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2019 Autotrader USA Reviews: Classic & Used Cars, Trucks Online

Michael Jones

Auto Loan Expert

Autotrader Reviews

If you are looking to buy a car or if you are selling your old one, chances are, the first option you think about is trying to go to each dealer near your area and personally inspect the cars and offers. But everyone knows how time consuming that can be, and it limits the options you might have. 

With today’s age of smartphones and tablets, the Internet is your ally when it comes to helping you find the best deals or offers in your area, especially when it comes to Buying a New Car vs Used Car. That is why there are a lot of online services you can now use to speed up that process, and one of the more popular ones is Autotrader. You’ve probably seen their ad or have heard about them. It’s time to take a closer look.

What is Autotrader?

Autotrader is a website that offers a variety of services for people looking to buy, sell, or trade-in their vehicles. It takes the manual process of visiting each dealer and automates it, allowing users to view all available options in a specific area with just a few clicks. Autotrader has a built-in search engine that displays a vast number of listings from different dealers and includes numerous information about the car itself as well as the dealer. This reduces the time of acquiring or selling vehicle from a few weeks to just a few days.

It claims to have at least 14 million buyers each month, an astounding amount of traffic for any kind of website. They also manage listings for over 40,000 dealers and 250,000 private sellers.

As mentioned, there are quite a number of websites that offer a similar service. But Autotrader has a couple of unique features that make it stand out among the others. We have listed some of them to help you determine if Autotrader is the car search portal you should use.

Key features of Autotrader

Trade-in service

While some websites just offer a search service for buyers or sellers, Autotrader also has an option for trade-ins. This basically means that they can instantly give out an estimate cost for your existing vehicle to be used as trade-in value for a new car or can be used as cash value if you decide to just sell the vehicle.

In Autotrader’s Trade in My Car page, you just need to enter a few details about your car, and you will get an assessment of the value based on the Kelley Blue Book used cars value, which is a trusted measure of a vehicle’s market value. If you are satisfied with the estimate amount, you can the proceed to an accredited dealer so they can inspect the vehicle’s condition and features. This feature saves the buyer from guessing and coming to a dealer not knowing the market value for his or her specific car type and condition.

Cost calculators

Autotrader has a car payment calculator, which most websites also have. This is a very useful feature to determine the amount you would need to pay based on the price of the car you are looking at. But, Autotrader also has what it calls an affordability calculator. This is a feature wherein instead of trying to figure out what you need to pay for a specific kind of car, you will get information on the type of cars that will fall within your preferred budget and monthly payment capacity based on current used car loan rates. This is a great tool for those who want to get all options available based on his or her capacity to pay. You just need to enter how much you can pay monthly, the down payment amount you think you can produce, and other information such as preferred auto loan interest rates, and Autotrader will give you a list of car listings that fall within that range.

People who are not that knowledgeable about cars or car models will greatly appreciate this feature as they will most likely come across cars that they have not even considered or cars that they don’t even know about when they began their search.

Car comparison

Autotrader has a dedicated page for comparing specific car types and conditions. In the Compare Cars page, you can compare car models of various years, models, and brands, and Autotrader will show results based on listings near your location. Nearly every piece of information about a car that a buyer could ask about are listed with each search, from basic car specifications like engine type, brakes, colors, mileage and fuel consumption to very specific features such as climate control, Wi-Fi accessibility, and heated seats.

The list goes on and on and buyers can really see whether a certain model and brand has the capacity or features that are important to them. It also includes the average price and usual warranties for specific models so that buyers or sellers have an idea of the car’s value.

Comprehensive review page

One of the standout features of Autotrader is its comprehensive review page. Autotrader has a vast collection of articles, news, and reviews to help buyers and sellers make their decision. Autotrader posts in-house reviews about new and used cars, which can be quite difficult to find especially if the car you are looking at is quite old already. These are written by expert reviewers and are very detailed and try to simulate real-world usage.

There is also the highly-recommended video review section, in which consumers can play videos of reviewers actually using the cars, which often gives valuable information to consumers that articles cannot just give, no matter how detailed. All these reviews are also categorized by car type, which makes it easier for users to view similar reviews for purposes of comparison.

Finally, Autotrader also has a new future models page, which gives users an idea of the new models that are going to be released and their features. This is very useful as not all consumers are updated with the car industry, and some of them may have bought an old model only to be disappointed that they did not hold out for a new model that might have been coming out just before they finalized their purchase.

Clean website interface

Autotrader’s website has a clean layout and is easy to understand. The functions are clearly indicated and is very intuitive to use without too much advertisements that usually make online search portals hard to navigate. This is essential as a lot of consumers are just trying to utilize the internet and are first-time users of such a service. If you have a convoluted website, it is easy for users to get overwhelmed with information. This is not the case with Autotrader, which obviously has a carefully thought out and studied website design.

