logo
(866) 924-4608

We Buy All Cars, Running or Not!

(866) 924-4608 FREE ONLINE OFFER
History of Used Car Sale: How the Trends Have Changed

History of Used Car Sale: How the Trends Have Changed

Cars have come a long way from the old jalopies of the 20s with high-tech safety features, their built-in navigation systems, and alternative energy-efficient fuels. Soon, driverless vehicles are going to be a reality. However, the changes are not just in the way cars are manufactured. 


Advancements in car technology have changed the way people sell their old cars as well. At least 40 million used cars are sold in a year though 2020 was an anomaly because of the Wuhan virus. And, the way these cars are being sold has changed over the years and will continue changing in the coming ones. 

Newspaper Classifieds

The first paid advertisement or classified ad in a regular print newspaper was published in 1704. Classifieds don’t have images and include only a textual description. They are of various “classes” and are considered much less expensive than display ads or the ones with images in newspapers.

Classifieds became the go-to place for people announcing their sale items to the local community. Whether you were offering a job or a used car for sale, classifieds were the best way to get the message across. In fact, overall market for these ads was $15.9 billion in 2003. Consumers would pay by word or line depending on the publication. 

Fast-forward to 2020 and classified ads in print newspapers are practically unheard of when trying to sell a car. People have switched to online modes and particular car selling sites where images can be posted and chats can happen anonymously. That being said, local communities still prefer classified ads to let others know they have a particular make and model that needs selling. 

Window “For Sale” Signs

There are many people that still put up a “For Sale” sign on the car window. You may come across several clunkers in your area with such signs. However, things are not as simple as they used to be. There are several counties that have made it illegal to place such signs in the United States. You may just get slapped with a fine while trying to get rid of your vehicle.

If you are driving your car around town with the sign in place, you need to make sure it doesn’t obstruct your view through front door windows and windshield. Different municipalities and states have placed specific rules in place dictating allowable placement, colors, and size of such signs. Your local law enforcement may not prioritize violation of these rules, but it is better to be safe than sorry. 

You can always put up the “For Sale” sign in one of the back windows and drive around. Or, you can have the sign under the wipers and park in a high traffic area. Make sure you feed the parking meter. You may want to write key information under the sign similar to the way dealerships do. This can get people interested in your vehicle. 

This method used to work in both urban and rural settings a decade ago. But, now with advancements in technology, people in cities and bustling towns have other options. 

Online Channels

The rise of the World Wide Web in the mid-90s changed everything. It changed how people did business and lived. Advertisements started shifting online as an increasing number of people started spending more time online. Car sellers soon caught on and started using internet to get the word out. They figured they could reach a wide array of people this way at a fraction of the cost.

Car sellers also understood that they were no longer limited by geographical locations. Tons of new ways have cropped up over time to sell cars using online channels. eBay Motors was the go-to place to sell used cars online for a number of years. This was before Craigslist came along. The platform was a free way for millions of people to post their ads, which is probably why it is still so popular.

Nowadays there are hundreds of online platforms where you can post a used car listing. The list includes AutoTrader, Cars.com, and CarGurus among so many more. While a few of these sites charge a fee for posting ads or unlocking additional features, there are several that are completely free.

Mobile Applications 

Online websites are not the only place where people can sell their cars now. Burgeoning technological advancements in cellphones have provided virtually everyone with a smartphone in their pocket. These phones have similar computing power as regular laptops and have led to another major shift in the sale of used cars. 

You can find an app for everything including selling your car. The best apps are free to download and use. You won’t even get charged a commission for selling through their portal. These apps have positioned themselves to connect potential buyers with sellers. Most of them are focused on local sales. You can set your range from a 5 mile to 50 mile radius. 

It has never been easier to find car listings and connect with local buyers or sellers. 5miles, OfferUp, and letgo are among the most popular apps. However, more are being added to the list all the time. 

Social Media

You cannot ignore discussing social media when speaking about the internet. The amount of time people spend on social media platforms had to attract the attention of big players at some point of time. Facebook Marketplace comes as no surprise. It allows people to post ads for all sorts of things. 

