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AutoTrader Experiences

melissamelissa Posts: 27
Have you purchased or sold a car from AutoTrader.com? If so, share you story here. Let other consumers know the good and the bad.


  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 28,962
    listed 2 vehicles on there (my 2nd is up right now and has been for 2+ weeks now), and, regardless of the fact that I am the cheapest up there in my area, I have received no responses (both times). I'll let ya know if that changes. But, so far, I'm not too thrilled. I even paid the $5 this time to get preferred listing and the yellow highlight.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    I listed my '95 Mercury mystique a few months ago. First I used the basic freebie, and got no calls. Later I re-posted using the $5 deluxe option, and got a hit, which turned out to be the person who bought it.

    I also had the car in the local paper at the same time, and got a few calls from that, but I may have gotten a few other nibbles from Auto trader.

    The odd thing is the person who found me on Autotrader lives in the town where the local paper is published, so whe just as easliy could have found me there.

    Anyway, I also used AT to find my replacement car. Very handy for guaging the market for a particular model, but it seems to be dominated by dealers. Also, many of the listings are out of date when you call the dealer.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • lambdaprolambdapro Posts: 51
    Be sure and subscribe to the two months of car fax. This is saving me a lot of time with irresponsible parties listing bad mileages on the listings. I do wish that all ads had their VIN. It takes extra time to call and get the VIN from the sellers.

    The nice thing is sorting on years/models. If it had keywords it would be better.

    I am looking for a couple of cars right now that are difficult to find with their algorithm.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    one thing that did bug me was many ads did not specify trans type, on cars that do come with a stick. I assumed no mention meant AT, but couldn't really tell.

    No prices listed also bugged me.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    So what did you end up with???

    Inquiring minds wanna know :)

  • afk_xafk_x Posts: 393
    Using them. I used their freebie ad and it sat there for a couple months and got numerous calls and finally sold it.

    I worded my ad to keep away anyone but serious buyers - as I was in no hurry to sell.
  • lambdaprolambdapro Posts: 51
    I bought a couple of mid 90s Caprice LT1 wagons with 25K and 47K miles using autotrader. They mistakenly had a picture of a minivan instead of a full sized wagon and the seller had not gotten any calls. I was in need of replacing my tired, worthy workhorse wagons. I have ordered one Suburban and have now gotten a couple of low mileage wagons. My wife wanted one new vehicle and maybe two. This way I added a couple of wagons that I hope to fall in love with for about half of the price of another Suburban. I'll post in a month how the wagons are doing. They passed inspection just fine, but you never know.

    I would've bought a new Caprice wagon instead of the Suburban if they still built them.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    I ended up with a '99 Maxima SE 5-speed to tide me over for a few years. Too many factors to go into, but a real nice car, lots of room, for a lot less than a Volvo or the like. I'll deal with the 5-speed resale issue down the road again.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    5-speeds dont punish Maxima SEs badly... not to worry. :)

    Nice car, and easy to resell in Jersey.

    I had been wondering!
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    I didn't have any reason to post more price requests once I got it. Tough car to find with the 5 speed, and I just happened to stuble upon it at the local Lexus dealer.

    After selling my Mystique quickly to someone who only wanted a stick, I know that the cult is out there. Not a lot of people want them, but look out if you find one that does.

    And the Max might not be a Jag, but a heck of a step up from the Mercury. Plus I have money in reserve for a toy down the road.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • qwallsqwalls Posts: 406
    It was in great condition, and only 35k miles. A dealer offered me $11k as a trade in. I listed it for $15,499, and got one call in a week. After lowering my price to $14,999, I got a call about every other day. I sold it two weeks later for my asking price. I got the $30 "run until it sells, bold, etc." package.
  • photog0264photog0264 Posts: 314
    I am in a NO-Hurry look and see whats out there mode for a high mileage under $5k used Station Wagon or hatchback. Following a recent buying fiasco for my current new car I vowed I wouldn't visit two or three dealerships ever again. Alas they don't list the dealers by name.

    It would be nice to have an E-mail only generated quote system as well. As it is I usually just give a phone number with no phones attached to it...
  • scottdudescottdude Posts: 177
    I've had a basic ad up for a couple months and have not gotten any responses. It would be nice if they ran the ad in the Auto Trader magazine too. I'll bet more people read that.
  • mtwallacemtwallace Posts: 28
    ...to 75 miles. I was looking for a Corvette, and there weren't many locally in the price range and age I was looking for.