As one of the largest car search portals on the internet, Autotrader has the advantage of popularity and having a huge user base. It also boasts of over 3 million listings. But its scale can also be a disadvantage, as it can become difficult to maintain a high standard of service for all clients. But has Autotrader navigated this dilemma successfully? Let us find out based on some of the reviews of Autotrader below.

Sitejabber

Review website Sitejabber shows a favorable rating for Autotrader. Aside from currently having a 4 out 5 rating, Autotrader was even recognized by the website as one of its awardees for its 2017 Costumer Choice Award. Most of the reviewers loved Autotrader’s easy to use interface, as well as the convenient process of purchasing cars. They also commended the great customer service they experienced with dealers who advertise on the site. A lot of sellers were also happy that they can easily edit their advertisements to reflect price changes or add photos, which leads to more inquiries about their vehicles.

Despite the majority of users of Autotrader leaving positive reviews, there were also a few that did not like their experience with Autotrader at all. Some users reported being directed to dealers that were hard to negotiate with and offered less-than-stellar customer service. Some sellers also complained about the high cost of advertising on Autotrader as compared against the number of leads it actually generates. They said that they were able to sell their vehicles significantly faster on other sites that charge less than Autotrader.

Yelp

Yelp is probably one of the biggest review websites in the world today and implements a 5-star rating system. Unfortunately, Autotrader has just managed a dismal 1-star rating based on 43 reviews. Most of the negative reviews were from sellers, who were really upset with the lack of leads they got after posting their listing on Autotrader. Aside from mediocre advertisement performance, some of them also complained that they immediately received spam emails from marketers after they gave Autotrader their information for their listings. Another major complaint among buyers and sellers alike is the volume of fake inquiries and scammers that have contacted them after they used the website. Others were reportedly called by multiple persons asking for more pictures without any legitimate inquiries, which is a sign of phishing activity.

Consumer Affairs

Like Yelp, Consumer Affairs paints a poor picture of Autotrader in terms of customer satisfaction. The responses on Consumer Affairs is overwhelmingly negative, and Autotrader only got a 1 out of 5 stars. A lot of the complaints were similar with the reviews posted on Yelp. Some sellers also complained about the time it takes for them to edit their advertisements. They reported that it takes 24-48 hours for the changes they made to their ads to reflect, which is unacceptable to them considering Autotrader charges high rates for listings. Also, a significant number of reviewers were astounded by the number of spam messages and fraudulent inquiries they received after posting their cars on Autotrader, while some regretted using Autotrader’s service to sell their cars because it got them way less leads compared to other websites.

Trustpilot

Autotrader can take solace in the reviews on Trustpilot, which puts their rating at a better 3 out 5 stars. Those who left positive reviews said that they liked that Autotrader has tons of information available, which made their research easier and faster, considering that they did not have to go to other review sites just to view information about a certain vehicle. Some also sold their cars way faster in Autotrader than on other sites.

Still, the ones who left negative reviews complained more of the same issues, such as lots of spam messages, high costs, and being repeatedly ignored by Autotrader’s customer service team. They are also disappointed that Autotrader does not seem to be as effective as it once was when selling cars, as they have received only a few leads for particular postings despite the huge user base of Autotrader.

Final words

Autotrader remains one of the most popular car search portals in the world, having established its popularity from a few years back when it used to publish its own magazine. But as mentioned, a company with Autotrader’s reach and scale can become hard to manage, and based on the reviews above, it seems like Autotrader’s service has slowly regressed in the last few years. It still has one of the largest listings database, so for anyone who values having more options more than other elements, then it is still a good website. But first-time users might want to do a little bit more research and compare it first with other websites that offer similar services before deciding to use Autotrader’s services.

Also, as a tip for buyers, take advantage of the huge database of dealers in Autotrader. Do not just consider one or two dealers for your purchase. Have backup dealers by using Autotrader’s search engine so that if you feel that you are not getting the best deal or are suddenly facing incompetent customer service, you can immediately pivot and inquire with other dealers for your chosen car. This is important as some users unfairly place the blame on search portals such as Autotrader when at times, the issue is solely with the dealer themselves.

FAQ 

Buying and selling of cars used to be a very tedious process. Thanks to the internet, services like Autotrader has made it a lot easier for everyone. Get to know how to use Autotrader and how it can help you find your dream car or sell your beloved vehicle

The Basics of Autotrader

Interested in knowing more about one of the most popular e-commerce platforms for cars? Read our little guide below.

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What is Autotrader?

Autotrader is an online platform wherein you can search, buy, and sell new or old cars. You can browse through a vast database of cars, each with a detailed history. You can also read lots of guides on the website, as well as avail loans.

