Since the sellers we encounter on various websites are harder to trust, it’s crucial to know how to find cheap used cars online. Anyone can post a listing these days, and as consumers, we are exposed to the risk of getting scammed. However, there are ways to tell the real sellers apart from those people who want to rip us off.

If you know where to look, you’ll be able to find the deal that suits your preferences and requirements. Today we’ll talk about the perks and drawbacks of buying used cars online. We’ll also learn how to shop for pre-owned vehicles safely. Let’s get started!

The perks of online shopping

Before we start discussing how to find used cars by private owners online and locate cheap deals, it’s important to evaluate the perks and drawbacks of online shopping.

I’ll be honest: finding used cars online does have its advantages.

Saves you a lot of time

You won’t have to go from one dealership to another to check out your options. You’ll save time that you’d otherwise spend commuting to the stores.

Enables you to shop whenever you want

Online dealerships and sellers are open 24/7. You get the freedom to shop whenever it’s convenient for you. Be it 5 am or 3 pm during the day – you can go online anytime you want.

Prevents you from dealing with salespeople

Those who hate dealing with salespeople will particularly enjoy online shopping. Of course, you can use the online consultation services, but they won’t be steeped with sales tactics.

Lets you conduct thorough research

When you go to a dealership and select a particular model, you can’t examine its reliability right there. You’d have to do that before or after you visit the store. Once again, it’s quite time-consuming. When you’re searching for used cars online, you can do thorough research on each model immediately, compare prices, read reviews, and explore various deals simultaneously.

Eliminates the need for haggling

The majority of online dealerships have no-haggle pricing, which means you won’t have to start those interminable negotiations. Things will be different with private owners, but it won’t be as overwhelming as with dealerships and their salespeople.

Provides a wide selection of options

When you’re searching for used cars online, you get access to countless options and choices. You can shop in your area or find a vehicle on another continent. Either way, you’ll be able to choose after reviewing various options.

The risks of buying a car online

Even though we mentioned quite a few perks, we still have to examine the other side of the coin and discuss the risks you’re facing when you’re shopping online. We’ll learn how to find used cars online in a bit.

It can be hard to find trustworthy sellers

Of course, you can read reviews, but more often than not, you’ll find mixed opinions about the seller. Some people will rave them up, while others might drag them through the mud. That’s why it’s hard to know whom to trust when you’re shopping for used cars online (it’s not impossible though).

You can’t evaluate the real condition of the vehicle

It’s not feasible to evaluate the real condition of the vehicle just by looking at the pictures. Sellers might hide a scratch or two until it’s too late and you’ve made your purchase. If you decide to shop for used cars online (without checking them out in real life), always request detailed pictures and descriptions.

It can be difficult to deal with paperwork

In real life, dealers usually take care of the paperwork. Private owners are quite easy to deal with when it comes to legal stuff as well. But online shopping can get complicated due to the transactions and all the necessary documents.

You might have trouble with local regulations

If you’re wondering how to find cheap used cars online, then you should know local regulations. That way, you’ll avoid trouble while registering the car.

With that being said, the best way to find reliable used cars is to combine online shopping with real-life experiences. Use all the benefits to your advantage, but don’t hesitate to set up a meeting before the purchase to examine the car professionally and take the test drive.

How to find cheap used cars online?

Observe online auctions. In my personal opinion, online auctions are the best way to get the cheapest deals. It does have its risks, but if your budget is tight, public auctions can save your life.

Another option is to contact individual sellers, but we’ll discuss how to find used cars by private owners online a bit later. For now, let’s see which auction websites are reliable.


AutoBidMaster is a public auction that doesn’t require a dealer’s license. They give you access to abundant choices so that you can bid on the vehicle that suits your needs. They explain the whole process step-by-step, so you won’t get confused if it’s your first auction.

Oh, and it’s free!

Auto Auction Mall

Auto Auction Mall is a dream come true for anyone who wants to experience online auctions fully. It gives you access to the inventory that is otherwise available to the dealers only. You don’t need a license to register – you simply have to pay a small fee.

Cars & Bids

Cars & Bids is for those people who want to find special cars cheaply. They do require a commission, but their service is quite convenient to use. They give you access to rare and cool vehicles and provide a Carfax report for each listing.


Even though you won’t enjoy the full package with IAAI if you’re not a dealer, you can still access some of their inventory without the license.

Auctions can be quite useful for anyone who wants to learn how to find used cars online and avoid breaking the bank. Even though auction listings are harder to trust, you can still find amazing deals if you’re not lazy to search.

How to find used cars by private owners online?

Explore the websites you can trust. You already know how to find cheap used cars online – now it’s time to discuss how to find used cars by private owners online.

You can use websites such as AutoTrader, CarGurus,, AutoTempest, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay Motors. It’s best to browse a couple of them and check out the available deals. You can follow additional steps to find trustworthy sellers.

Look for private owners who are willing to communicate

If you want to avoid scammers, it’s best to talk to the private owners and see if they are willing to communicate. The sellers that are open about the vehicle’s history are more likely to be real. When you talk with them, pay attention to the details and make sure they aren’t hiding important information.

Read reviews

Read reviews whenever available. That way, you’ll understand how a seller treats their customers and whether they can be trusted or not.

Ask them if they are willing to provide necessary documents

Reliable private owners will be willing to provide all the necessary documents. Be it maintenance records or history reports – they will give you everything if they have nothing to hide.

Don’t forget to determine the true value of the vehicle beforehand

If you don’t want private sellers to rip you off, it’s mandatory to do research and compare prices. You can use online tools to determine the market value of the car you want to buy.

Get a Carfax report

Always get a Carfax (or a similar) report. It contains information about mileage, accidents, etc. Even though it’s not a bulletproof way to understand the condition of the vehicle, it surely tells you a lot.

Set up a meeting and inspect the condition of the car

I don’t recommend buying a used car online without inspecting it in real life. No matter how reliable the seller is – it’s always crucial to have a professional mechanic evaluate its condition.


Finding a used car online can be a huge headache, as well as a blessing. It makes your job easier, yet it’s more reasonable to combine website data with real-life experiences. Now that you know how to find used cars online, you can easily pick out the desirable model. Make sure to check them out in person and get others’ opinions as well.