Used cars online – finding or buying?

It really is all about the imagery these days if you want to sell your used car online and sales rely on multi-image technology and in more and more cases car “showreels”. The improvement in the quality of car websites has increased dramatically over the last few years and has now reached the stage where if there is no picture or pictures then there is almost zero chance of the advertisement getting clicked on. Selling used cars online is rapidly replacing traditional forms of marketing such as the motoring sections and classified ads in the local press and with a potential audience of several millions even the smallest of independent car dealers are investing in their own websites. Customers, when buying used cars online are finding that the ease with which they can quickly compare similar models, which fall into their criteria, is an invaluable aid towards making an informed choice and, of course gives them so much more choice than a local newspaper ever could. In a recent survey 76% of the people questioned said they were more likely to buy a used car online now than they were 12 months ago and 81% said they expect to pay less for car on the internet than through a traditional dealer.

The very biggest online used car advertisers such as Autotrader have now signed up almost every franchised car dealer giving the buyer a choice of thousands of cars at any given time and the dealers who use the site access to literally millions of potential customers. There is however a growing belief that although advertising cars online gives buyers a choice of where, with who, and for how much, they would prefer to have the whole process streamlined into a “one stop shop”. With emerging online used car retailing sites such as Autoquake the whole sales process is turned on its head. With traditional online car sales adverts you see a car, decide if you want to go look at it, call up the dealer, make an appointment to view, visit the showroom test drive the car, discuss options negotiate a deal and then revisit the showroom to pay and collect your car! When buying a car online from start to finish such as with Autoquake you see the car you would like, leave a deposit online then proceed to a handover centre to complete the purchase and collect the car or pay a fee and have the car delivered. The success of these kinds of operations depends almost entirely on the accuracy of the information and the transparency of the process. In the emotive world of car sales buyers have been reluctant to contemplate a purchase in this format without a test drive and the ‘showroom experience’ but with price now becoming the biggest factor and the experience proves to be a positive one, then it is surely a medium which can only grow.

We have seen recently that both dealers and private buyers are prepared to buy cars online through auctions such as BCA and Manheim who have both predicted rapid growth in sales and visitors. But in order for this to continue it will be vital for customer confidence that a car offered for sale has a description which is 100% accurate and preferably multiple pictures including interior and exterior shots and any remedial work required. Most customers will happily bid or buy as long as what they have bought is what has been described to them. This is probably why eBay has continued to grow in popularity with buyers who like the thrill of the auction style format but also the confidence of knowing that the seller will only be wasting their time by not properly describing the car .In fact the most successful eBay sellers can crank up their feedback rating by describing the car in every minute detail leaving the customer with no questions to ask and no excuses when it comes to completing the transaction, and the more detail given in the description the more confidence buyers will have to buy a car in this way.

With showrooms becoming more expensive to maintain and manufacturers insisting on standards, increased rent and staff overheads, buying cars on-line will also become more viable to car dealers looking to lower costs, offer customers better deals and still be able to maintain standards. Customers not having to pay for the swanky surroundings and expensive coffee could save money but should not compromise on the service.

We have compiled a list of the leading websites with advertise used cars for sale, whether by online auction, classified ads or direct retailing and we would appreciate any feedback from our reader’s on their experiences using these sites.

Buying used cars online – the list:

PosSiteAlexa Ranking Description
1Yahoo! Autos46/10Classified ads
2ebay motors86/10Online auction
3AOL Motoring255/10Powered by Auto Trader
4Auto Trader376/10Classified ads
5Times Online - Driving447/10Classified ads
6MSN Autos506/10Powered by Auto Trader
7Pistonheads1924/10Classified ads
8Fish4cars3243/10Classified ads
9Five - Fifth Gear4452/10Powered by
10Parkers7624/10Classified ads ads
12What Car10924/10Classified ads
13Exchange and Mart14755/10Classified ads
14Auto Exposure14904/10Classified ads
15All Approved Cars16104/10Classified ads
16VCars16175/10Classified ads
17Auto Express17765/10Powered by Auto Trader
18Car Pages19194/10Classified ads
19Desperate Seller20366/10Powered by

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2 Responses to Used cars online – finding or buying?

  1. used cars ireland August 10, 2009 at 1:42 am #

    Personally I prefer aol autos in the US and autotrader in the UK.

  2. James Trotter April 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I am not sure if everyone one of your readers will be interested, but if they are searching for a new used car and live in the Uk, well they must just like to check out So if you wouldn’t mind leaving this blog comment live I (and perhaps they) would be very grateful. Thank you.

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