May 25, 2017

How to Find a New Car on Craigslist

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Internet Sites

This how-to will show you how to find a new car on Craigslist in four simple steps. Following these, you can in minutes find the car you’re looking for at the best price available on Craigslist, be it in your area, or any other area covered by Craigslist. Whether you already know the exact make and model you’d like to buy, or simply that it’s a pickup (or sedan, or SUV, etc.), this how-to will help you find what you’re looking for. If you’re considering a used car, check out How to Find a Used Car on Craigslist. With regional bulletin-board type sites covering over 700 regions and cities in more than 70 countries (though primarily in the US), Craigslist is one of the top ten English language websites in the world. The site serves up 20 billion monthly page views to over 50 million users and hosts over a hundred topical forums, with more than 120 million forum posts. Craigslist users post over 50 million classified ads monthly, providing an enormous market for all types of goods and services [1].

Among many other categories, Craigslist ads include cars for sale, housing for rent, houses for sale, help wanted, dating, free stuff for the taking, etc. You can sell almost anything (legal) on Craigslist, including used textbooks, computers, etc. In fact many people have set themselves up in business, making money using Craigslist, by doing such things as buying cheap items from garage sales, estate sales, yard sales, etc., refurbishing them if needed, and reselling them at a profit on Craigslist.

The site’s Terms of Use (TOU) disclaim any liability for what Craigslist users post in their ads, or for any interactions between posters and responders to those ads. The site does not claim to moderate ads, audit, or monitor them [2]. However, users are able to flag whatever ads they feel are in violation of the TOU, at which point the site retains the right to remove the offending ads. Craigslist does not guarantee the behavior of its users, however, the site has posted advice on how to avoid Craigslist scams, which users would be well-advised to heed [3]. Another useful page Craigslist has posted provides tips on how to be prudent and safe when conducting business with other site users [4].

Car Dealers Sell New and Used Cars on Craigslist

With more than 50 million visitors on Craigslist each month, car dealerships nationwide have found Craigslist to be an invaluable marketing tool. There are specialized software tools for car dealers allowing them to post cars and trucks for sale on Craigslist in minutes, including posting a host of photos of the car or cars, price information, mileage, and of course make, model, and year. The video below shows a tool allowing a dealer to simply enter a vehicle’s identification number – VIN, and proceed from there.

This tutorial video, posted on Youtube by Showroom Logic, shows and promotes a new VIN-based tool for auto dealers seeking to post Craigslist cars for sale ads.

Step 1: What Car Are you in the Market for?

When starting your search for a new car on Craigslist, your obvious first step is to choose what car it is you’re looking for. Using such resources as Consumer Reports [5], and/or [6] you can choose a vehicle that meets your requirements, is reliable, and has a track record for high resale value. Regardless what type of car you choose, be it a stalwart family sedan such as the Camry or Accord, a European sports car like a Porsche, Lamborghini, an American-made Corvette (see photo), a massive SUV, or a gas-sipping hybrid like the Prius, all these and more can be found on Craigslist Cars for Sale.

In this image you see a late model Corvette Z06, similar to a new 2010 Corvette posted on the “cars for sale” section of the Houston Craigslist site on October 2, 2010 for $64,994, under the ad title “2010 Chevrolet Corvette 2dr Car Z06 w/2LZ – $64994 (Houston)”. The image, taken Wikimedia Commons user FrankWilliams was released to the public domain. A higher resolution version is available through

Step 2: Where do you Want to Buy your Next Car?

With more than 700 regional Craigslist sites, chances are you can find a region near you covered by the Craigslist, especially if you live near a major metro area. For really large markets such as the Washington DC area, Craigslist has several sub-regions, in this case DC itself, Maryland, and northern Virginia. If searching for cars in the national capital area you could start by visiting the general Craigslist DC area site and click on the link for cars and trucks sold by dealers in the area [7].

Step 3: Define your Search Terms

Assume you decide you want to buy a brand new 2011 Honda Accord, but you’d be open to considering some competing models such as the Camry or Mazda 6. Start out on the above mentioned page and enter the search string “new”. Knowing the cars you’re looking for should cost between $20,000 and $35,000, enter those values in the minimum and maximum price boxes. Hit the “search” button and you should get thousands of ads.

Glancing through you’ll notice that many of the ads offer older model cars with some new item such as “new tires”. To weed those out, add to the search terms “-2010 -2009 -2008 -2007 -2006 -2005 -2004”. This will veto any ad with those years mentioned. Most car dealers don’t sell really old cars, so by vetoing ads offering cars from the most recent 7 or so years you’ll remove the overwhelming majority of used vehicles. In fact you’ll probably find that you’re now down to a few hundred ads. Some more terms you can veto include “-inspected -owner -smoker -tires” which should reduce the ad count to a very manageable few dozen.

Step 4: Choose your Favorite Ads and Follow Up

Review the ads remaining in your search results and see which one you’d like to be your next car. If there are several options, go back to and check out what price you should expect to pay for each of the cars with its specific options and trim level. If you’re a AAA member, check what deals they’ve negotiated on your behalf with local area dealers. Once you’ve done that bit of homework, contact the dealers offering each of the cars you liked on Craigslist and try to beat the Edmunds-recommended prices and the AAA-negotiated one. If the dealers posting the Craigslist ads for new cars are “hungry” enough, you may net yourself a great deal. Go to the dealership, go for a test drive to make sure you really like the car, and close the deal.


  • In most major metro areas you should find hundreds of ads on Craigslist offering new cars from dealers.
  • The search tool on Craigslist lets you select specific terms, and veto other specific terms. Use it to identify the make and model of car you want, and to remove the type of ads you’re not interested in. This could even be the car colors you hate.
  • Follow the Craigslist recommendations for maintaining your personal safety, and to help you avoid scams.


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Series NavigationHow to Find a Used Car on CraigslistCraigslist Personals – Classified Ads

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  1. […] This How-To will teach you how to find a used car on Craigslist in 5 simple steps. Following these steps you will be able to find on Craigslist Cars for Sale a car that matches your preferences in any of the hundreds of regions covered by Craigslist worldwide. Whatever type of car or truck you’re looking for, be it low mileage, below a certain price, a specific make and model and/or model year, this How-To will show you how to search Craigslist easily and quickly for your next vehicle. You’ll even learn how to exclude cars, if for example you want to make sure the ads you find do not include any orange cars. If you prefer a new car, be sure to read How to Find a New Car on Craigslist. […]

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