Beware of Autotrader

I have a 2016 Model S90 for sale, that I placed on Autotrader. I went through their listing process and entered all the required information, checked all the appropriate boxes, wrote my description and uploaded all my pictures. The next day the ad was approved and my car online. However, on the main search page, where people scroll down and decide which vehicles to select for further details, it showed my car having a range of 210 miles - front and center. I did not enter that. In fact, range was not even a value to enter during the listing process, it just showed up as an arbitrary number. While my car originally had a range of 274 miles when new, it now consistently gets 260 miles on a full charge. I immediately called Autotrader and insisted that the false number of 210 miles either be corrected to 260, or removed completely. I was told that this is what their system generates, and it couldn't be changed. She suggested that I add 260 miles of range in my vehicle description paragraph, which I had already done when first listing it. I explained to her that their 210 figure shows up on the initial, condensed information screen, right after mileage and color. This is the key information page that enables people to decide whether or not to click on an ad for further details. I told her that range is keenly important to electric cars, and that they were providing false advertising. It would be like having a car for sale with 20,000 miles, but Autotrader shows it having 40,000 miles on the initial search page, and then telling customers that this is what the system generates, and there is nothing that can be done about it.
I asked for a supervisor, and while on hold, I checked many other listings and found I was not alone. Many cars, even 100D's, showed 210 miles of range. To make matters worse, I noticed that on the left sidebar of their search page, one of the many search refinement options (year, color, mileage, etc), was "electric mileage range". Here, based on the available Model S's in my search area, you have two options: 201 - 250 miles, or 250+ miles. Of course when I clicked on the 250+ miles choice, my car doesn't even show up, it's under the 201 - 250 miles choice. So someone using this specific search feature wouldn't even know that my car existed!
The supervisor agreed with her colleague and said that she had no way to correct the problem. She admitted that they receive this complaint all the time and that they were working on it. I asked if it would be corrected tomorrow or next week, but she just kind of snickered and said that this problem goes way back. I told her that if they really wanted to fix this, their IT Department could make the software change in 15 seconds. She had no comment. I told her to cancel my ad and issue a full refund for $50. She agreed.
So what's going on with Autotrader. It's like they have an agenda to diminish the value of Teslas, or maybe EV's in general. It is owned by Cox Automotive, which is owned by Cox Enterprises, which also owns Black Book and Manheim Auto Auctions. Seems nefarious to me.
Other than and Craigslist, the other major online vehicle selling services are for dealers only. Any suggestions?


  • Thanks for the warning Karen. You did the right thing asking for the supervisor, accusing them of fraud, and threatening them.
  • Sorry to hear that. Facebook has a pretty vibrant Tesla crowd and for sale section.

    FWIW it’s also a problem with dealers, and Carvanna. They don’t always know what they have, so it’s an issue when trying to buy a car too.
  • I just checked Autotrader and selected "Tesla", and "Model S". Here's the URL with my search parameters:

    Here are a few results:

    2018 Model S P100D. Range 218 miles
    2012 Model S. Range 265 miles
    2017 Model S 75D. Range 210 miles
    2018 Model S AWD. Range 259 miles

    So I guess they've fixed it.
  • Dramsey, they haven't fixed anything. Go back to the URL that you provided and expand the search area to 200 miles. The go down to the Model S trim and select 100D. Ten 100D's come up and all ten of them show 210 miles of range.
  • @IflyI95 - Thanks for letting us know. I've updated my list of ways to sell to flag Autotrader as not recommended.
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