Best Used Car Sites for 2021

Find the best value when buying or selling a used car

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Whether it's a first-time buyer looking for their first used car to a classic car enthusiast tracking down that rare vintage model, used car sites make the shopping experience simple with detailed searchable listings, car reviews, buyers guides, and more. But used car sites don’t just help buyers find cars; they are a good resource for owners to find a buyer (often multiple buyers) for their used car. 

We reviewed the best used car sites based on reputation, search tools, pricing, buyer’ resources, and more. Here are our top seven picks.    

Best Used Car Sites for 2021

Best Overall : AutoTrader

AutoTrader

AutoTrader

AutoTrader tops our list as the best overall used car site as the most recognized car buying and selling online auto marketplace. Its huge volume of listings and advanced search tool make it the go-to place to buy and sell a car.

Pros
  • Over three million listings nationwide

  • Search filters for nearly any option or feature

  • Car research, financing, and insurance tools

Cons
  • Charges to post a listing

  • Poor vehicle screening process

  • Trade-in restrictions based on location

Founded in 1997, AutoTrader was the first nationwide, online marketplace for new and used cars and is our choice for the best site overall due to its reputation, reach, and abundant research guides. The site hosts three million vehicle listings and offers detailed car reviews, buying tips, finance calculators, and more. Although AutoTrader is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it does have an A+ rating from the organization.

One of AutoTrader’s best features is its advanced search function which makes sorting through its millions of listings much less daunting. Beyond simple make, model, and year, the site offers detailed filters that let users select nearly any search criteria, including gas mileage, exterior and interior colors, transmission type, technology, and more.

AutoTrader also publishes a number of resources for car buyers and sellers. These include comprehensive how-to guides, current car reviews, research and news articles, car payment and financing calculators, and even the ability to apply for a loan and shop for car insurance.

Those who want to sell on AutoTrader, however, will have to pay. The site charges between $25 and $90 which includes three to 30 photos, reports showing how many people have viewed the ad, and simultaneous listings on Kelley Blue Book. Extra features cost $15 to $20 more and include a vehicle history report, premium ad placement, and additional photos. After the initial payment, ads can be renewed for free every 30 days.

Best Basic Option : CarsDirect

CarsDirect

CarsDirect

CarsDirect provides car buyers with an easy way to compare listings from local dealerships. Its uncluttered website, simple search engine, and user-friendly car buyer guides make CarsDirect our choice for the best basic used car site.

Pros
  • Find deals from local dealers

  • Apply directly for no-credit or low-credit loans

  • Fast and flexible customer service

Cons
  • Dealer listings only (no private sellers)

  • Listed prices not always accurate

  • Car down payment may be needed

Similar to AutoTrader which launched the first online car marketplace for private sellers in 1997, CarsDirect launched the first website to help dealers sell directly to customers online in 1998. CarsDirect is owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. which has an A rating with the BBB. It’s our choice for the best basic option because of its simplified search engine and helpful buyer resources.

CarsDirect does more than simply show listings from local dealers, however. It also showcases the best deals in a buyer’s area as well as upcoming seasonal deals and pricing on upcoming models to help car shoppers focus their search.

Although CarsDirect’s search filters aren’t as detailed as AutoTrader’s, the site’s clean results page shows everything a buyer needs to know, including the CARFAX report and a “Check Availability” button that takes shoppers directly to the listing on the dealer’s website. Unlike AutoTrader, however, shoppers can also search for cars by financing deals.

Each listing on CarsDirect features a link to a simple four-step loan application that takes just 60 seconds to complete. CarsDirect then sends the applications to its network of lenders and returns a list of financing options with estimated monthly payments. Shoppers can also click straight through to the dealer’s website and explore financing options with them directly.                    

CarsDirect also offers a number of resources for car buyers, including reviews, car news, videos, reports, and a trade-in valuation tool powered by BlackBook. Users can even save their favorite searches and create email alerts based on the exact type of vehicle or deal they’re looking for.

Best for Classic Cars : Hemmings

Hemmings

 Hemmings

Hemmings is an online marketplace for classic cars and car parts from the 1930s to the 1980s. Its car enthusiasts’ blog, newsletter, and info about local auctions and car clubs make the website a vintage car lover’s dream and our pick for the best website for buying and selling classic cars.

Pros
  • Blog and newsletters for classic car lovers

  • Buy and sell classic car parts as well as cars

  • More affordable than ClassicCars.com

Cons
  • Account required

  • Listing only stay up for three to six months

  • Fewer listings than ClassicCars.com

Originally created as a small four-page car magazine in 1954, Hemmings has become a leading classic car website featuring 20,000 searchable car ads. Combined with a car parts marketplace and tons of classic car resources, it tops our list as the best site for classic cars. The company is not accredited with the BBB but does enjoy an A rating with the organization.  

In addition to serving as an online marketplace for classic cars, Hemmings also has a number of resources for true classic car enthusiasts. These include pricing guides, buying tips, virtual dealer and auction showrooms, as well as a blog, newsletter, and multiple magazines for classic car lovers. 

