I think eBay is a great place to buy cars because you avoid all the hassle of calling up and visiting random people you don’t know and most of the time you end up seeing a complete lemon or having to haggle with someone you might cross the street from to avoid. With eBay you get the advantage of window shopping for your car PLUS can do the haggling before you even turn up. That way once you turn up you just check the car is exactly as described, give it a test drive, pay your cash and then away you go.
Misconceptions about using eBay to buy a car
- You cannot test drive before buying – WRONG. Firstly you can always contact the seller and test drive it before bidding (if it’s close enough to you). Secondly, if you bid, win and then test drive afterwards and find the car is not as described then you are under no obligation to go through with the deal. You still have to complete the necessary paperwork with the seller before it’s finalised and eBay’s policies allow you to refuse to go through with the purchase (you file a claim under the item not as described policy).
- You cannot see the car before paying – WRONG. Check the seller’s policies before bidding, but anyone who won’t let you see an expensive item like a car before paying should not be trusted and I would walk away.
- You cannot check if the car is legitimate before bidding – WRONG. There are a number of services that are out there (including state based and commercial ones such as checkitout) that allow you to check the identity of a vehicle, it’s mileage, whether there are financial incumbencies on it etc. using only a VIN number. eBay listings display the VIN number but if the seller hasn’t put it in then ask him for it (if they won’t give it to you then you know something is up).
There is the additional benefit eBay provides of having a clear record of the whole transaction. With something like the local paper, you have no proof of what discussions took place, who the seller was etc. but eBay has a clear record of all of this and in the event of any problems with your used car or the seller you have a great resource to use against them.
- If you can’t find the car you’re looking for, make sure to save it as a Favourite Search (which eBay then e-mails you when they become available).
- Ask the seller tons of questions, get comfortable with them.
- Use eBay’s safe trading tips
- Use third party verification sites
- Use your common sense – if it’s too good to be true it probably is
Hope that helps!