Should I Buy and Sell Cars on Craigslist?

August 21st, 2018 by

Couple buying car from dealership

If you live in the Portland area, odds are good you’ve bought or sold something on Craigslist – or know someone who has. Craigslist can be a great tool for connecting with people who want what you have, or who want to sell something you need. When it comes to used cars, however, it’s best to proceed with caution.

Buying Cars on Craigslist vs. Dealership

Buying a car on Craigslist means doing quite a bit of legwork, making calls, and juggling schedules until you can arrange a time to test drive the vehicle that works for both of you. And that’s just one of the ways buying from a dealership will save you time:


  • Trade-in Options
  • In-House Financing
  • Test Drive on Your Time
  • Long-range Test Drive to Wilsonville and Eugene
  • Certified Pre-Owned Options
  • We Do the Paperwork
  • Legal Protections (Lemon Laws)


  • No Trades
  • Finance First, then Find the Car
  • No Warranties
  • Buy As-Is
  • You Do the Paperwork

Selling Cars on Craigslist vs. Dealership

Selling your vehicle to a private party can be a challenge as well, and not just because you’ll have to sit around and wait for the potential buyer to show up for a test drive – if they ever do. There are other considerations when selling your car privately as well, including being held responsible for any damage the buyers does with your vehicle before they transfer ownership. Let’s say, for example, that you sell your vehicle and the new owner hits a parked car in Keizer and drives off. If they haven’t transferred the title, you could be on the hook as the legal owner.  If they never transfer the title, you’ll receive emissions notices until they do, or until you file the paperwork to declare the vehicle sold.

When you sell your car to the dealership, they are required to complete that paperwork fast – and at their expense – so you can rest easier knowing that if it falls off a truck in Albany, you’re free from any kind of responsibility.

How to Avoid Getting Scammed When Buying Used

Obviously, we’re not big fans of using private ads to sell your pre-owned car; there are too many things that can go wrong, from a potential buyer wrecking your vehicle to outright theft that leaves you without a car and no money to show for it.  If you are committed to going the Craigslist route, however, there are steps you can take to avoid being scammed:

  • Get a vehicle history report
  • Have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic you trust
  • Inspect the car for leaks and damage
  • Ask for service records
  • Insist on a test drive
  • File your paperwork ASAP

While you can generally count on a pre-owned Mazda to run reliably for easily 100,000 miles or more even if they haven’t been properly cared for, taking these steps before the purchase will save you from years of potential regret after the purchase.

Posted in Tips