How does Autotrader work?

If you are looking for a car to buy, you can search in Autotrader and use numerous filters to narrow down the postings to the particular model, condition, and even location of your choice. Then you can begin contacting the seller of the vehicle. Read more about leasing a car vs buying.

Who owns Autotrader?

Currently, Autotrader is owned by the Auto Trader Group, Inc. However, before this, it has been passed down from different companies and mergers. It was originally founded by John Madejsk In 1977.

Where to find Auto trader magazines?

Autotrader, unfortunately, has completely stopped producing physical magazines in 2013 and has been since a fully digital publication. There’s no official selling of the old issues of the magazine, unless you happen to meet someone who has stored old issues.

Who is the girl in the Autotrader commercial?

There have been numerous Autotrader commercials to date involving different actresses, but among them, actress Daryn Carp has been in several commercial spots for Autotrader.

What happened to Autotrader website?

Autotrader has regularly revamped its website every couple of years, seeing to it that it is easier for both buyers and sellers to use. Whether it’s adding new features, or changing the aesthetic of the website, Autotrader regularly implements changes.

How much does Autotrader cost?

This depends on the kind of advertising package you prefer for your car. The price is usually dependent on how long you want the ad to run, or if you prefer it to appear at the top of search results.

Why is Autotrader site so slow?

If the Autotrader website is slow for you, you might have problems with your internet connection. There are indeed times when the website itself has technical issues, but those are relatively rare occasions.

What does Cat D mean on Autotrader?

Cat D or Category D is a unit used by insurance companies to measure the degree of damage to a vehicle. Cat D vehicles are ones that have suffered major damage, most commonly due to accidents, and were already written off by insurance companies as too expensive to repair.

What is a trade seller on Autotrader?

A trade seller is someone who buy and sells cars for profit. Unlike distributors, they are usually individuals who often focus on second hand vehicles. 

When does the Autotrader magazine come out?

With the ongoing digitization of almost every company, Autotrader has also stopped producing physical magazines for its customers since 2013. Nowadays, Autotrader is a fully digital and online platform.

When does Autotrader update online?

Whenever an advertisement is put up and verified, it is immediately included in the database of cars for sale in Autotrader. This means that the website itself is always updated with the latest ads, 24/7.

What does franchised dealer mean on Autotrader?

A franchised dealer is an establishment authorized by car manufacturers to sell new and used cars on their behalf. This means they have official support from the manufacturer, and are the only ones who can sell official used cars from the manufacturer.

How to save a search on Autotrader?

In order to for you to save your search parameters on Autotrader, you must first create an account. After you have created your account, you can then use the Save Search function whenever you start browsing for cars.

Which is better, Autotrader or Cars.com?

This will depend on your personal preference and specific results for your ads. Both platforms are great for buying and selling cars, but Autotrader does have the advantage of decades of experience. That said, you should try both for yourself. Also be sure to compare the best auto loans while you’re shopping for cars.

Which Autotrader package to choose?

Depends on your goals for your advertisement. Do you need to sell your car as fast as possible? Then it’s better to invest a little bit more with the more expensive packages. But if you are not in a rush to sell, the more affordable ones might be better.

How many employees does Autotrader have?

It will be hard to verify the exact number of employees without a formal request to Autotrader, but it does say that Autotrader US has more than 1,600 employees registered in LinkedIn.

What is accelerate on Autotrader?

Accelerate is a new service by Autotrader that allows dealers to not just post ads on the platform, but also facilitate the initial buying process for buyers. This means buyers can accomplish a lot of the initial process straigh on the website, and go to the dealer when it’s time to test drive or sign.

What is the name of the Autotrader magazine that are at gas stations?

There is no longer any physical Autotrader magazine in circulation, as the company has stopped producing it since 2013. Any Autotrader magazine you will come across now would be old issues.

Why won't Autotrader load?

This could be due to several factors. One is a slow internet connection, which could make loading slower. A very old laptop or computer with old browsers can also hinder loading times. Finally, the website might be undergoing maintenance or is having server problems. 

How does Autotrader make money?

Autotrader primarily makes money off the sellers who pay to advertise their vehicles on the site. However, they also have other services such as Accelerate and loan packages which also brings in income to the platform.

What percentage of people will drive farther for a great salesperson according to Autotrader?

In a study conducted by Autotrader in 2015, it found out that a whopping 73% of people are willing to travel farther just for a great salesperson.

Why do people on Autotrader want you to email them?

Sellers want you to email them to facilitate the sale of their vehicle. However, some scammers also use this method so they can send you malicious emails that ask for your personal information, so you must be careful when trying to contact a seller.

What are websites similar to Autotrader?

