What are the Best Sites for Buying a Car Online?

Used car prices in Australia jumped by 21 per cent in 2021 with the low inventories and a continued shortage of new vehicles fuelling the rise.

In an August 2022 report, Moody’s Analytics said prices were set to increase again in 2022 but by a more modest 3.6 per cent before they start to slip back in 2023.

We decided to “take a test drive” of the best sites for buying a car online and see how they compare.

We wanted to see how many of the same year, make and model are available on each website because that would be comparing apples with apples, right? And what is the median price of that same vehicle on each site? Is there a significant disparity?

We haven’t seen this sort of test done in Australia before and thought it might be not only fun, but illuminating. Additionally, with Moody’s suggesting that prices for used cars might start to pull back in 2023, it would be interesting to seen how the most popular car buying websites fair in terms of listing and prices.

Testing Approach

Our rather non-scientific approach was as follows.

We know that most new car leases are three, four or five years in length and we’ve noticed that more dealership used cars are available after three years, rather than four or five.

So we assume that means more people choose a standard three year car lease and then return it at the end. Hence more three year old cars in inventory and available online.

We chose to use a 2019 used Toyota Hilux as our test model. According to both CarsGuide and Budget Direct, it was the best selling new vehicle in 2019.

The Toyota Hilux continues to be in demand because of its durability and styling upgrade. Any of the car shopping sites would likely have a decent inventory of three year old 2019 Hiluxes from which to choose.

We didn’t restrict location at all and let the car buying websites select from all listings Australia-wide. Our rationale for this was because, buying a used car interstate has become an easy, easy process and shipping the vehicle back home is no longer a challenge.

2019 Toyota Hilux – New Pricing

Toyota Hilux has ‘reigned supreme” since 2016 to become Australia’s top-selling new vehicle for seven years running.

This 2019 model included a subtle new grille design and a much-publicised DPF burn-off switch.

The new car entry prices (exclusive of on-road costs) came in at $21,865 for the 2.7-litre petrol 4×2 WorkMate manual single cab chassis to a little over $64,000 for the top-of-the-range 2.8-litre turbodiesel 4×4 Rugged X automatic.

We chose to shop for a high-end 2019 Toyota Hilux SR5 Dual Cab Auto on eight of the biggest online car buying sites in Australia – all on the same day. How did they compare?

Cartopia

There was 1 car matched on Cartopia – It’s price was $54,990.

Cars For Sale

There was 1 car that matched on Cars For Sale – It’s price was $54,990.

FindAds

There were 137 cars matched on FindAds. The median price was $57,540.

Trading Post

There were 6 cars matched on Trading Post. The median price was $59,990.

Drive

There were 59 cars matched on Drive. The median price was $55,980.

Autotrader

There were 56 cars matched on Autotrader. The median price was $57,990.

CarsGuide

There were 56 cars matched on CarsGuide. The median price was $57,880.

GumTree

There were 70 cars matched on GumTree. The median price was $56,990.

Carsales

There were 166 cars matched on Carsales. The median price was $59,000.

Best Car Buying WebSites Recommendations

Out of our list of nine used car buying websites, we found six that were worth using.

They are in order of our largest volume of matches: Carsales, FindAds and Gumtree. Cartopia, Cars For Sale and Trading Post didn’t seem to offer any new vehicles that weren’t listed on the six.

Regardless of where you find your car, if you need to ship it, visit Car Transport Services to request and compare quotes from competitive and professional carriers.

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