By Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

June 9, 2022
best place to look for used cars - ebay

Want to know how to buy a car through eBay? Read on...

Buying a car on ebay might seem like an interesting idea. I have purchased tons of bargains online on this marketplace. You can fetch a great deal if you look hard enough. 

However, can you buy a car through ebay and what are the risks involved in buying and how to avoid getting scammed as a potential buyer.

What is ebay?

eBay is one of the most popular online marketplaces in the world. It allows users to buy and sell items ranging from goods to services. eBay also allows users to find unique items, make deals with other buyers, and keep track of their auctions.

How to Buy a Car through eBay

ebay motors is the automotive section on ebay that lists anything and everything car related.

The good thing about eBay is that they have a pretty good system to protect buyers from purchases that did not meet their expectations. It is not as easy as Amazon but it does offer good support IF you stay within their ecosystem. Ebay's purchase protection has helped me resolve issues as a buyer in the past.

Buying Car on Ebay

Both buyers and sellers need to ensure they keep the transaction and messages on ebay.

TIP: Do NOT pay or communicate outside of the eBay system in order to have a record of all communication and transactions of your purchase. You might be out of luck if you make a deal outside of ebay's platform.

If it's your first time buying on ebay or you are relatively new, it might be a little scary purchasing a large ticket item online. However, like I mentioned before, as long as you stay within the eBay ecosystem there are safeguards in place.

eBay Motors Seller:

As mentioned in my free buying guide, you have some ground rules to follow. Try to purchase from a reputable seller. A reputable seller is a profile that has at least 50 transactions as a seller and buyer. 

Be very aware of accounts with less than 100 transactions as they might have racked up their ratings and feedback as a buyer only. You will want to review their account and how long they have operated. There are sellers that have years under their belt but you need to check for yourself. 

eBay Motors Listing:

If there is a reserve price, that means that the seller does not have to sell you the vehicle at the end of the auction if the price does not meet the reserve prices. 

I typically like to look at Buy It Now pricing to cut the chase and see exactly the price the seller is looking for. For listings or auction that have No-Reserve, this could be good too. However, I would HOLD OFF on bidding until the last 2-minutes of the auction. 

You will want to keep your cards close to your vest and not drive up a bidding frenzy days before the auction ends. Just bookmark it and set a reminder for yourself. 

Most of the time, used car dealers or consignment shops are posting on ebay to sell cars. One thing that works in your favor is that whatever price it is listed at, is typically what the bottomline is for the seller. 

When a car is listed on eBay, there are listing fees that are paid by the seller, whether or not the car actually sells. However, there are still things to keep in mind. 

TIP: If the price is too good to be true, it usually is. Beware of deals that seem too good. You will need to do your homework before you actually place your bid.  

How to buy a car on ebay out of state

Since ebay is nationwide, you most likely will have a vehicle out of state or at least a distance away. Don't let this stop you as you can find good deals across the nation. First things first, you should have already done your research on KBB.com or NADA.com for the marketprices of your vehicle. 

Once you are armed with that information, you can head over to ebay and click on eBay motors. There you can type in the make and model. I then typically sort or filter based on year and price. 

Things to Pay Attention to When Buying Car

On the ebay listing, you will see details about the car.

For me, the most important numbers to look at besides the price are the following:

  • Mileage
  • Owners
  • Vehicle Report

Everything else is subjective. Depending on the car history, I stray away from cars with more than 3 owners and anything with a rebuilt title. 

Why?

Too many unknown factors in play with that many owners and the damage history. These factors impact the resale value in the future if you ever decide to sell it to a private party. 

As for a vehicle report, most listings come with Autocheck, which is a good service but I typically look for a Carfax. You can pick up a Carfax for cheap using this little known secret for a big discount. I have used this service dozens of times and the report arrives in a few minutes. 

