Online Car Shopping

Sell My Car Online

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  • Online dealerships are often the fastest and easiest way to sell your car online.
  • You can list a vehicle for private sale on local online marketplaces and classifieds.
  • Listing a car in a private party auto sale usually gets the highest price but can take significantly more time and effort.

You’ve got plenty of options to consider if you’re hoping to answer the question “where should I sell my car online?” Between local online marketplaces, auto auction sites, and internet-based car dealerships, there’s no shortage of places to sell a used vehicle.

To make it easier to discover which option is best for you, our research team conducted an in-depth study of the best places to sell your car online. We carefully examined the pros and cons of different ways to sell your car via the internet, and rated the industry’s top online car dealerships.

How Do I Sell My Car Online?

Selling your car online is a significant financial transaction. How you choose to list your vehicle online and the choices made around the sale could make a difference of thousands of dollars. For that reason, it’s smart to understand some basic details about how to sell your car online.

Sell My Car Online: Quick Guide

Dealers work to make the process of selling a car online as simple as possible. But no matter how easy the platforms make the transaction, being prepared still works to your benefit. Following a few simple steps can help to ensure that you get the best deal on your vehicle.

1. Gather Information About Your Car

To list your vehicle online or to even get an offer, you’ll need to provide some details about the car. You’ll want to have at least the following information handy as you begin the process:

  • Mileage: Make sure to provide the exact mileage on your car’s odometer. Write this number down immediately after checking it.
  • License plate number: Some sites may require you to provide your current license plate number to get a quote. You may also be able to use this in place of your car’s VIN in certain instances.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN): While you can get an offer for your car based on its make, model, year, and other information, the VIN number will help to ensure an accurate quote and could greatly speed up the process.
  • Vehicle details: In addition to basics about the make, model, and year of your car, you’ll also need some more specific information. This includes factors like the trim level, optional equipment, and aftermarket additions on the vehicle.
  • Vehicle history: Any car dealer will pull your vehicle history report, so you’ll want to know that history before you get started. Reports from companies like CARFAX will tell you whether the car has been in an accident, suffered flood damage, or gone through other events that could have affected its value.

2. Find Out Your Vehicle’s Value

You can get an estimate of your car’s value before you list it online. This can help you figure out where to set your price for private party sales and may give you a point of reference for offers from dealerships.

Sites like the Kelley Blue Book allow car owners to get estimates of their vehicle’s value, taking into account current market conditions and your location. Prices vary across the U.S., with car prices tending to sit higher in bigger cities with higher costs of living. Many sites will give you both a private party sale valuation and a trade-in value toward a new vehicle.

How Much Can I Get For My Used Car?

The amount you can get for your used vehicle from either dealerships or a private sale depends on a few factors.

sell my car used car value factors automoblog.net

3. Prepare Your Car To Sell It Online

The better the condition your car is in, the more you’ll likely get for it when selling it online. There are a few simple, inexpensive steps you can take to try and improve the value of your vehicle. To make your car more attractive to potential buyers, consider doing the following: 

  • Deodorizing the car’s interior
  • Cleaning the interior thoroughly
  • Washing and waxing the exterior
  • Cleaning the wheels and removing brake dust

Whether you’re hoping to sell a basic Toyota, Chevrolet, or Nissan or an older luxury vehicle, a quick cleanup will help you to maximize the vehicle’s value.

4. Choose Where You Want To Sell Your Car Online

The companies that let you sell your car online have varying advantages and disadvantages. Consider what’s important to you as you prepare to list or sell the vehicle online.

Are you simply looking to get the most money when selling your car online? Do you want to trade in your current ride for a new car? Are you just looking for the simplest transaction? Interested in car recycling because your vehicle isn’t worth being resold?

The answers to these questions can help you narrow your options down to the ones best suited for your situation. Keep in mind, however, that you can list your car with as many online sites as you’d like. While it’s extra work to consider additional offers, it’s also the best way to make sure that you’re getting a great deal.