There are a lot of websites similar to Autotrader. Some of these are Cars.com, CarGurus.com, and even Ebay. While they offer the same buy-and-sell process, they also have different features and pricing for advertisements.

How do scammers work on Autotrader?

There are various ways scammers use to dupe buyers in Autotrader. One is trying to get your email so they can malicious emails requesting personal information like passwords. Another is using a legitimate company’s identity to facilitate a fake buy to take your money.

What happened to Autotrader?

Autotrader as a service has undergone lots of changes since its inception in 1977. From being a plain buy and sell magazine for cars, it has now evolved into a full-service platform where you can also avail of insurance packages, consume content and articles, and even get loans.

Buying and Selling

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about using the Autotrader platform for both buying and selling cars.

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How to advertise on Autotrader?

Advertising on Autotrader is simple. You just need to create an account, input information about the vehicle you are selling, and choose among the advertising packages available for your car.

How much does it cost to advertise on Autotrader?

Depends. The longer you want the advertisement to run, the higher usually the price. Prices can start as low as $25 and can go up to $75.

How to sell your car on Autotrader?

You can start selling a car immediately after you have created an account with Autotrader. You will just need to put your car’s details on the platform, and choose how long you want the advertisement to run.

What is my car worth on Autotrader?

This will depend on a lot of factors such as mileage, physical condition, year, make and model, and so forth. Luckily, you can also browse Autotrader to find similar cars to get an idea of the market value of your vehicle.

How long to sell car on Autotrader?

This depends on your current needs and goals for selling. The longer your ad runs on the platform, the higher the chances of people seeing it. However, if it’s too long, it can be buried among other ads as well. 

How do I edit my ad on Autotrader?

Editing an ad that is already up on the Autotrader website is easy. Once you place an ad, you’ll receive an email link together with an edit option. You will also find the edit link on the homepage of Autotrader.

How much to sell my car on Autotrader?

You will need to get an idea of the market price for your vehicle’s exact make and model. From there, you can factor in variable information like mileage, physical condition, and others to get as much return for your car as possible.

How much does Autotrader charge to sell your car?

Autotrader does not charge you anything to sell your car, as it has no right over your car. Autotrader charges only for advertising your car, the prices of which depends on how long you want to run the ad.

How to add Carfax report to Autotrader ad?

You can add carfax report to your vehicle information once you start filling out the fields for your Autotrader ad. Carfax reports are very useful in determining the history of a unit, which can make your buyers trust your ad more.

How to see how long a car has been on Autotrader?

You can readily see on an Autotrader advertisement how long it has been listed. For new advertisements that have been listed the past 7 days or less, it will be marked as new listing.

What are some tips on how to sell a used car according to Autotrader?

According to Autotrader, there are 7 ways to ensure you have a good chance of having your car bought. You should be committed to the process, do your research, write a compelling description, load the headline with keywords, use lots of photos, be responsive, and communicate with the buyer.

How to rank higher on Autotrader?

The easiest way to rank is to purchase a premium ad package from Autotrader. However, you can also use lots of keywords in your headline so you’ll appear in searches, and also make a detailed description with lots of photos.

What is the difference between premium listings and featured listings on Autotrader?

Premium listing places your ad at the very top of search results and has the maximum amount of information available to entice buyers. Featured listing is one step below, giving you high rankings but a little less information for buyers.

Which level of ad for Autotrader should I buy?

This will depend on your timeline. If you want your car to be bought fast, then you could invest in premium listing. If you can afford to wait for the best offer, then you could consider regular or featured listing.

How to see old Autotrader advert?

There’s no official way to search for an ad on Autotrader that has already expired. However, you can use the save search option if you want to try to search for an ad about a specific car that you’ve seen in the past for as long as it is still active.

How to advertise with Autotrader and get the best results?

While you can choose the Premium listing option on Autotrader to boost the visibility of your ad, you should also focus on including keywords on your ad title and description, as well as add lots of photos on your ad to ensure that it will rank high on search results.

How to sell a car on Autotrader safely?

While there is no platform that can guarantee 100% safety, you can take some steps to ensure that your buyers are legitimate. One is to gather as much information about your buyer as possible. You can also ask the reason why they want to buy, and should you ever meet, do so in a public place.

How to renew Autotrader ad?

Renewing an Autotrader ad is easy. Once you place an ad on Autotrader, you’ll receive an ad link through email. Clicking this ad link will enable you to make all kinds of changes to your ad, including renewing it should your first ad package expires.

How to edit ad in Autotrader mobile app?

The Autotrader app was designed to be easy to use for buyers and sellers. To edit an ad, you just need to simply click the Manage Ad tab and it will give you options on how to edit your ad like adding pictures or changing ad description.