March 29, 2017

Craigslist Cars for Sale – a Huge Car Market

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Internet Sites

Craigslist Cars For Sale is one of the top free places where you can buy and sell cars, new or used. Craigslist does not charge a fee for placing Cars For Sale ads, making this a very attractive place for sellers to post their cars. In fact, being free, posting a Craigslist ad is even cheaper than putting a “for sale” sign on your truck or car. Visitors to Craigslist Cars For Sale are looking to buy a car or a truck, so an ad posted there will be seen by many more interested car buyers than a sign on your vehicle, even if you park it at a high-traffic location such as the parking lot of a local shopping mall. In large metro areas, such as Washington DC, on any given day you will find hundreds and hundreds of “used cars for sale” and “new cars for sale” ads [1].

Craigslist is organized regionally, with a main page showing all categories for a given region as active links. There are over 700 regional Craigslist sites covering locations both in the United States and abroad in more than 70 foreign countries [2]. Large markets are sub-divided into several sub-regions, each with its own page. For example, the Washington DC page for Craigslist has three sub-regions – Washington DC, northern Virginia, and Maryland [3]. To post a “car for sale by owner” ad in DC itself, you would go to the Washington DC region Craigslist page [3], click on the “post to classifieds” link on the left, then click on “for sale” from the list that shows up. Scrolling down a bit, you’d click on “cars & trucks – by owner”. Finally, since there are three sub-regions which show up, you’d click on the correct one, in this case “District of Columbia”. This will open up the form to fill out for posting your ad [4]. If it proves too difficult to sell for a price that makes it worth your time and effort, you might consider donating your car, possibly generating a nice tax deduction (before making such a donation, check with your tax advisor).

White Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 Example of high-end cars posted on Craigslist cars for sale: A 2008 white Lamborghini Murciélago LP640

This image shows a 2008 white Lamborghini Murciélago LP640, similar to one posted on the “cars for sale” section of the San Francisco Bay area Craigslist site on September 15, 2010. The unusual car listed for $229,995. The image, from the 2008 Vienna auto show, was posted by Wikimedia Commons user Michi1308 who released it to the public domain. A high resolution version is available throughélago_LP640_white.jpg.

For dedicated step-by-step how-to articles, visit How to Find a New Car on Craigslist, or How to Find a Used Car on Craigslist. These articles will take you through the simple steps needed to find your next car in one of the largest car markets out there. An online service allowing people to post classified ads, Craigslist, partially owned by online auction giant eBay [5], is one of the highest-traffic English language websites in the world, with nearly 50 million US visitors per month [6], visiting over 20 billion Craigslist pages monthly [2]. As part of the website’s community-minded attributes, nearly all ads are free of charge, and Craigslist doesn’t post any non-user ads on its own pages. Craigslist makes its revenue mostly from brokered apartment listings in NYC, and by businesses posting “for hire” ads in 20 major markets [5]. Craigslist offers many other types of ads besides Cars For Sale, including most notably Craigslist Personals, Craigslist Help Wanted ads, and Craigslist Housing ads, each of which is described in greater detail in dedicated articles. Recently, after intense pressure by several attorneys general, Craigslist removed its very active “Adult Services” category [7].

Potential Pitfalls Specific to Craigslist Cars For Sale

The anonymous nature of the online world, and the huge market provided by Craigslist, both lead to scams and outright theft. Craigslist is aware of such illegal behavior by a small minority of its users and provides guidance on protecting yourself [8] and avoiding scams [9]. How To Avoid Craigslist Scams goes into more details, providing helpful hints and tips.

While Craigslist makes it very easy to buy a new or used car, scam artists try to take advantage of this, and rip off unsuspecting buyers and sellers both. The overwhelming majority of Craigslist users are honest people looking to make a few dollars from items they no longer need, or save a few dollars by buying through a classified ad. In almost all cases, at the conclusion of a deal, both the buyer and seller are satisfied. However, in some cases things can go very wrong, so if you’re looking to buy your next car on Craigslist, be on the lookout for the following warning signs of a possible scam.

Chevy Suburban A more mundane example of vehicles posted on Craigslist cars for sale: A 2003 Chevrolet Suburban

This image shows a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, similar to one posted on the “cars for sale” section of the New York Craigslist site on September 14, 2010. The 7-year-old SUV listed for $10,995. The image was posted by Wikimedia Commons user Bull-Doser who released it to the public domain. A high resolution version is available through’03-‘06_Chevrolet_Suburban.JPG.

As the well-known saying goes, if something looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t. If someone posts a car for sale at far below its fair market value, be very careful (How To Find The Market Value of a Car on Edmunds will show you step by step how you can determine the fair value of a car in a private transaction). While a really low price could be the result of an uninformed seller, or one who is highly motivated to sell quickly, it is more likely that the car has significant damage, is stolen, or doesn’t even exist.

With the large number of men and women in the armed forces overseas for many years now, scammers have been known to claim they are military personnel deployed overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan so they cannot meet in person to sell you their car. Be extra cautious in such cases. If you decide to proceed anyway, make sure at least to see the car, as well as the title, and a notarized power of attorney proving that the person showing you the car is empowered to act for the owner in selling you that car. Far simpler and safer would be to skip such cars and find one of the hundreds of others where you can meet the owner in person. Two more warning signs are ads that do not include a phone number, or sellers requiring you to use an escrow service.

If you’re selling your car on Craigslist Cars For Sale, things to be careful of include buyers trying to use bad checks or counterfeit money orders. In many cases the scammer may give you a cashier check for more than your asking price, asking you to refund to them the difference, possibly using a wire service such as Western Union. The cashier check in such cases is almost invariably forged. Even if you wait for the funds to show up in your account you’re not safe. Your bank may not have received the funds yet, and once the forgery is found, the transaction will be reversed, leaving you with neither the car nor the money you “refunded” to the scammer. Make sure your bank has actually received the funds and has verified the check or money order your buyer provided is legitimate [10].

This Youtube video shows how auto dealers can use a dedicated tool to post a Craigslist cars for sale ad in about a minute, including multiple photos, vehicle options, etc. The tool provides dealers with templates, means to randomize the order of terms in the ad title, etc. The video shows dealers how to post cars for sale ads step by step using this tool.

Fast Facts about Craigslist:

  1. Craigslist is an online listing board for classified ads [11]

  2. Craigslist was founded in 1985 in San Francisco by Craig Newmark, a programmer [11]

  3. Craigslist headquarters is at 1381 9th Ave, San Francisco, California 94122-2308 [5]

  4. Craigslist phone number is 415-566-6394, or toll-free 800-664-0633, and their fax number is 415-504-6394 [12]

  5. Craigslist CEO is Jim Buckmaster [12]

  6. Craigslist has 12 employees [12]

  7. Craigslist annual revenues were estimated as being over $100 million according to a NY Times report in 2009, though the company declined to comment on that, or any other number [13].















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  1. wow this is so nice blog of cars and i am so happy that you share this to all……

  2. dailylister says:

    Finding cars on craigslist can be hard if your craigslist city is smaller. I use to search a larger area of craigslist cars for sale. Or if I am looking for a cheap used car for sale

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