Inspection

Before you buy any car, you must inspect it. Because it is out of state, you won't be able to test drive the vehicle so the next best thing is to purchase an inspection. Whether you can do it on your own or hire a shop to do it, it's important to get eyes on the vehicle in person. There are services on ebay that provide inspection services with the listing. 

Other options that come highly recommended by industry experts is LemonSquad.com. They offer on site inspection for your vehicle and have gotten rave reviews. I believe they will check the car, take it for a test drive and report their finding. Check with their team for pricing. 

As for prices for inspections, plan for 1-2 hours work from a shop. If it's a quick review near you, you can buy a cheap OBD scanner and take it with you to scan the car. Otherwise, a shop will be able to check all the systems and provide their recommendations on what needs to be fixed. 

No used car is perfect but there are things that can be addressed later on with your ownership. 

You will need to speak to the seller, it's best if you can call them to coordinate a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) or inspection by a third party like LemonSquad.com. A few hundred dollars is totally worth the investment to avoid huge headaches in the future. 

I would definitely wait for the inspection report before bidding or buying the vehicle in order to determine future repair costs and overall condition of it. 

Phone Call

Most serious eBay car sellers will have a telephone number listed on the page. This is a GOOD sign that this is a legitimate seller. You can also Google the telephone numbers to make sure it's associated with a business. From there you can check for the reviews that other customers have had. 

How to Buy a Car through eBay - phone call with seller

If there is no phone number listed, that is still ok. You can ask the seller in the private message if you can exchange numbers. Sellers and buyers that speak on the phone are typically a good sign that they are real, honest sellers. 

Sometimes it might be a private seller using ebay motors to sell their car.

When you do call them, please be professional and courteous. Have your questions prepared such as smoker's car, inspection and any other questions that come to mind. 

eBay Car Shipping

Shipping Costs

You will have to factor in shipping costs as well with your final price. Shipping costs range from $500-$2,500 to ship a car from state to state. We recommend uship.com as a source to get quotes from.

Uship was our auto transport company of choice when we were looking to ship. Be aware that there is open transport and close transport. 

How to Buy a Car through eBay - auto transport

The open transports are cheaper to ship since the car will be on an open bed. While this might sound like a bad idea, you can always get the car or vehicle detailed when you receive it from the car shipping company. 

There might be delivery delays but as long as you find a reputable auto transport company, you should be in good shape to ship the car. 

Travel Plans

The other option is to fly out to the location and drive your new car back. If you are ok with flying and have a little time on your hand, it might be a fun adventure. It's always good to travel with a partner but many have flown out alone to pick up their new car. Plus, it would offer an opportunity to test drive the car.

How to Buy a Car through eBay - driving home

Flights are a few hundred dollars and get you to your destination quickly. Remember, when you drive back to always be safe. If the drive back is more than 8 hours, I would consider making a pitstop and overnight for a good night's sleep. 

TIP: Ask the seller if they are able to provide temp plates for you to drive home with. Otherwise, you might have to choose a shipping company to transport your vehicle. 

How to Buy a Car on ebay without Getting Scammed

Vehicle History

The vehicle history report will help determine if the car was serviced on time and reveal any major accidents. It will not indicate if the car smells or was a smoker's car. I would specifically ask the seller about this and have the inspection company check for this as well. 

Again, you don't want to be burned with a car that smells like perfume initially but starts smelling like smoke in the hot summer sun.

If there was a lapse in services, that still might be ok. I am a weekend mechanic and the oil changes that I do don't show up on the Carfax but I am very diligent with the intervals. 

Check the history for any accidents and the ownership duration. Ownerships less than 1 year might indicate a potential problem but see if at least oil changes were done on time.

I also Google the shop name who had done the oil changes to see if they are knowledgeable about using the correct oils and filters.  I typically shy away from cars with Pepboys or Jiffy Lube history and look for shops with specialization.

However, the good news is that the oil was changed but bad news is how knowledgeable or correct was the oil change. 

