Following is my list of the best Internet sites to use when buying or selling used cars in Australia, in no particular order.
When searching on any classifieds web site I recommend using the advanced search facility that most sites have.
Also, be aware that sometimes sellers don't always enter the right information so searching by all means possible may find you a car that noone else has found because it is incorrectly categorised or misspelt. This could help you get a good deal on car you want.Drive
This web sites draws its ads from various newspapers throughout Australia (SMH in Sydney) as well as offering the option of Internet only advertising. Usually associated with the more prestige makes and models.
Drive's search engine is quite good, allowing you to search for an entire model series, or a specific model variant (you usually need to switch to the advanced search option). Unfortunately Drive recently dropped their search for multiple models at the same time feature.
Cost to advertise is: Internet only from $19.80; Internet and newspaper $varies.Trading Posts's Auto Trader
More orientated towards the cheaper end of the market. Ads come from Trading Post's various classifieds newspapers as well as Internet only advertising.
The search facility appears quite good, allowing you to search for multiple makes and models simultaneously which can be quite useful if you bookmark regular searches. However from my experience their search often fails to show some relevant ads. I suspect this may be a problem more with the way the seller placed their ad but I also found their system flawed when I recently advertised a car for sale.
I would recommend that when searching that in addition to using their make/model search that you also search by keywords (the search box near the top of each page). But the keywords search has a few problems of it's own. Try searching for BMW 318IS... You get everything with BMW 318I as well.
Cost to advertise: Internet only from $19.95; Internet/newspaper from $29.95.Carsales
A very successful Internet only source of classified advertising for all types of vehicles.
The search facility is very good, allowing you to specify an exact vehicle model variant if required.
One problem is the fact that advertisers must select a specific make and model variant from Carsales's database which is (a) not always accurate, and (b) probably confusing to some sellers who find it difficult to select the right model. The fact that you can't change your make/model/variant later doesn't help either. And you have to pay upfront for your ad, so if you find your model doesn't exist you have already paid and can't exit the process.
How many times do you see people having to add to their Carsales ads things like "1996 model not 1994", "manual not automatic" or "model is 318IS not 318I"?
It would also be nice if they would combine their private and dealer listings.
That all said, Carsales is still one of the best.
Cost to advertise: Internet only $30.Carsguide
Carsguide offers ads from various newspapers (Daily Telegraph in Sydney) as well as offering Internet only advertising.
Their power search is quite good and allows you to search for up to three makes and models simultaneously.
The only negative thing is that on the search results page you cannot right click on ads to bring them up in a separate window or tab. A little annoying if you like to bring up several ads at the same time like I do.
Some of the newspaper ads are brief and text only so are not always very informative.
Cost to advertise: Internet only from $9.95, newspaper $varies.eBay Motors
eBay have various ways of selling a car: auction, reserve price auction, buy now, buy now with best offer, or classifieds format.
The search facilities are quite good and there are various ways to search. Searching by keywords is usually best but some foolish sellers neglect to include their proper make and model in the title which is the only field searched unless buyers search by title and description (no point in putting important keywords is the optional sub-title).
Personally I think auction selling with a very low starting bid usually means that a seller will probably get a sale but at a low price. Unless you just want to get rid of car at any price I would recommend using eBay more as a classified ad with a buy now/best offer or classified ad.
Cost to advertise: Internet only, various methods, from $5.Other Sites
Carsales recently bought Carpoint
and they seem to share ads so there doesn't seem much point in searching both sites.
Many web sites (like Yahoo) have deals with some of the big companies above (like Drive and Carsales) to show their ads.
There are plenty of places to advertise cars free on the Internet.
If you find a message board or forum that deals with your make and model it can pay off advertising their but many of these sites dislike people coming once to their site just to advertise something so either delete the ad or don't allow access for new users.
Other free classifieds sites are generally pretty useless but if you have the time and inclination then won't cost you anything (except spam possibly).