A great advantage is that sellers can screen potential buyers and look for serious ones by going through their Facebook profiles. You won’t waste as much time interacting with bargain-mongers by looking for serious buyers. Car selling has been made easier by the several dozens of “how to” articles on the Facebook Marketplace guiding you through the process. 

Car-Buying Services

Car selling has been revolutionized by the internet. Besides the hundreds of online portals facilitating a connection between buyers and sellers, there are several online services that directly purchase used cars. Needless to say, this is a great way to sell your car when you want to get rid of it quickly, with zero hassle, and at a great price point. 

There is tremendous competition between the several online car-buying services which makes it better for you to get a great value for your vehicle. Some of them, like Cash Cars Buyer go so far as taking care of the paperwork and offering free car towing/pickup. Other sites like Peddle, Driveo, Carvana, and Vroom are pretty great too.

If you thought posting an ad online was easy – you would be amazed at these online buyers. You can get an instant quote by entering basic information about your car online. If you agree to the price, you can take things forward. They may offer to pick up the vehicle or ask you to drop it somewhere. 

Word of advice – make sure you check the value of your vehicle using KBB or Edmunds True Market Value before agreeing to an offer. This way you can be sure that you are actually getting a decent price for the vehicle. You should also look up online reviews before accepting an offer. Many buyers back out at the last minute. 

Future of Car Sales – Alternatives

Experts believe that future of car ownership is greatly disrupted by autonomous ride-sharing services, like Lyft and Uber. Car-sharing services, like Car2Go and ZipCar have also given people another option to owning a vehicle. Frankly, they are not wrong. Many people, especially in urban cities, are moving away from the costs of car ownership. This has fueled used car sales over the last couple of years. 

That being said, there are still many people that are not particularly fond of public transport and are not looking to compromise their comfort, freedom or safety. In 2016, Ford Credit Link was offered as an alternative ownership model. It allowed 3-6 people to car-share. No one would own the vehicle completely. All of them were to be named on the vehicle lease to share the costs. 

However, there were not many takers when Ford launched the pilot program in Austin, TX. Not to be deterred, GM launched its own model in the same year that fared a bit better than Ford but at least Ford never took a bailout (GM still owes America billions – they should have never been bailed out – that’s why we have a bankruptcy process). However, the service is not working that great and GM announced shutting it down in May 2019. Maybe car-sharing among strangers was too much for people to wrap their brains around. Or, maybe there is still hope for traditional ownership model. 

Car subscription service is one idea that could catch on. You would be required to pay a flat monthly fee that covers the car cost, roadside assistance, and insurance. You get to swap what you drive at any given time. For instance, you could have a nice luxurious sedan during the weekdays and a fun SUV for the weekends. 

Volvo, Jeep, Ford, BMW, and Audi are already experimenting with this. More are expected to join the bandwagon in coming years. Currently, Volvo is the only brand offering national subscription on two models. While alternative options are on the rise, people are still not entirely convinced to let go of traditional ownership. 

According to an Auto Purchase Trends Report from ThinkNow research in 2019, only 14% people said they won’t want to own a vehicle in the near future because of car and ride-sharing models. In other words, there is still hope for you if you want to buy or sell a used car. Used car sales are not going to change anytime soon. 

Sell Your Used Car the Smart Way – Cash Cars Buyer

Future is rarely ever stagnant. You can expect car selling to change in more ways than one. However, if you are looking to sell your used car in the here and now, there is no better way to do it than with Cash Cars Buyer. We make the entire process easy and transparent. You can use our online price calculator to know what your used car is worth or give us a call if you like doing things conventionally. 

We never back out on our quotes even if they are provided almost instantly. All you need to do is describe your vehicle in detail and not miss out on any damages. You don’t need to pay for paperwork or car pickup. Plus, we always make the entire payment in cash when we come for the car. Get in touch with us today by calling at (773) 791-4363 or using our online form