5. Compare Offers

Whether you pick an instant cash offer from an online car dealership or a private-sale listing, wait for several offers to come in. Most instant offers from online dealers are good for up to seven days and somewhere between 250 and 500 miles.

Once you have a few offers in hand, carefully compare them. Make sure to consider whether the offers cover taxes and fees or whether you’ll have to pay for those on your own. While the sale price is the primary consideration, you’ll also want to factor in time and convenience as part of the equation.

6. Complete the Sale

Once you’ve decided on an offer, you’ll need to complete the sale. With most online dealerships, this can be as simple as handing over your keys while the other party takes care of the vehicle title, paperwork, and other details. When it comes to private party sales, you’ll have to go to your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) to deal with the car title, registration, and other issues yourself.

Where Can I Sell My Car Online?

When it comes to how to sell a car online, there are a few paths to choose from. Each option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and the method that’s best for you depends on factors about your preferences and specific vehicle.

Local Online Marketplaces

Websites like Facebook and Craigslist allow users to post their cars for private sale in their local market. Sellers and buyers must handle all aspects of the transaction by themselves.

Online Marketplace Pros

  • Free or very cheap listings
  • No need to coordinate car shipping
  • No need for inspection by a dealership

Online Marketplace Cons

  • Higher risk of scams
  • Buyers may haggle aggressively
  • Must handle all paperwork involved

Online Auction Sites

Online auction sites such as eBay Motors allow sellers to list their vehicle and wait for buyers to bid on the selling price. In many cases, sellers can also set a reserve, or “buy now,” price to allow shoppers to make a more immediate purchase.

Online Auction Site Pros

  • Easy to list vehicles
  • May get a high price for used cars
  • Auction and fixed-price sales options

Online Auction Site Cons

  • Auction may not reach the desired sale price
  • Fees can be high, especially for more expensive cars
  • Competing with millions of other users for the same market

Online Car Dealers

In recent years, online car dealers have emerged as a strong choice for people looking to sell their used vehicles. These companies either buy cars directly or work with a network of dealerships to purchase vehicles through a primarily-online process.

Online Car Dealer Pros

  • Fast, easy transactions
  • No haggling or negotiating
  • Companies handle administrative tasks and paperwork

Online Car Dealer Cons

  • May not get the best price
  • Some require travel for inspections and sales

Where Can I Sell My Car for the Most Money?

In most cases, you’ll be able to sell your car online for the most money through a private party sale. Remember that private party sales can be somewhat risky, though, and take far more work on your end.

When it comes to selling your car online to a dealership, our team found that CarMax tends to offer the most money for used vehicles. That may not always be the case, however. It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple dealers to see who actually offers you the best deal. 

Best Dealers To Sell Your Car Online

With the growing number of online car dealerships to sell your vehicle to, our research team conducted a study of the most popular options. Carvana earned the highest score among all providers and was named as the Best Provider if you want to sell your car online.

Online Car DealerOverall RatingAward
Carvana9.0Best Provider
Cars.com8.9Best Options
Peddle8.7Best for Junk Cars
CarMax8.6Top Value
CarGurus8.5Strong Platform
Vroom8.3Easy Process

How We Rated the Best Online Dealers

To provide objective and useful reviews of online car dealerships, our team developed a standardized methodology to study the market. We evaluated each company based on its cost, platform, transaction support, customer experience, and industry reputation. To make the most accurate comparisons, our researchers also developed and employed custom metrics to account for norms within the car dealership industry.

Sell My Car Online: Dealership Reviews

In the following section, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the five best dealerships through which you can sell your car online.

1. Carvana: Best Provider

Carvana is the first name many people think of when they consider online car buying or selling. The company is one of the pioneers of the online dealership model. Carvana’s score of 9.0 out of 10.0 was the highest in our study, earning it this year’s award for Best Provider. 

What We Like About Carvana

Carvana is one of the market leaders in online car sales for a reason. The company has created a user-friendly platform that generates real offers quickly and easily. Beyond the platform itself, Carvana offers a turnkey selling experience that covers the odds and ends of selling your car online. The company can help with car pickups, loan payoff services, and paperwork assistance.