    I ended up buying one from someone who had ONLY advertised in AutoTrader. I got the feeling it had been on the market for several months, and the seller told me he had gotten very few calls and no lookers. Still, he optimistically proclaimed "the car is so nice, all I need is to get one person to see it and drive it, and they will buy it."

    I saw it, I drove it, I bought it!
  • cbyrnecbyrne Posts: 1
    I had been checking Autotrader for the car I would like to buy, but I became annoyed with dealerships that continue to post ads for cars they no longer have. I've had this happen twice and the ads are still online (over a month later).
  • abtsellerabtseller Posts: 291
    as well, and find that they are very slow to update their listings. Its frustrating from a seller's point of view, that's for sure.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I sort of fished my 89 VW Golf with a free 'basic' ad, got a few calls but no buyers. I think an ad with a picture makes all the difference. I just bought my second or third car by using autotrader, I think the site is great. I do wish they would:

    -list the VIN of all cars
    -require that seller list mileage and transmission type on all 'pay' ads (this would reduce everyone's bother)
    -list the city/state of all ads (doing a search on an area code is an extra PIA)
    -remove the ad PROMPTLY when the car sells (I've called about MANY cars on AT that sold weeks or months ago)

    That said, I haven't seen another venue that does a better job than they do. I live in a big used car market (Chicago) and our local newspapers and other websites with similar missions don't compare.
  • ravvie4meravvie4me Posts: 110
    -Have it required that the owner list the engine type (4-cyl, V6, V8, etc...), especially cars like Camry, where 4-cylinder and V6 engines are available. (ie if someone doesn't want a 4-cylinder Camry, he or she can skip over the ad)

    -If it's a truck or SUV, have it required to list 2WD or 4WD

    (and if possible, put those options (4WD, V6, etc...) in the search, too)

    It would save alot of time for Auto Trader viewers and buyers in finding the right car. Otherwise, AT is pretty good.

  • pondviewpondview Posts: 22
    If you are REALLY trying to sell your vehicle, for heavens sake, pay the $30-50 and advertise the thing right. Those freebie listings are a total joke. I can't believe that there are people are there tring to sell $15,000 vehicles and don't won't to spend $40 to advertise correctly. Talk about cheap..
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 28,962
    Can you tell me what the "correct" way is? Cause I've tried every avenue in my 12 years and 20+ cars of experience and have yet to find one way that works better than any other (including spending money on ads). My best results have come from parking it near the street. And that costs me nothing aside from the paper I printed the sign on.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 54-car history and counting!

  • pondviewpondview Posts: 22
    That would depend on what kind of street you live, lol.

    corrrectly to me means local paper, Autotrader magazine(or similar mag. in your area), internet, word of mouth, flyers, ect ect.

    Basically, if you really want to sell a vehicle...get the word out there in as many places as possible.....and most important, price the car right, don't list at what the dealers are listing at. Listing solely in the freebie section of autotrader.com is not going to get the job done. IMHO
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ........ The biggest problem is -- people don't "Present" their vehicle. They just run a little 2 or 3 liner, it looks like everyone else's, the buyer's get bored into a coma after the 2/3 line, and off they go to the Vegas style ad by ABC Dodge ....

    This is what -0- bucks gets you: -0-

    This is what 15 bucks gets you:

    1997 Buick Regal, low miles, all power.
    $7,900 call Bob. XXX-xxx-xxxx

    This is what $40 bucks gets you:

    *1997 Buick Regal LS*, 39,000 original miles.
    V6, power seats, power windows, cruise, tilt, CD
    Adult driven, garaged and professionally
    Maintained, looks new, drives new. *Must see
    must sell* $7,900 call Bob. XXX-xxx-xxxx

    Call me silly ... Call me stupid, but I think one ad, in the major newspaper, will do volumes more than hanging signs or waiting for the next "phone book" from the Auto-trader. But, it's your dime ...

  • mackabeemackabee Posts: 4,709
    I agree with Terry. Back in 1985 I put an 81 Toyota Celica in the autotrader. It sat there for 3 weeks, in the meantime my ordered 85 Toyota Mini-van was due in. I got on the phone and called the San Diego Union/Tribune and placed an ad that read something like this:
    Beautiful silver blue Celica in excellent condition. 5spd manual transmission, a/c, am/fm cassette, alloy wheels, 39K miles, one owner, all service/maintenance records. New baby forces sale! $xxxx or best offer. Call xxx-xxxx up to 7pm.
    I placed the call on a wednesday, ad came out friday morning, car was sold Saturday morning. Best $39.95 I've ever spent.
                             : )
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,350
    Also, an ad in the local paper will get a lot more SERIOUS callers.
  • leomortleomort Posts: 451
    I just bought a '99 Chevy Prizm via an AutoTrader.com ad. Went through about six different dealers before settling on two to actually visit. Found and bought the car I was looking for in two weeks. I tried looking at the want ads in the local papers. Never found what I was looking for or just priced too high.

