Auto Trader alternatives – complete guide
When looking to sell a car, if you don’t want to sell instantly online, the first place you’re likely to consider is Auto Trader – the original online car classified platform used by millions of buyers and sellers alike.
But when considering a private sale, you don’t have to sell on Auto Trader and it’s certainly not the only classified car selling website.
This guide suggests a few other major routes to look at. It’s a helpful companion to the many AutoTrader alternatives.
Auto Trader alternatives explained:
- What is Auto Trader?
- Selling your car privately outside AutoTrader
- Online car buyers
- Selling your car directly to a dealer
What is Auto Trader?
Auto Trader has come a long way since its early days as a printed magazine available in newsagents. Sir John Madejski’s brainchild has become a dominant online marketplace in the UK’s second-hand car market.
Their website, first launched in 1996, it allows sellers to advertise their cars and connect easily with potential buyers. With a massive 7 million site visitors each month, it has become the go-to option for many looking to buy and sell second-hand cars.
And with its dealership portal, Auto Trader also has a specialist platform for dealers to login and buy or sell vehicles. This in turn allows them to get in touch with private sellers and purchase cars they want on their forecourts as well as helping sell their cars to private individuals.
It all combines to work in a way that allows buyers, sellers and dealers to connect with each other directly, cutting out any need to physically drive between dealerships and therefore any need to engage with middlemen.
It’s probably not exaggerating to suggest that Auto Trader has built a competitive marketplace where all parties can win. It cannot be underrated.
Yet despite it’s dominance in the used car market, there are plenty of other options when it comes to selling your car. Here we take a look at the other Auto Trader Alternatives out there, each with their own pros and cons…
Selling your car privately without Auto Trader?
Auto Trader is essentially a massive private online marketplace for selling your car. However, if you want to sell your car privately, it’s far from the only option to list your car for sale.
Even Facebook (as they have with so many aspects of modern life) have muscled their way onto the online car selling arena. With Facebook, you’ll be able source potential local buyers on Facebook Marketplace and you can easily sell effectively in your local area.
However, all these sites have their drawbacks – most of them to do with scale and confusion. They have their merits, but the sheer amount of other stuff on non-specialised classified sites means it can be hard for sellers to find serious car buyers.
At the other extreme, classified websites like Motors.co.uk and Exchange & Mart are seemingly perfect alternatives to Auto Trader. Not only are some of them free to list your car on, but they’re also more like Auto Trader in the sense they exclusively operate in the private car market.
However, though these sites are significant in terms of size and traffic, they are simply not as popular (or as big) as Auto Trader.
There are other drawbacks as well as a private seller. When selling your car privately, you are never guaranteed to get a good deal and fees do vary significantly between sites.
You’ll also have to show your car to potential buyers, hagglers and time-wasters, as well as keeping track of any offers you receive and the all-important paperwork.
The process of finding a buyer privately, either on Auto Trader or elsewhere, can therefore be a lengthy and frustrating process.
Online car buyers – perfect Auto Trader alternatives?
Online car buying websites have become some of the most popular Auto Trader alternatives. They take the hassle and stress out of the process of selling your car by securing a quick, instant sale online.
Instant car buyers offer a quick alternative to selling your car privately on a marketplace like Auto Trader. You don’t have to place adverts, or worry about showing your to potential buyers and time wasters.
You simply have to enter your reg number on a website along with the car’s mileage in order to receive an instant online valuation.
If that valuation is to your liking, you can arrange an appointment for the buyer to come and inspect your car. Some might come to you, other companies will need you to drop it off at a local branch.
Now this may sound like the ideal solution, however, there are things to consider when selling to an online car buying company.
The way the majority of these companies work, is by bulk-buying cars at low prices and selling them on at auction. In order to make a profit, they therefore rarely (or simply cannot) offer the car’s full retail value.
Thus you’re more likely to get a better price by selling your car privately. However, if you value your time and don’t want any hassle, then online car buyers are definitely the way to go.
There are now lots of online car buyers with varying levels of service and specialism.
These days, online car buying sites compete on lots more than just the vehicle valuation – there’s also lots of variance in fees, customer service, review scores, and collection options – which means more choice than ever for the consumer.
Motorway compares several large online buyers in one place – compare offers and sell now.
Selling directly to a dealer – is it worth it?
One of the more traditional ways of selling since the 1950’s has been to go directly to a car dealer. There are two different kind of dealerships: independent dealers and franchise dealers.
Of course, Auto Trader’s dealership portal also allows dealers to connect with both buyers and sellers.
Dealers can buy your car outright, or you can get a part exchange. Before the internet, dealership branches were the go-to option for people looking to sell their cars. And believe it or not, people had to drive their car around to various appointments to get the best price.
However, some people still prefer to go straight to a physical dealership. Despite this being a traditional method for selling your car, it can present numerous issues.
The primary issue is trust. For decades, the stereotypical image of the dodgy dealer has plagued the used car industry. Dealers simply have a reputation for not being trustworthy.
Car dealers often possess all the information needed to secure themselves profit, leaving either the buyer or seller in the dark over the true value of the car in question. They can sometimes bundle the value of the car you are selling in with the price of any car you are buying to make it look like a price reduction.
With part exchanges (or a trade-in), it’s not uncommon for a dealer to shave money off the price they quote you for your new car, meanwhile taking it away what they say they’ll pay you for the old one.
With car dealer tactics such as these so common, unbundling the buying and selling transaction can therefore become extremely difficult.
Before selling to a dealer, you should make sure that you have all the relevant information in question ready at your disposal and you should have an understanding of your car’s true worth, otherwise you simply risk getting ripped-off.
But enough scaremongering. You really can get a great price from a dealer if you’re selling a car they actually want to buy. All car dealers love selling cars that retail at £10,000 or more, so if your car is in good shape, you have a chance of getting a great price.
For example an Audi franchised dealership will likely pay good money for newer Audi cars, a Vauxhall garage will prefer to buy nearly-new used Vauxhalls and VW franchises usually love to buy any used Volkswagen in good condition. But these aren’t hard and fast rules – it’s worth being careful out there…
Ready to sell your car via Auto Trader alternatives?
Looking for more tips? Take a deep dive into another one of our handy guides:
- How to sell your car fast
- How to find your best car buyer
- How to sell a car using an online car buying service
- How to sell a car without a V5C
- What documents do I need to sell my car?
- How to sell a car on finance: step-by-step guide
- The DVLA and Selling Your Car – Ultimate Guide
- How to sell your car with free collection
- Van valuation – the ultimate guide