Craigslist is one of those sites that I personally consider one of the best places to buy and sell stuff on the internet. Or get free stuff for that matter (like Tampa Craiglist’s free section).
Cars get listed all the time on Craigslist, but unfortunately when performing a search specifically for used vehicles, it sometimes takes a while to find exactly what you’re looking for. You most likely have a price range in mind, a specific make and model you want, but constantly get blasted with everything you don’t want in the search results.
By using a few simple tricks, you can eliminate a lot of the crap out of the listings.
1. Never use zero as your lowest preferred price
If you’re looking for an old fixer-upper between $0 and $3,000, don’t start at zero because slimy car dealers always put those “1 DOLLAR DOWN GETS YOU THIS CAR!” listings. Set your minimum to $500.
2. Searching “title only” usually gets much better results
For each search there is the ability to search “entire post” or “title only”. The former is selected by default. Use “title only” instead.
3. The negative operator is your friend
This one is best shown by example. If you were searching for a Toyota Corolla, but absolutely do not want to see any listings for crashed cars (these show up a lot on Craigslist), you would perform the search “corolla -crash -crashed”. Works like a charm.
4. The OR operator is your friend
This one is particularly useful when you’re looking for a range of years for a specific car.
Let’s say I wanted to find S-10 pickup trucks between the years of 2000 through 2004. I would perform this search:
The above search literally translates to: “S10 OR S-10 AND 2000 OR 2001 OR 2002 OR 2003 OR 2004″
And if I wanted to get even more fancy, I eliminate Blazer (a model of S-10 which is an SUV and not a pickup):
S10|S-10 2000|2001|2002|2003|2004 -blazer
5. Use quotes to search for exact-phrase matches
This one I only recommend using if you want to get very specific, because sometimes it can end up in no listings being returned from a search.
For example, “toyota corolla” will return exact matches for that phrase. But if someone misspelled their listing as “toyotta corolla”, you won’t see those listings because they don’t match your exact-match phrase search.
The PCMech.com weekly newsletter has been running strong for over 8 years. Sign up to get tech news, updates and exclusive content - right in your inbox. Also get (several) free gifts.