    But I also agree that some of the advertisers there do not post what tranny or what mileage or the vin# which can be aggravating. I was fortunate in that only one dealer I called about in their ad was already gone.

    Overall, not a bad buying experience. I'd use it again.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,350
    About the VIN number?

    when they don't post the tranny, you can bet it's a stick. If they don't list the miles they are probably high.
  • leomortleomort Posts: 451
    Hi isell,

       Well because, with vin# you have the option of doing a carfax. This might bring up a red flag and save you some $$$.

      The other two I have to agree with you in that it usually means that they're purposely avoiding stating it due to high mileage or an "undesireable" tranny. Although price usually reflects the high mileage.

      BUT from a customer's perspective it would allow me to narrow my search or at least keep me from wasting my time on what would otherwise be consider dead lead(s).


  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    In some cases, I think people assume everything has an AT, so they don't bother to put it in. Unless I see stick indicated, I figure it is an AT, although sometimes they are mis-labelled.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,820
    What Leo said.

    You're right with the miles, usually, but the AT often gets forgotten... of course, every Taurus will proudly state: "Automatic, V6" or, my favorite: "3.0 V6" (of course, but which one!???) and "highway miles".
    Don't' get me started.

    BTW, you often have the attitude, "why would you care", or "this is no big deal" with used cars. I think it's because you don't deal with the used-car market much, and because you work at a stand-up store... so your used cars are likely to be in good shape.

    You ought to try hitting the pavement looking for a $2k car sometimes... it's a jungle out there! My typical "phone interview" with a seller lasts easily 10-15 minutes.. I've learned how to get a feel for them and their car over the years... but there's a reason I haven't bought a jalopy in a long time. It's really aggravating...

    So I'm with Leo on this one.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,350
    I just didn't understand why the VIN number would be important. I wasn't thinking about using CarFax. I too, have bought many a beater over the years. I got pretty good at sorting through the ads and interviewing people. There were certain phrases that wouuld scare me.

    " The body is in good shape for it's age"

    "It probably could use a tune up"

    " It runs a little rough...it just needs to be driven"

    I bought quite a few cheap old cars and helped a lot of friends do the same. This is probably what led me to the car business when I found myself on the short end of corporate downsizing.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...when doing a phone 'interview' about used cars, especially beaters, it's important to ask specific questions. Vague questions like 'How's the body?' is going to be answered with an equally vague, it not completely misleading answer. Though I can't exactly call most of my car ownership experiences great, I do usually prepare a list of a few questions for each car (especially those seemingly avoided in the ad like mileage and transmission type) and jot down responses while I'm on the phone. I do think it helps.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,820
    be careful what you ask for... cut&paste following.

    "How To Make The Phone Call

    So you pick up the phone and say this: Hi, my name is X, I’m calling about your ad in the paper. At that point, they’ll either start talking about their Prizm, or they’ll say – and this happens rather often – “Which one?” If they’re also selling a toaster oven, fine. But if they’ve got more than one car for sale, beware. Your job is to figure out if you’re talking with an individual selling their own car, or a dealer selling cars while posing as a private owner. This practice is called “curbstoning” and is often used to unload undesirable cars. I will not deal with someone like that as a matter of principle. Why bother? There are plenty of nice cars out there.
    Next, start asking questions. How long have they had the car? How does it drive? What’s the gas mileage? Get them talking. Ask if the title is in their name. Are they the first owner? Did they have any trouble with it? Has the car been smoked in ($500 hit) or do they have a dog? Dog smell is all but impossible to remove. Where did they go for service? Did they get the recommended service done? And a big one: Has the car ever been in an accident? Has it had any paint work done? A $1000 fender bender with subsequent dent work and repaint will lower the value of a newer car by at least $1k. A $5k accident with frame damage lowers the value of the car by 40% or so, even if it is perfectly restored – this is a fact that few people are aware of. No sense in buying a car that will give you a BIG headache when you try to sell it two years down the road. Even if there were just some scratches, the fact that paint work was done brings up question marks that lower the value of the car. If you ever need any paint work, better keep all the documentation.