Carvana Pros
  • Free car pickups in most cases
  • Well-designed online experience
  • Real offers in as little as two minutes
Carvana Cons
  • Lower offers than some competitors
  • Not rated by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Read more: Carvana sell my car review

2. Cars.com: Best Options

Cars.com has been in the online marketplace business since 1998. The industry veteran was one of the first to provide a platform for people to buy and sell their cars online. Now, the company has expanded its business model to offer high-quality services that can match its contemporary competitors.

What We Like About Cars.com

With Cars.com, sellers can get an instant offer just as they would from other online dealerships. The company also ranks as one of the top online auto classifieds, so sellers can additionally post listings for private party sales. Having both choices available through Cars.com is a major advantage that many sellers will appreciate.

Cars.com Pros
  • Private party listing option
  • Higher-than-average instant offers
  • Trusted, well-established company
Cars.com Cons
  • No free pickups
  • Must visit local dealer for inspection

3. Peddle: Best For Junk Cars

Founded in 2011, Peddle serves a slightly different market and purpose than the other providers on this list. The company specializes in buying junked, salvaged, or even just very old cars. That means sellers looking to unload a car that other auto retailers might not buy have an option with a similar online experience.

What We Like About Peddle

Put simply, Peddle will buy cars that other companies won’t. Other online dealers typically won’t buy cars that are salvaged or damaged, but many people have cars in those categories that they need to sell. Peddle offers these sellers a way to get rid of their junk cars with an easy online process and home pickups.

Peddle Pros

  • Buys cars in almost any condition
  • Picks up cars from seller’s home or business
  • Very high ratings from customers on the BBB and Trustpilot

Peddle Cons

  • No trade-in opportunity
  • Doesn’t buy leased cars
  • Doesn’t buy financed vehicles

4. CarMax: Top Value

Founded in 1993, CarMax is another veteran of the used car industry. The company is now a significant used car dealer in the U.S. and has added a web platform to allow people to sell and buy cars online. The provider’s competitive purchase prices and widespread availability make CarMax a compelling choice for many hoping to sell their car online.

What We Like About CarMax

Price is typically the most important factor for sellers, and CarMax offered the highest rates for the cars submitted through our secret shopper study. That alone makes the company a strong option for those looking to get top dollar for their vehicle.

CarMax Pros
  • Instant payouts
  • High offering prices on average
  • Trade-in and cash options available
CarMax Cons
  • Requires an in-person inspection
  • Low customer ratings on the BBB
  • Must deliver vehicle to CarMax location

Read more: CarMax sell my car review

5. CarGurus: Strong Platform

CarGurus started out as an automotive community blog, allowing users to review and ask questions about cars, dealerships, and repair shops. Since then, the site has grown into a major player among online automotive marketplaces, offering a wide range of choices for selling and buying vehicles.

What We Like About CarGurus

Along with the tools you’ll need to sell your car online, CarGurus offers many features that competitors lack. The company has maintained its presence as a well-respected automotive blog, providing sellers with a wealth of information. This can help car owners make more informed decisions about selling their car online or buying a new one.

CarGurus Pros
  • Very useful website
  • Free pickup available
  • A+ rating from the BBB
CarGurus Cons
  • No instant payout
  • No trade-in option
  • Lower-than-average instant offers

6. Vroom: Easy Process

Vroom is the youngest company to make our list of places to easily sell your car online. Started in 2013, the online dealer has quickly risen to prominence because of the accessibility of its marketplace and the company’s seamless process, which doesn’t even require a phone call.

What We Like About Vroom

Of every company studied, Vroom may offer the most frictionless experience for selling a car online. The company has a thoughtfully designed interface that can generate an offer in just a few minutes. With free pickups and instant payouts, car sellers can complete the entire process with Vroom without ever leaving home.