Although Hemmings’ main rival, ClassicCars.com, has close to 40,000 listings, Hemmings boasts a searchable database of classic car parts for sale as well as its own selection of classic car die-cast models, apparel, books, wall calendars, and more. 

Hemmings offers a number of advertising packages depending on the needs of each seller. Users can post a two-week-long auction listing for $99.95 which includes a professionally written ad, unlimited photos and videos, a dedicated listing concierge, and six months of premium classified advertising.

For those selling outright, Hemmings offers two pricing packages: Silver for $129.95 which includes a small 35-word ad with up to 35 photos, and Gold for $189.95 which includes a large 75-word ad with up to 50 photos. All ads run for one month in the Hemmings Motor News magazine and for six months online.

Best for Mobile : Autolist

Autolist

 Autolist

Autolist is a unique website that collects listings from dozens of used car apps and websites in one place. Its intuitive and easy-to-use app has been downloaded over seven million times and is listed in CNET’s top 10 car apps making it the best used car site for mobile users.

Pros
  • Compiles listings from dozens of sites

  • Top-rated mobile app

  • Fair price comparison tool

Cons
  • No option to place ads

  • No financing tools or options

Founded in 2014, Autolist features over 1.3 million unique site visitors and 400,000 unique monthly users of its shopper-friendly mobile app, making it our choice as the best for mobile. The company is not accredited with the BBB but does have an A+ rating from the organization.

Autolist makes it easy for shoppers to browse millions of used car listings compiled from car shopping apps and dealer websites. Both its website and user-friendly app display valuable information on each vehicle, days on the market, changes in price, and the CARFAX report.

Autolist features a Listimate which compares the price of a specific car to similar listings to make sure shoppers are getting the best deal. Signing up for a free account also lets users set up email alerts for vehicles based on specific search criteria. Autolist also compares quotes from local new car dealers to help shoppers save money when buying a new car.

In 2020, CarGurus purchased Autolist which also allowed owners to sell their cars online with an intelligent tool that calculates a fair asking price for their car based on other vehicles in their area.

Best for Cheap Cars : CarGurus

CarGurus

CarGurus

By combining an online car marketplace with advanced research tools that accurately assess a vehicle’s true market value, CarGurus is our pick as the best used car site for cheap cars.

Pros
  • Advanced pricing tools

  • Question and answer board

  • Advertise cars for free

Cons
  • No vetting of sellers

  • Charges advertisers when their car sells

CarGurus was created in 2006 by TripAdvisor co-founder Langley Steinert to help consumers post questions and reviews of cars and local dealers. The company later added a marketplace to its site with a car evaluation tool that makes it our choice as the best site for cheap cars. CarGurus is accredited with the BBB and has an A+ rating with the organization.   

What sets CarGuru apart from most other online auto markets is that it gives each car a “deal rating” and sorts the results from the best deal to the most overpriced. Since no one can pay to boost their listings, only dealers that consistently offer the best deals will get the best scores.

CarGurus also uses advanced algorithms that compare every detail of a car to similar cars on the marketplace to assess the market value of any vehicle. Combined with information on how long a car has been listed as well as whether its price has risen or dropped over time, this helps shoppers know if they’re looking at a good deal or if they have room to negotiate.       

CarGurus still offers a trove of car reviews and other research tools to help educate and inform car shoppers about the quality of new and used cars. CarGurus also lets owners list their car through its marketplace for free and charges a $99 fee when their car sells. A quick comparison tool helps sellers set a realistic price, and the site’s pre-created fields ensure that the most useful information is included in every listing.

Best for Comparing Options : AutoTempest

AutoTempest

 AutoTempest

Drawing on the databases of most online marketplaces including Craigslist, AutoTraders, and CarsDirect, AutoTempest offers the largest online car marketplace, making it our top choice as the best site for comparing used cars.

Pros
  • Compiles listings from the largest number of sites

  • Smart search pages display targeted buyers guides

  • Car pricing tool helps shoppers find the best deals

Cons
  • Doesn’t vet listings

  • No option to purchase cars online

AutoTempest was developed in 2008 as an aggregator of online classifieds for cars. It tops our list as the best for comparing options since it draws results from the largest number of databases, including Craigslist, eBay, Cars.com, AutoTrader, CarsDirect, Carvana, and more.   

Besides the sheer number of sites it accesses, one of the advantages of AutoTempest is that it can automatically filter listings in your area when possible. For instance, if a shopper is in Chicago, the site will only compile postings in the Chicago area. Users can also just select the sites they want to get results from to fine-tune their search. For example, you can limit searches to just AutoTrader and CarsDirect if you want. 

While AutoTempest may not offer quite as many search options as AutoTrader, it lets shoppers search by basic search parameters as well as mileage, price, Kelley Blue Book value, whether a CARFAX report is available, and more. Searches can also be saved and accessed later from either a web browser or AutoTempest’s mobile app.  

AutoTempest also offers a number of useful resources for car shoppers, including car reviews, buyers guides, checklists, tips for negotiating, and more. Car owners can even sell their cars directly to Carvana through a partnership with the company.

