Autotrader.com seeks to be the ultimate solution in buying and selling certified, new and used cars. Serving customers for over 18 years, Autotrader.com provides a large selection of automobiles from both nationwide and local dealers and private sellers. The company also provides friendly customer service and tons of valuable research and comparison tools, reviews, and help with financing, warranties, and car insurance.

Autotrader.com provides car search and membership services completely free of charge. 

Keep reading for pros and cons, plus Autotrader reviews from real users. 

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The Good

  • Great Features & Tools
  • Sell or Trade-In Your Car
  • Great Search & Profiles

Great Features & Tools

Autotrader.com features a comprehensive menu of features to help you select the right new or used car for your unique needs and style. There are hundreds of informative and up-to-date articles and reviews on a wide array of vehicles to choose from. Autotrader.com offers a diverse collection of features and benefits including:

  • Over 3 million vehicles in inventory from local and nationwide dealers and sellers
  • Buying and selling tips
  • Research and comparison tools with photos, videos, and reviews
  • Discounts and specials
  • Financing tools such as a Monthly Payment Calculator and Affordability Calculator
  • Warranty programs
  • Free car insurance quotes through Geico.com
  • Safety and vehicle history reports.

While we're on the subject of being prepared, AutoTrader has an array of tools and resources to better equip consumers to purchase or trade-in their car. Many of these tools are pretty standard in the auto website niche, but it always counts as a plus when several are included on the same site because it makes the car research and buying process so much more convenient.

Consumers on AutoTrader.com can find how much they would have to pay on an auto loan with the auto loan calculator. (AutoTrader also offers car loans, so the two go conveniently hand in hand). If you are trading in a car, the calculator shows you how much the traded car's value will impact loan payments. The calculator tool also allows consumers to find out what their car is worth to get an instant cash offer from AutoTrader's Trade-In Marketplace.

Sell or Trade-In Your Car

Placing an ad to sell a vehicle ranges from $25-$100. If you would like to receive expert help, VIP services are available from $159 to $289. These VIP packages include benefits such as pricing advice, privacy shields, solicitor blocking, and call screening, title transfer document services, and much more.

Trade-in offers are available by filling out a short questionnaire. An instant cash offer is generated immediately and sent to the requester's email and is valid for up to 72 hours. After a local dealer does an inspection on the vehicle, the instant cash offer can then be redeemed by cash or check or towards the purchase of another vehicle.

AutoTrader's Trade-In Marketplace allows car owners to trade their car in with what seems like 3 easy steps:

  • Step One: Tell AutoTrader about the car to be traded in and get a cash offer backed by AutoTrader.
  • Step Two: Visit a participating Trade-In Dealer and get a final offer.(Cash offer is based on the dealer's own car inspection report)
  • Step Three: Trade in Car or redeem final offer for cash.

This is compatible for the average car owner who has little working knowledge of cars or how to trade one in. Another likable aspect is that you're not locked into a deal or a price until the very end (i.e. Step three).

Car Search & Profiles

When car shoppers visit the AutoTrader.com website, the first option they get on the homepage is a "Find Cars for Sale" tool to research and compare new, certified and used cars by selecting their desired body type, mileage, price, and numerous other criteria. 

Be sure to select a price (and a price that is more than 4 figures) to get search results. Otherwise, no results will pull up.

Once on the results page, the site allows visitors to narrow down their search with more specific car specifications like mileage, minimum to maximum price range and minimum to maximum year range.

Each car or vehicle has a range of clear professional-quality pictures showcasing the car's front, rear, side, interior, and exterior.

Each car profile allows visitors to get a vehicle history by clicking the CARFAX icon positioned below the car photo. Just as useful are the car details provided upon clicking on the car profile. Some of the details include:

  • Exterior color/ interior color
  • Gasoline Mileage for City and Highway
  • Cylinder Type
  • Transmission type
  • Drive type (i.e. two-wheel drive)
  • Current mileage (i.e. 40,000 miles) for used cars

If the car is being sold by a car dealership, this page also provides the dealer's address and has an email sheet to email them directly. The "Find Your Car Your Way" page is really thorough, with additional specifications to choose from, including Basic Specifications:

  • Location
  • Condition
  • Price
  • Style
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Trim

Bonus Specifications:

  • Convenience/Comfort (3rd-row seats, backup camera, power locks, etc)
  • Entertainment/Technology (CD Player, Hands-free Blue Tooth, DVD player, Navigation, etc)
  • Luxury (Heated Seats, sunroof, leather seats, etc)
  • Miscellaneous (Disability-equipped, Trailer Hitch, etc)
  • Type of Seller (Dealers only, Private Sellers only, Trade-in Marketplace Dealers)

These specifications narrow the car search down significantly, filtering out what could become an overwhelming list of car listings to comb through. This means that the more the buyer knows about what they want, the better the search tool will work for them. It also prepares buyers before engaging dealers. They have all the information they need-from car history to CD player—to increase the chances they will get what they want for the price they want.

