this service is worth its weight in gold just for the sheer convenience aspect of it.

No matter how you choose to sell your car, there are easy ways to get started. And while selling your car to a private dealer through an online listing site may take more effort, it could also end up with hundreds of dollars extra in your pocket. But if the thought of endless back-and-forths with lowball buyers makes you exhausted before you even get started, it might be time try a car buying service.

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