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The Best Methods for Selling Cars Online and Making More Dollar Signs

A simple guide to selling cars online and creating red hot internet leads for your used car dealership

Saying the used car industry is going through a rapid change would be an understatement. If you’ve been in car sales long enough, you’ve seen the drastic turn towards selling cars online. Where only a fraction of sales were created within online platforms ten years ago, now these methods are the primary force of sales aggregation for dealerships across the country.

So what does this mean for your dealership? It’s time level up your online presence and take every opportunity to offer a better user experience for potential customers searching through your inventory. All of your competing dealerships have at least made a marginal effort to tap into the vast lead sources available online. So how can you beat them to the punch? Real simple: cover all the ground you can with online car listings and improve those listings with the most accurate, transparent and attractive information possible.

In this post, we’ve outlined a simple and effective guide to up your game for selling cars online. Below we’ve covered the best practices for creating attractive inventory listings, what to consider when choosing a third party website to use, and the top nine websites you should be posting on right now.

How to create attractive car listings online

First, you have to understand that a car listing is a primary lead source. But, there’s a problem: your listing is just one in a sea of many others. Put extra care and effort into separating yourself from the hundreds of thousands surrounding your posts. To sell more cars online, you must cater to the needs of your potential customers–know what they want to see and give it to them every time. If you can do that, selling cars online will become a major revenue source for your dealership.

Here is a checklist for creating an attractive car listing:

  • Hire a photographer/videographer to take professional photos of your inventory. This includes inside and outside shots, highlighting all the features you would focus on in a real time showing.
  • Doll up your inventory before taking the photos. A full clean, inside and out. The website viewer should see their future purchase has been taken care of.
  • Price your car accurately and competitively.
  • Write a thoughtful and compelling ad for the post. Focus on the benefits and features, but be honest about any glaring issues.
  • List the essential information: the year, make, model, color, mileage, transmission type, vehicle history report (customers look for this!), and contact information including a link to your dealership website.

Consider variables when choosing a third party website to list inventory with

There are many different websites to list your inventory. We recommend choosing at least four (not including your dealership website). You want to cover all your bases and place your products where they belong in certain website portals. For instance, if you’re going to be posting the car on Craigslist, it’s best to list inventory in the lower price range. Also, it’s important to track your ad and website traffic as much as possible, so you can determine where your best lead sources and make informed decisions on where to place more (or less) listings online.

Here are a few variables to consider when choosing the right online marketplace:

  • What are the fees associated with posting on their website? Study how many leads are generated over a few months and decide whether or not it’s financially viable to keep listing there.
  • How many pictures can you include per listing? Is it possible to upload video content?
  • What features are offered to website viewers? Some websites have created mapping tools to find nearby dealerships, others offer CarFax reports.
  • Does the website fit your target market? You don’t want to list a used Camry with a vendor specializing in classic cars and trucks.
  • Do they offer additional ad space?

The top 8 websites for listing and selling cars online

The websites listed below consistently rank as the highest searched online used car markets. Although it wouldn’t be necessary to list on each one, it’s a smart idea to try all of them and see which works best for you (and who helps you drive the most leads). These websites are not listed in any particular rank or order of importance for selling cars online. Well, except for the first one.

1.) Your dealership website

Although consumers are more likely to check third party websites before visiting your dealership page, keeping your inventory up to date and available is vital to your online success. When a customer is redirected to your page, they will likely be interested in checking out what else you have available. They will also want to compare your listing to the one available on a different site for consistency.

2.) Autotrader

One of the biggest platforms for selling cars online, Autotrader puts your listings in front of a giant audience. They also include options to let you post on networks like MSN Autos.


Made specifically for listing cars, this website puts you in touch with a large audience and offers free packages with five photographs for 30 days at a time. You can add on features and other benefits for a fee.

4.) Kelley Blue Book

By far the oldest and longest standing informational source on auto trade listed here, KBB has been a leading resource for car dealers and buyers since 1926.

5.) Ebay Motors

Including your listing within the Local Classifieds section on this website is free and will display your post to anyone who searches for a used car within a 200 mile radius of your location.

6.) AOL Autos

The search traffic for AOL Autos is astronomical, hitting nearly one million visitors per day. Plus, posting a car listing with them is free.

7.) Edmunds

Edmunds is one of the most visited websites for interested car buyers out there today. They also published a number of featured articles and useful information for buyers (content that keeps them coming back).

8.) Craigslist

Last but not least, the largest sale-by-owner website available. Your ad can quickly get lost in the shuffle, so make sure you update and re-post your listing frequently (but don’t get spammy about it!)

Selling cars online and getting customers through the door is all about placement and attractiveness

Before you can properly market your services and products, you need to place them where your customers can see them. That’s the first step to selling cars online and generating hot leads. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the right website to host your listings, but once you measure the results and figure out where your best leads come from, the rest gets much easier. Just remember to put in the extra effort for creating an attractive ad, and you’ll have good results.

Are you looking for an easy and painless way to track your internet leads? We provide a comprehensive CRM system specifically made for auto dealerships. We understand how you do business, and we believe our services can help you grow tremendously. Give us a call today or download our free CRM Guide for more info!

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.