The Bad

  • Search Can Become Convoluted
  • Restrictions and Stipulations
  • No Information on Car Loans

Search Can Become Convoluted

One thing about the 3 million plus car listings is that you can easily get lost when searching for a car. Visitors should avoid searching for a car on the "Find Cars for Sale" tool on the Homepage, as it will pull up both new and used cars together, making your search convoluted. Instead, as previously suggested, select the Cars for Sale tab which will give you a thorough specification list.

Restrictions and Stipulations

Another thing: new traders need to understand that the Trade-in tool/feature is that it really isn't as simple as 1-2-3. Here's why:

  • Trade-In Marketplace is not available in all areas and not all vehicles are eligible for offers.
  • Instant Cash Offer is valid for 72 hours at participating dealerships.
  • Autotrader will not redeem Instant Cash Offers nor purchase customer's vehicle.
  • The offer is generated using an appraisal tool and it may not reflect the highest sale price or trade-in value for the vehicle.
  • Vehicle must pass a mandatory vehicle inspection by a participating dealer. If the inspection report differs from customer's description or online assessment of their vehicle's condition, the participating dealer may adjust the offer amount, which may mean decreasing the offer amount.
  • Participating dealers are not owned or operated by, nor are they affiliated with or acting on behalf of, Autotrader.
  • Autotrader holds no liability resulting from an adjustment of the offer or refusal to accept the vehicle by participating dealer(s).

There are even more details and restrictions, but the gist is that a better option would probably be a site that specializes in direct used car trade-ins with less small print stipulations, such as AuctionDirectUSA.com. The main issue that has popped up repeatedly in complaints is in regards to confusion concerning the 100 percent money back refund guarantee policy on advertisement fees if a vehicle does not sell within 90 days after placing an advertisement. As a result of these misunderstandings, Autotrader.com has discontinued the money back guarantees of this month. There are no official replacement offers at this time.

No Information on Car Loans

One other downside is that there appears to be no information on car loans on the site. When you click on loan on the navigation bar, you are lead to the website roadloans.com to apply for a car loan. Being able to get information on the various types of loans available and interest rates would be extremely valuable. One last recommendation is to upgrade user-friendliness. The iPhone app appears to have poor usability with only a 1.5 rating. The website also could run a speed diagnostic test. Modifying your search on the used car listings proves to be quite a chore. Very slow to upload.

The Bottom Line

One word describes AutoTrader.com: comprehensive. To date, the site has the biggest new and used car listing selection online. The plus is that there is so much to choose from and the minus is that it can be too much to choose from. The site answers this, however, with its "Find Your Car Your Way" page with a serious list of specifications to hone your search down to even minor details.

AutoTrader.com's list of research tools and information resources provide consumers with a full, qualified shopping experience.

Could the site use an upgrade to improve its apps and uploading time? Sure.

Has it proved that it fulfills its promise to its 14 million qualified buyers each month? Absolutely.

Overall, Autotrader.com appears to be an excellent comprehensive and trusted way to shop online.

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User Reviews

Star Rating

4.4
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29 Reviews

Review Breakdown

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Dwhoush

February 25th, 2020 Slidell, LA

I love autotrader because of its ability to search any make or model car within a certain distance and with specific features. It also has private sellers on there as well so it’s easy to find something you may like.

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Customer

February 21st, 2020 Saratoga Springs, UT

Great research tool to use finding a car. Website was easy to use and plenty of inventory. Easy to narrow search.

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Cim Carver

February 21st, 2020 Cheyenne, WY

Whenever we have been in the market for a car, Autotrader is always one of the sites we use. Easy to use and great information.

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Kilee Wagner

February 18th, 2020 Eagle Mountain, UT

Was great in helping us find the best car possible and we ended up finding what we were looking for!

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AmyConder22

February 18th, 2020 Eagle Mountain, UT DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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We used auto trader to get our Chevy Cavalier and had a great experience at finding exactly what we wanted.

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Justin McMurtrey

February 18th, 2020 South Jordan, UT DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Autotrader is great for researching vehicles and to see comparable prices. It has great options to also get qualified for loans.