Payment

Payment details are listed on the eBay post. Most listings require a deposit of $500 or more within 24 hours of the auction ending. You can coordinate the remaining payment with the seller. 

how to buy a car through ebay

TIP: I strongly suggest that you only send payment via the ebay system in order to have an electronic record of the payment. 

DO NOT SEND PAYMENT in the form of a gift card or made outside the ebay ecosystem using a cash app. If the seller requests you to buy ebay gift cards then that is a SCAM. The gift card payment offers NO PROTECTION from your purchase. Again, in order to have purchase protection, you will need to pay your deposit within ebay's platform.

In addition, there might be dealer and administration fees that will be included with your purchase. Be sure to review all the fine details and ask the seller about this before you place your bid or buy it now. 

If you are out of state, you will be responsible for any taxes to be paid to the DMV. I believe taxes will be paid at the time of registration.

Seller's Feedback

Seller feedback and the seller's store will help you determine if they are a reputable seller. I like to look at the age of the account. While older accounts do carry more trust, be aware of the Seller's store. 

Check out their feedback and their current listings. Does it look like they deal with larger ticket items? Have they sold vehicles in the past? I find seller profiles that focus on car sales and 100% feedback a good sign that you will also have a good experience. 

Again, check the feedback history and any other reviews online of the store. 

TIP: Be cautious with sellers with 100% or 99.99% feedback on items that are more than 12 months old. These MIGHT be hijacked or hacked accounts. You will want a seller that has updated feedback in the last 30 days to 60 days. 

Again, if the feedback is low but they have good feedback, then you can safely assume that ebay is one of many channels they use to market their cars. 

ebay car sales fees

eBay motors charges sellers a flat listing fee based on the type of listing. You won't have to worry about paying it since you are the buyer but it's good to know. 

Payment Options and Deposit

The most common options are a Paypal deposit ($500) and a cashier's check in person. You might be able to pay with cash, but it might be easier with a check.  Full payment is typically completed in 3 days but up to 7 days. 

If the car is being shipped, then I would recommend the Escrow.com option. Escrow is a safe third party. 

Is it Safe to Buy a Car through ebay

carfax-sample

Yes, but be aware of the KBB and Blue Book Value of the vehicle you are looking at.

Here are the key points to keep you safe:

Vehicle History - Check the records of the car. Was it well maintained? Does it have a lot of owners?

  • Inspection - Get the car inspected. If the seller refuses to allow you an inspection, then walk away from the deal. You don't want to buy a car sight unseen and without a test drive. Unless you can coordinate with a third part to handle that. 
  • Communication - Keep all of your communication in the eBay Messages section. If you do speak on the phone, send a recap email the points you discussed and request confirmation on any of the answers. If you don't record what was said, then it will be hard to trace back any issues for ebay's team to resolve. 
  • Feedback - Look at the seller's feedback history. Have they sold any cars in the past and how was the rating? Be sure to Google the name or number to see what business is associated with it.
  • Payments - Just like the communication section, be sure to keep payments and deposits on ebay's platform. Any payments made in gift cards should be avoided at all costs. Walk away from the deal. 

Remember since you are a potential buyer, you need to do your own homework to better understand the ebay car buying service on ebay motors. 

Today's car buying experience has changed and you are able to confidently purchase sight unseen and buy a car online as long as you take the proper steps in protecting yourself and your money. 

Unlike in the past, now have access to online reviews and ratings on sellers, businesses and cars before they even get behind the wheel. eBay ratings are great resources when you are trying to decide if the listing is legit.

A lot of people think it is safe to buy a car without seeing it first because they have seen other friends buy cars online without any problems, but this isn't always true and there are lots of things that could go wrong with your purchase if you don't take precautions against them. Follow the tips listed here and you should be ok. 

Good luck and feel free to comment below with your questions.

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Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

About the author

I am a passionate car enthusiast who likes to help people save money and avoid headaches when it comes to cars. I believe that everyone can find the right car at the right price. I share my tips and experience so you can learn quickly and maximize your next SUV, truck or car purchase.

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