    Always ask this question: May I ask how you figured out your asking price? Wish I’d’a thought of this one sooner. This gives me ammunition for later use; every time I ask it I get information that is useful.

    When interviewing people about their cars, use your imagination. If you’re buying an SUV, van, or truck, don’t ask “Has this vehicle been used to tow heavy loads”? Instead, tell them you’re interested in using the vehicle for towing a travel trailer or some such, and ask about their experience. If they get all gushy about how well their F150 pickup dealt with their 4,500 lb. fishing boat every weekend, you can either start saving for a new transmission or go and buy something else."

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    One more reason to just buy a new car, and keep it for a long time, doing the maintenance, etc.

    Some wise (person? [non-permissible content removed]? can't remember who it is, but I'm leaning toward person) in town hall likes to say "everyone drives a used car" which is true, but the best used car is one where you know how it was driven and maintained. And I don't even like to let my wife drive my car since I don't know how she is treating it.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    wonder if AT will be at all useful for a free ad for my Miata.

    Anyone have advice on the best place to list something like a Miata?? Maybe a board they can share (I never joined any other ones when I got the Miata). Just looking for something beyond the local paper, and short of Ebay.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I think AutoTrader is a pretty good place to put an ad, a lot more people know about it now and most households (at least those in the market for a Miata) have computers and internet. The nice color picture tends to whet the appetite of potential buyers, too. Conversely, I think eBay is a decent place for collector cars, but I can't imagine why someone would buy something that's easily available locally (your average newer car) from a buyer halfway across the country, unless the price and/or condition of the car were absolutely phenomenal.

    There 'technically' IS a way of listing a car on AutoTrader.com for free, but it's an absolutely-no-details kind of ad (smaller, at the end of all other ads for cars of similar description, price and phone number only, no picture, no mileage, no color, nothing). At best this will get you too many lookie-lous or a bunch of calls that will go nowhere because of the cars details (mileage, transmission, color) that aren't described in the ad, or worse, will get you no response at all. Serious ads get serious response; I'd spend a little money, weed out those for whom the car isn't right and attract the real potential customers.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I've had numerous experiences with calling or e-mailing sellers of ads on AutoTrader, only to discover some of the vehicles had sold literally MONTHS before. Apprently if you purchase the 'til it sells' type of ad, unless the seller contacts autotrader, it will sit on the website indefinitely. Very irritating. Of course, if the seller is too lazy to contact them and thus avoid the phone calls, I guess we can't blame AutoTrader, now can we?
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... ** will sit on the website indefinitely. Very irritating. **

               Good point, but most of it is ego .. I've had customers tell me that they sold their vehicle in 2hrs and got $2,000 over the retail *asking* price .. then come to find out it was in the ad for 6 weeks and they got handed $3,000 under the asking price - ego my friend, ego .................... :)

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...why would someone tell me (a potential buyer) that the car had sold several months before if they still had it for sale?

    What I mean is, sellers forget to contact AutoTrader when their car sells, then it can sit on the website for months. It's a pain. I think they should put the date the ad first ran somewhere in the ad, and perhaps let the sellers log on to cancel the ad when it sells.
  • qwallsqwalls Posts: 406
    I believe "run till it sells" ads drop off after 60 days unless you renew them.
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    Speaking from my own current experience trying to sell my '98 Mustang, the last ad you wrote would run about $100 in the local paper. They're prices are $45 for an itty bitty 3 line ad running 3 weeks and $10 for each additional line. So to run a super ad like you mentioned, would probably be upwards of $100. The ad I posted with them cost me $65 and I only got a couple calls. Don't think we even got to the negatives about my car (18" wheels and dual flow masters) that we've talked about in "Real World Trade In".
    I tried running a super ad in autotrader but was limited to about 200 characters. After posting the basics and options, hardly enough room for things like "new brakes, maint. up to date, carfax report, must sell, etc. etc." And that cost me $55 for 12 weeks. The last time I checked, there were about six other 98 Mustangs similar to mine within 100 miles, mine is priced near the bottom of the price range, so far one call, and that was a no show. I think I'd go hungry if I were a car salesman....LOL.
    My last resort will be ebay. I can post an absolutely super ad with a great description and lots of pics for less than $45. If I get a bid I'm looking for, there's another $40 charge.
  • mybuymybuy Posts: 42
    I wasn't sure where to put this question, so if there is a better forum for it, please let me know. I'm selling my 02 Astro AWD on Autotrader. My first serious buyer lives in the UK now and will be moving back to Montreal where he wants the van shipped. This is the first time I'm selling on the internet, so I have a lot of questions about how to get the money (certified check, I'm sure) and then hand over the title in a way that is trustworthy for both parties + now has the added complexity of shipping across the Canadian border. Any guidance or suggestions of where to look for other advice this would be appreciated.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ........ There is a lot of "I live in Nigeria, and I will pay you double" .. "I'm in the UK and I'm moving to the States and I will give you a check for $25,000 and you give me the rest back" .. and unfortunately Ebay just plugged with a $900,000 settlement because of internet fake bids ... I'm sure there will be many more posts on this subject .. me, I have to drink coffee and watch my favorite cartoons.

