Auto Classifieds - What are the Benefits? Do They Work?

By: Jay Gaulard

That's a pretty good question. For as long as I have been alive (and that's 34 years), I have seen used car for sale ads at every corner. These days, it's one of the most popular online classified genres, not to mention being very popular with newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

Let me start this off with a short story. I had an auto related experience a few months ago.

In early January of this year, I was in the market for a new car. Since I have driven a Honda Accord as my two previous cars and a Honda Prelude as the one before that, I pretty much knew what I was going to buy. I dabbled with the thought of getting a BMW 5 Series, but I wasn't ready for something so expensive. Maybe I'll get the Beamer next time.

On January 3, I visited my local Honda dealer and was quite ready to drive home in something new. That day, I drove on the lot in a 1998 Honda Accord V6 and was planning on driving off the lot in a 2008 Honda Accord V6. Obviously, I was going to trade my car in. Before my trip to the dealer, I looked up the value of my 1998 Accord on KBB. They valued the car at around $3,500. I was slightly shocked, because I thought the car was worth more than that. I mean, this was my baby. This was the car I had taken such good care of over the years. But, if that is what the car was valued at, who was I to argue?

Upon choosing the make and model of the Accord I wanted to purchase, I entered negotiations with the salesperson. I was told that the dealership would give me $1,500 to trade in my 1998 Accord. As you could imagine, I got red in the face and threatened to walk out. They raised the price to $2,000, but I still argued for a bit. After a while, I realized they weren't going to budge from that price, so I caved. Sound familiar? Has something like this ever happened to you?

Now, can you guess what everyone said to me after I told them of my experience? I'm sure you can. They said, "You know, you could've gotten a heck of a lot more money for your car if you had sold it yourself." Gee, really? Of course I could've. I mean, everyone knows that dealers don't give you as much as the car is worth. Why is that? It's because of all the costs associated with prepping a car to sell on their lot. If it's an older car, they can't even sell it and it goes to auction. To be honest, I am not even sure what the dealerships do with some of the cars they take as trade-ins. I have heard stories about people getting $1 for the car they gave to the dealer.

So, I'll admit that I could've made more money if I had sold my car privately. The question is why I, and so many others, lose money to trade their cars in. The answer to that question probably has something to do with convenience. We don't want to deal with the hassle of a private sale.

Is selling a car privately a hassle? Not anymore. As I stated above, we already know about the popularity of classifieds sections in newspapers and magazines, but with the advent of websites devoted completely to online auto classifieds, things have gotten much easier. Gone are the days of having to wait until Monday morning to catch a customer service representative on the phone to place your ad. You can now access an auto classifieds website any time you want, from the comfort of your own home. You can write a description, upload a photo, add any features you want and pay by credit card within a matter of minutes. Some websites even offer the entire service for free. Either way, your ad will be live when you are finished. It will also be accessible to anyone from anywhere.

Now that we have that cleared up, let's go over some of the benefits of selling your used car online:

- Convenience. Auto classified websites offer "any time, any place" type of convenience.

- Reach. By place your car ads online, you will virtually be reaching buyers across the globe. Too many people? Don't worry; these websites have tools to narrow down a potential buyer's search.

- Account management. You can place, edit and delete your ad any time you wish with your own private account management tool.

- Popularity. These days, more and more buyers are turning to the web to search for their new rides. Many of them don't even (and never have) read the newspaper.

- Multiple ads. Many auto classifieds websites allow sellers to place multiple ads, oftentimes for a discounted price, or for even no cost at all.

- Help. Many websites have online tutorials or help pages that assist you in selling your car.

- Multiple venues. When you advertise your car on one classified website, oftentimes your ad will show on related websites as well. It's these "viral" relationships that get much more exposure for your ad.

As you can see, there are many benefits to placing your used car for sale online. Do the online ads work? Well, that first depends on the ad itself. If you write a strong description, show a good photo and offer a fair price, I wouldn't see why not. If everything is lined up, I would think you would have a successful sale within a matter of days or weeks.

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