Vroom Pros
  • Instant quotes
  • No fees for sellers
  • Easy car selling process
Vroom Cons
  • Average offers
  • F rating from the BBB
  • Low ratings from customers

How To Stay Safe & Avoid Online Scams

While selling a car online is usually safe, there’s always the risk of scams with private party sales. These scams can lose sellers huge sums of money that may be difficult to get back.

Here are a few steps you can take to safeguard against scams when selling your car online:

  • Fill out a bill of sale: While a bill of sale isn’t legally necessary, it’s always a good idea to require one. A bill of sale serves as a contract between you and the car buyer and stands as a legal record of the transaction. If you don’t already have one prepared, you can use this generic template.
  • Meet people safely: If you decide to sell your car online through a local marketplace, you’ll eventually need to meet someone in person to complete the sale. To keep yourself safe, meet in brightly lit public spaces, notify friends or family of your plans, and consider bringing another person along with you for the test drive.
  • Don’t accept wire transfers: Promises of money transfers through wire services such as Western Union are a popular way to scam people. Scammers can fake evidence of a wire transfer to make it appear as though you’ll receive money for your car, while no such transfer actually exists. Require a certified check from a bank as payment.
  • Verify the buyer’s identity: Make sure that the person who’s offering to buy your vehicle is exactly who they say they are. Ask for identification before moving forward with a sale and avoid selling to anyone who seems hesitant or refuses to provide it. A simple phone number or email address isn’t enough verification to move forward.

Sell My Car Online: Conclusion

There’s no simple answer to the question, “where should I sell my car online?” The answer depends on several factors about your selling needs and the type of vehicle you’re listing. Those hoping to offload a scrap car won’t be able to sell to an online dealer, for instance.

If you’re simply trying to get the highest price for your car, selling it online to a private party may be your best option. However, this method involves much more hassle that may not be worth the extra money you make on the sale.

Those looking for a hassle-free transaction may want to turn to an online car dealership instead. While you won’t usually get quite as much money for your car, you’ll save lots of time and energy over the course of the transaction. Carvana was our Best Overall pick among online car dealerships in our recent study, but all of the dealers on this list are worth getting quotes from.

Sell My Car Online: FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions if you’re looking to sell your car online.

What is the best place to sell a car online?

Based on our industrywide study, Carvana is the best place to sell a car online. The company offers a smooth and efficient process that allows sellers to complete the entire transaction from home and get paid quickly.

What is the most profitable way to sell a car?

The most profitable way to sell a car is usually to sell it locally in a private party sale. You can do so by listing your car on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or a local classified advertisement.

How can I sell my car online fast?

The fastest way to sell your car online is to offer it to an online dealership. Companies like Carvana, Cars.com, CarMax, CarGurus, and Vroom provide instant offers for cars and can purchase your vehicle almost immediately.

Who pays the most for used cars 2022?

CarMax tends to pay the most for used cars among dealerships, based on our research. The company offered about 14% more than the industry average in our secret shopper study.

Methodology

In order to help people make informed decisions about where and how to sell their cars, our expert review team is committed to providing precise, accurate, and objective information. For our research, we evaluated each company on the same criteria across the following categories:

  • Cost: Our team conducted a secret shopper study to assess the offering prices of each provider. We also considered any fees or additional costs charged by companies during transactions.
  • Platform: We evaluated each provider’s online platform, rating them based on ease of use, speed, and available options. 
  • Transaction support: Because there are many other steps involved in selling a car online beyond simply listing it and accepting an offer, our team evaluated companies based on their support for transactions, such as whether they require a seller to travel for an in-person evaluation, if they manage loan payoffs, and more.
  • Customer experience: We scoured online reviews on websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot in order to gauge the opinions and experiences of real customers. Our team used proprietary metrics to normalize ratings across the industry in order to assess customer sentiment in context.
  • Industry reputation: To assess their standing within the auto sales industry, we considered each company’s rating with the BBB along with its years of service. We evaluated these factors using proprietary metrics to get a more accurate representation of specific company reputations compared to industry norms.