                  You have to VERY careful these days ....

  • mybuymybuy Posts: 42
    Thanks for the heads-up. That's why if this looks legit, I want to be extra careful with working out the details. He did send both his London and Montreal addresses with his inquiry, though I will try to double check if those are legitimate addresses too. As you point out, the internet has lots of possible pitfalls as well as opportunities. Thanks!
  • mybuymybuy Posts: 42
    It appears that my UK/Canada based potential buyer is a relative of all the Nigerian-based scams. They has received a large refund check from another deal that had fallen through, and their "agent" would deliver the large check to me, and all I needed to do was hand over the title and the $8100 difference between the refund check and the price of my vehicle. Yeah, right! I sent Autotrader an e-mail about this potential fraud. Who else should I report it to? Seller Beware!
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 41,328
    Frankly, an Astro is not a particularly rare or expensive item. No way it could be worth the time/expense to ship it, etc. like this (assuming it was a legitimate deal). It would have to be much asier to just find one in Canada (it's not like Montreal isn't a big place with lots of cars).

    Maybe on a rare or exotic car it might be worth it, but not a basic domestic.

    I wonder how many people actually fall for this scam? Somebody must, or they wouldn't keep trying.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • I just got scammed from an internet "sale". After some E-mails we agreed on a price. I received a cashiers check from a stateside bank and was asked to forward some funds to the shipper, which I did. Later I was asked to forward a little more and another cashiers check was sent, and received, by me. The checks are stolen or couterfit and the account numbers are bogus. This is a Nigeria scam, that we have heard about. Cost me $3700...Take wire transfers only and make sure they are cleared by the bank before doing anything else.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsPosts: 11,114
    Ouch! I'm really sorry to hear that you got taken like that, but thanks for sharing your story. We'd all like to believe the best in people, and with a cashier's check, you tend to figure it's the same as cash.

    It sounds like you're wiser, and I sure hope you've recovered from the loss.

    Roving Host & Future Vehicles Host


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  • qwallsqwalls Posts: 406
    Sorry to hear that. I got several of these emails when I sold my car this past July. My "buyers" tended to go away when I told them I would only accept a check for the exact amount of the sale, and I had to approve the bank it was drawn on. Goes without saying to confirm the validity of the check with the bank. After 3 or 4, changing my ad to read "US buyers only" helped, and I only got one more bogus email. I got pretty good at spotting the bogus emails. For someone about to spend over 20k for a used car, they just weren't asking the right questions.
  • I can have my friend / sales mgr run it so I can see EXACTLY what options are on the car, as well as the service history that the mfr has captured. If I'm really interested in the car he can run a carfax for me as well. This worked well for me this past year. I can also guess the mfg date off the VIN on certain cars so I can approximate the amount or remaining warranty the car has. There's lots one can do with the right tools and contacts.
  • Dislikes:

    1. dealer name, city and phone numbers not listed on main search results page: an annoyance, but i can click through - usually. (I think this falls under traderonlines area of responsibility)

    2. mfr certified cars not showing up as such (probably listers fault)

    3. Irrelavent "option" info (definately listers fault. This is what I mean, an endless list of cars all with the following "options" leather seats, alloy wheels, V6, auto trans, power windows, AC, etc, ad nauseum when ALL OF THIS is STANDARD EQUIPMENT on the car I'm looking at. The 3 or 4 REAL options, sunroof, Bose audio, sport package, chrome wheels are NOT LISTED. That caused me no end of headaches.

    4. no VIN # (listers fault see my previous post)

    5. no color, I will NOT buy any shade of beige or tan, uugh! (listers fault)

    6. no mileage (listers fault)


    What I Like:

    1. excellent way to see what is out there and the range of asking prices.

    2. can put in a distance and / or year filter

    3. can filter for CPO cars

    I made extensive use of autotrader in my last two car purchases and will seriously consider it when trying to sell my next car (If I have to sell one).
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