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Lori Fletcher

February 13th, 2020 Saratoga Springs, UT

Great place to do research on cars because of how much information they provided about the cars verses others. We always came back to autotrader because they seemed to have every car there.

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Eddie Rios

February 5th, 2020 Ogden, UT DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Autotrader has been invaluable at finding car buying options. I am impressed with the portal. It is easy to navigate and find useful options and services. I wouldn't not trade it for anything. Auto trader just keeps getting better and better!

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Angelina Hamilton

February 4th, 2020 Gulfport, MS

I like how I can narrow down what I am looking for in a new car. If there are certain features I’m looking for I can narrow it down. I would not have found my current car if it wasn’t for this!

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Audrey Mitchell

February 3rd, 2020 Managua, MN

Autotrader is a great company to use when wanting to see the value of your car before selling it or trading it in. They have trustworthy price checks and give you decent quotes for your vehicles.

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Jane Collins

January 28th, 2020 Long Beach, MS

Autotrader is my favorite site to find vehicles. You can search by zip code, price, mileage, special features, etc. it has the most pics of any car search site.

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Tiffany I

January 20th, 2020 Washington, DC DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Great tool for finding used cars. I was searching for a specific car and checking daily. They sent me automatic alerts for the ones I wanted.

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Louis pierocich

January 13th, 2020 Long Beach, MS

Used it several times to find. New to me vehicle. Always helpful at finding where to look in person.

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De Ciantis

December 31st, 2019 Pittsburgh, PA DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Easy to use with a fine guidance system to list your vehicle with all the pertinent information

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KEVIN POSEY

December 12th, 2019 DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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I have had good luck with Auto Trader buying and selling cars so I prefer to stick with a Comany I like and trust.

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Anonymous

December 12th, 2019 DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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They have the best filters-- easiest to use. it glitches less than the other sites

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Jill J.

December 12th, 2019 DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Website is user-friendly but for some reason attracts people who are asking ridiculously exorbitant prices for their used cars. But the worst thing about Autrader is that you Can't. Get. Rid. Of.Them. Their website doesn't have any option for users to unsubscribe and they send you unwanted e-mail every day from here to eternity.

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Mike Tierney

December 12th, 2019 DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Followed and found the specialty car I was looking for. I used other sites like iseecars which was great too. But it seemed Auto Traderhad the best description and pricing of any site.

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Kenneth McWhorter

December 12th, 2019 DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Easy to search for cars and a large selection. I have purchased a vehicle as a result of locating it on this site form a dealership.

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Juan

December 4th, 2019 Beaver, PA

I posted my car on here before. I did get some inquiries but no one bought it. I do often use this site to find cars im interested in and it shows me cars in the area.

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KayCee Belka

October 11th, 2019 Derby, KS DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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We used Autotrader when we were looking for our vehicles upon returning home after a few years overseas. It was so convenient to be able to search for cars with so many detailed filters... make, model, price, location, miles, and even color. We were very happy with our experience with Autotrader and will use them again.

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Don Boren

October 9th, 2019 American Fork, UT DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Easy to enter your search criteria. Lots of dealers on this site. I would like an option to weed them out and show only private sellers

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Mark Waldron

August 5th, 2019 Spring Hill, FL DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Lost my password and have been locked out. I've contacted them at least 3 times and BEGGED to have them stop emailing me. They won't stop. Wish I could sue them.

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Gary

July 30th, 2019 Princeton, IL

I used autotrader as my personal adviser. All I had to do was look up auto traders price and use that as my base line.

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Katie Kearney

December 6th, 2018 Vienna, VA

My husband and I used Autotrader a lot when we were looking for a new truck for him. It was easy to navigate through and we had a lot of options to look at. It's a good site!

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Eric

November 19th, 2018 San Diego, CA DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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Auto Reader is a great resource for finding and researching vehicle types. I think its important to explore all avenues when car shopping. I had a great experience using this service and cannot complain. I cant recall any specifics but it definitely is one of the sites that helped me decide on my current vehicle choice. A great resource for gaining auto knowledge.

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Kathie Bowman

November 16th, 2018 Lakeside, CA DETAILS arrow_drop_down
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I have used Autotrader to search for a car. The website was very easy to use and locate cars

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Sara Jane

July 26th, 2018 Crestwood, KY

Autotrader used to be all for sale by owner. Not so any more. Its all dealers now. Hard to find good deals among all the ads from those dealers.

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Trent

April 30th, 2018 Provo, UT

easy site to use. There are tons of available cars on the site

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