For basic goods and services, Craigslist is still a magical place. It's incredible that the site started up more than 20 years ago, and it's still going strong. Every day, millions of people buy a bicycle, find a new roommate or land a new job because of Craigslist.
But like any free service, Craigslist has some serious drawbacks. There are plenty of con artists trolling around the listings, and the anonymous format makes for very little accountability. An uncomfortable number of people have gotten scammed, stalked or even killed.
In short: You might not want to sell your car on Craigslist.
Selling your car on your own is a pretty risky business. True, you stand to profit more, because you'll avoid a dealership's fees. But unless you're selling your vehicle to someone you know and trust, these transactions can get sticky without someone to oversee it. You should at least get a lawyer to look over the bill of sale and make sure it's legit.
That said, there are several forums for finding buyers online, and they are quite a bit more secure than Craigslist. Here are three websites that may help you close the deal.
If you plan to list your car on eBay, you should already be adept at using this service, and you should already have a pretty good track record. Merchants accumulate ratings over time, which is why eBay is such a great marketplace for everyday salespeople.
Ebay is helpful because it's free, just like Craigslist, and you'll find a very broad audience. Unlike Craigslist, buyers and sellers aren't completely anonymous, and you can arrange the whole transaction through the website.
Then again, eBay isn't as well known for selling cars, and you might get a lot of misses. Bidding on a car you haven't seen in real life can be a bit of a liability, so it's hard to tell what kind of offer you'll get.
Like Craigslist, Autotrader.com is actually pretty old: The original website was set up in 1997, and millions of owners have sold their vehicles since that time.
Autotrader has won awards and recognition from around the world. You can also read reviews of vehicles, get advice on how to buy and sell a car, and even learn about financing options.
Unlike Craigslist, you're going to have to pay for this one. Because Autotrader specializes in motor vehicles, nearly every customer who visits the site will be looking for that. At the same time, there are countless listings, and it's hard to make your car stick out.
Buying an ad is no guarantee of success, so make sure your car is in great condition and you photograph it from every possible angle.
Autotrader's biggest rival is Cars.com, which is renowned for both its effective listings and thoughtful editorial content.
Cars.com also offers a 30-day free trial, meaning you can advertise your car for a month without paying a penny. You can also choose to upgrade at any time and reap this company's many perks.
According to the website, the average seller will unload a car in four days or fewer. You'll still have to work out payment and delivery yourself, but if all goes well, you'll be riding into the sunset.