How to Find a Used Car for Sale

by Si Kingston

Finding a used car can be one of the most overwhelming endeavors because so many people and businesses are trying to unload used vehicles. But because there are so many sellers, buyers can find great deals for used vehicles online, in the paper, at local car dealerships or at auction. To start hunting for a used car, know what type of vehicle you want and how much you can afford to spend.

Cars for Sale

Go online to or the classified section of your local newspaper to find a listing of used automobiles for sale. On Craigslist, start searching for a used car by clicking on the appropriate city or region, and then clicking on "Cars+Trucks" under the "For Sale" section. You can limit your search by entering the type of car you are seeking; for example, a Honda Accord, and the minimum and maximum dollar amount you want to spend. Newspapers usually have their vehicles listed by the car manufacturer or type of vehicle, such as "Truck."

Visit auction sites such as Ebay. Before bidding on a vehicle, make sure you have read the full description of the car, emailed the seller any questions about the vehicle, and checked the seller's ratings and comments. Also, understand the value of the vehicle by going to and researching how much similar vehicles sell for in the area so you don't get caught up in a bidding war that results in overbidding. Look for vehicles that are local. Visit a local seller and test drive the vehicle before bidding. If bidding on a vehicle that is far away, include the charge to ship the vehicle in the final price.

Find local car auctions. You can look up car auctions in the phone book, or look them up in the paper or on Craigslist because many advertise in these places. Make sure to arrive early to inspect the vehicles before the bidding begins.

Look in your local paper or auto trade magazine. The classifieds are a common place for sellers to post their used vehicles. Auto trade magazines can be picked up in grocery stores or convenient stores and list used cars in your area.

Go to local used car dealerships. Every town or city usually has multiple used car dealerships. To find local used car dealers, browse through the phone book or even look for car dealers on Craigslist, by selecting "cars & trucks--by dealer" from the drop-down menu in the search criterion box.

Visit new car dealerships. New car dealerships will often have used vehicles that they have accepted on trade-in. Some dealerships also have certified used cars, meaning that vehicle received a dealer-certified inspection and has been verified to be up to a certain standard or received maintenance work to bring it up to a certain standard.

Drop in or call local tow yards or salvage yards. Tow yards usually have used vehicles for sale because many owners can't afford to pick up their vehicles. But be careful: Tow yards usually don't allow a potential buyer to do anything more than turn on the car; test driving is usually out of the question. And many owner's have their vehicle towed because their is a problem with the vehicle. But some vehicles, may be towed because of parking tickets or parking in a "No Parking " zone. Make sure to include the potential cost of paying off such additional fees as tickets when registering the vehicle.

Drive around the neighborhood. Used vehicles can often be found by just driving through the neighborhood. Private owners often post "For Sale" signs on their vehicles. Also many neighborhoods have a lot or street that many owners use to park the cars they have for sale.

Ask friends and family. Because so many people are selling their used vehicles, a friend or family member may know someone who is selling a car or might be selling a vehicle themselves.

About the Author

Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera yellow car, a honda japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from