Best Auction Site : Cars & Bids

Cars & Bids

 Cars & Bids

Cars & Bids is an online auction site for cars from the 1980s and newer and is our choice as the best auction site due to its easy listing process, car history reports, and low auction fees.

Pros
  • Low listing and commission fees

  • Every vehicle includes a history report

  • Some listings featured by a YouTube celebrity

Cons
  • No listings for cars made before 1980

  • No financing options available

  • No buyer and seller tools or resources

Cars & Bids was created in 2020 by automotive reviewer and YouTube celebrity Doug DeMuro to help modern car enthusiasts buy and sell cars quickly and safely. The site is our choice for the best auction site because of its ease of use and focus on protecting both buyers and sellers.

Unlike other auction sites which can take weeks to get a seller’s auction live, Cars & Bids gets cars listed as quickly as possible and works with sellers to figure out the best schedule. The site also offers a simple submission process that lets sellers know quickly whether or not their car will be accepted.

In an effort to protect car buyers, Cars & Bids provides a vehicle history report for every vehicle it auctions free of charge instead of asking the seller to pay for one. As a fun bonus, Doug DeMuro will occasionally choose a listing to review bringing extra eyes and buyers to specific auctions.  

Cars & Bids offers lower fees than other auction sites, charging between $49 to $89 per listing and taking a 4.5% buyers fee with a minimum of $225 and a maximum of $4,500. The site also offers a detailed description of its buying and selling process as well as FAQs that walk buyers and sellers through every step of the auction process.

Bottom Line

There seem to be as many used car sites as there are types of used cars, buyers, and sellers. Nonetheless, AutoTrader stands out above the rest due to its long history of selling used cars online and advanced search tools that make it easy to find the perfect car.

For those looking for a simplified shopping experience, CarsDirect lets shoppers compare listings from local dealers without getting overwhelmed while Autolist offers the best mobile shopping experience. And when it comes to price, CarGurus’ unique deal rating helps shoppers find the best value for their money.

For classic car enthusiasts, Hemmings offers a bounty of classic car listings, car parts, car shows, and car talk to satisfy the most diehard vintage car fanatics. Those with an eye for unique cars from the 80s to today will love Cars & Bids’ fast and easy car auctions and reasonable listing and commission fees.

Compare Providers

Best Used Car Sites
Site Why We Picked It Notable Features 
Autotrader Best Overall Most listings plus finance and insurance tools
CarsDirect Best Basic Option Useful buyers guides for car shoppers
Hemmings Best for Classic Cars Marketplace for classic car parts as well as classic cars
Autolist Best for Mobile Mobile-first shopping experience
CarGurus Best for Cheap Cars Value rating finds the best deals
AutoTempest Best for Comparing Options Listings from the largest number of sites
Cars & Bids Best Auction Site Quick listings and low fees

FAQs

How Do Used Car Sites Work?

Used car sites let people either buy or sell used vehicles online. Most offer robust search engines, car history reports, and buying guides to help buyers find exactly what they want. 

Used car sites typically don’t get involved in the transaction of vehicles themselves and rely on connecting sellers and buyers who can make their own arrangements. Many sites also offer market guides and car reviews to help guide buyers and sellers and some even offer financing calculators and partnerships with lenders and insurance companies.    

Do I Have To Pay for a Used Car Site?

Used car sites typically charge sellers who want to post an ad for their car. Our research shows that pricing can be as low as $25 for a basic ad that will run for a month with the cost increasing for additional photos, words, and other advertising boosts.

Due to the nature of the vehicles they sell, car sites that sell classic cars or cars from certain eras charge more, typically around $89 and higher. Auction sites will also take a commission fee which can start at 4.5% of the sales price.     

Can I Trust a Used Car Site?

Used car sites that connect shoppers with private sellers can do little to offer a safe shopping experience. What they can do, however, is provide as much information as possible to help buyers make the most informed decision.

As a result, used car sites typically include CARFAX reports, information about how long a car has been on sale, and pricing comparison guides as well as search filters to help shoppers weed out the choices they don’t want. Sites that aggregate listings from many online marketplaces can typically do little to ensure that the listings they display are trustworthy, and buyers must always do their due diligence when shopping for a car.  

How We Chose the Best Used Car Sites

We looked at over a dozen used car sites for this review and selected sites that either had built a lot of trust through a long history of selling cars or that created safe and personal experiences for shoppers looking for specialty vehicles.

Because buying a used car can be overwhelming, scary, and stressful, we also made sure to choose sites that offered detailed search engines to help shoppers compare the features they most wanted. Sites that offered comprehensive buyer guides and current car reviews topped our list since these resources can help shoppers make informed buying decisions.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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  2. Better Business Bureau. "Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co." Accessed December 14, 2020. 

  3. Better Business Bureau. "Hemmings Motor News." Accessed December 15, 2020. 

  4. CNET. "The 10 best car-buying apps." Accessed December 14, 2020. 

  5. Better Business Bureau. "Auto List, Inc." Accessed December 14, 2020. 

  6. Yahoo Finance. "CarGurus Acquires Car Shopping Platform Autolist." Accessed December 14, 2020. 

  7. Better Business Bureau. "CarGurus, Inc." Accessed December 14, 2020.