Everything you need to know about buying a car on eBay

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  • Buying a car is something most people prefer to do in person, but shopping online does have many benefits - and eBay Motors is a good place to start looking.
  • With over 5 million cars sold on the platform to date, eBay Motors is great for finding specific vehicles, whether regular commuter cars or exotic supercars, and safely purchasing them.
  • The site offers user feedback for accountability, secure payment methods, free vehicle history reports, and up to $100,000 in Vehicle Purchase Protection.
  • Read on to learn about the benefits of shopping on eBay Motors and how to safely navigate the market.

In just a few clicks, you can buy clothes, shoes, mattresses, groceries and pretty much anything else you can think of from the comfort of your home.

But cars are still one of the few things that most people prefer to buy in person. The idea of buying something as substantial (in size and price) as a vehicle online probably gives most people anxiety, but the reality is that the car-buying process has come a long way. Either stumbling upon a nice used car with a for sale sign on it or shopping at used car lots with overzealous salesmen were once the only options, but the internet has opened up more avenues.

By purchasing a car online, you can cast your net far and wide to ensure that you end up in driver's seat of the ride you really want, not just what's available locally. As with any industry, the online car market does have some questionable products and shady sellers, but with the right know-how, you can avoid almost all the risks - and eBay is one the most useful and trusted sites for doing so.

If you're not an avid eBay user, you've probably thought of the site only as a marketplace to buy and sell collectible baseball cards, vintage clothes, and other random knickknacks, but its automotive section, eBay Motors, is a major destination for buying cars with more than five million vehicles sold to date.

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Why eBay Motors is a safe destination for buying a vehicle:

Buying a car of any kind, regardless of where it's listed, comes with some level of risk. Even if a car is accurately advertised, it could very well break shortly after you purchase it. After all, it is a machine and there are plenty of variables that neither you nor the seller have complete control over. With that said, you'll want to eliminate all the other risks associated with buying a car that you do have control over.

Alternatives like Craigslist and Facebook buying and selling groups can be convenient to use as they require less work to make a sale or purchase on, but with no real regulations on business practices, they're essentially free-for-alls between buyers and sellers. I've done my fair share of car and auto parts shopping on platforms like these, and from firsthand experience, you will undoubtedly come across scammers, time-wasters, falsely advertised cars in regards to condition and vehicle history, and generally crappy items merely listed for those naïve enough to bite. And since most sellers on those platforms require will require you to pay in cash - some might even try to convince you into shady payment methods or reloadable debit cards - your hard-earned money could be put in jeopardy.

On the other hand, eBay Motors has plenty of attributes that make it safer, with user feedback, secure payment methods, and Vehicle Purchase Protection being some of the most important.

In 2018, the 10 most expensive cars sold on eBay Motors alone amounted to nearly $4.1 million with the single most expensive being a 2017 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce for $499,900. If sales that big can be handled through eBay Motors, you can rest assured that your purchase (more than likely for a much lesser amount) will go smoothly, too.

How to find the perfect car on eBay:

With more than 118,000 active listings right now, there's a lot to choose from on eBay Motors. And with its huge inventory comes a fine-tuned search engine. You can search by make, model, year, color, transmission type, distance from you, price range, and more. Even if you're not sure what you're looking for specifically, eBay Motors has categories like Classics, Exotics, SUVs, Electrics and Hybrids, Minivans, and Sedans to help you make a decision. It's set up so that you can either find the right car or let the right car find you.

2017 Lamborghini Aventador LP750 4 SuperveloceeBayFollowing an auction for lunch with Warren Buffet and a super-rare Patek Phillip watch, this Lamborghini was the third most expensive item sold on eBay in 2018.

How to use feedback to gauge a seller's legitimacy:

So, you've found your dream car on eBay, but before you hit that "Buy it now" button, you want to make sure that the seller is trustworthy - and their feedback is the best indication of that. Every user on eBay has an overall feedback percentage that's calculated from positive, neutral, and negative feedback as a seller and as a buyer. When carefully analyzed, this is one way you can make a better decision about going forward with a transaction. Obviously, a 100% feedback rating (or a number very close to it) should be the first thing you should look for, but there are many other factors.

Most importantly, you'll want to look at the user's feedback as a seller. Since most eBay breaks feedback down into "as a seller" and "as a buyer" categories, you want to make sure that they've done transactions as a seller. It's a lot easier to accumulate feedback as a buyer (all you have to do is pay for the items you buy), so feedback as a seller definitely holds more weight in regards to trustworthiness.

You'll also want to look at what the user has sold in the past. For each instance of feedback they've received, it'll show what the transaction was for and in some cases, the listing can still be viewed. This is the best way to see that other people who've bought the same or similar products had a positive buying experience. For example, you might find a seller with 250 feedback ratings all from selling cars to be more reliable than a seller who accumulated thousands of feedback ratings from selling $2 fidget spinners before recently moving on to cars. That's not to say one is more trustworthy than the other, but it helps to take their score with a grain of salt.

The site also breaks down feedback received within the last month, six months, and 12 months, so if a seller had one bad transaction months ago, but has since received many positive feedback ratings, you can better assume that your transaction will be smooth as well.

Regardless of what I'm buying on eBay, I always look at a seller's feedback and take these things into consideration. As for sellers without any feedback, my general rule of thumb is to avoid them. I understand that everyone has to start somewhere as a seller, but to stay on the safe side, I won't let them start with me as their first customer.

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Secure payment methods and eBay Motors' Vehicle Purchase Protection:

Every car purchase on eBay Motors comes with Vehicle Purchase Protection, which covers certain losses associated with fraud. Buyers can receive up to $100,000 or the value of the car (whichever is lower) if deemed a victim of fraud. The only way to ensure that you're protected as a buyer is to make the purchase through eBay. Even if you're in close proximity to the vehicle or you're willing to travel to it, the transaction must ultimately go through the site if you want the assurance and protection of eBay's plan. Some fraudulent sellers from other sites claim eBay protection on their vehicles as part of their scam.

The protection plan covers instances like never receiving the vehicle after purchase, purchasing a stolen vehicle, or purchasing a vehicle with undisclosed issues with the motor or transmission. General maintenance issues like belts, hoses, and lightbulbs are not backed. You can read more about Vehicle Purchase Protection here.

To successfully pay for your vehicle on eBay Motors, you'll have to use PayPal and eBay's financing center. Most sellers require a deposit upon winning an auction and the remaining balance to be paid within a set amount of time. This gives you time as the buyer to see the car in person (if you're not arranging for it to be shipped) before finalizing the purchase. If a seller accepts financing, eBay can help you get a loan and will manage your car payments thereafter.

The bottom line

If you're buying a car with your tax refund or yearly bonus, you want to make sure you're getting the most in terms of value and buyer protection for your money. Whether you're looking for a basic car for commuting, a classic car to tinker with in your garage, or a big-ticket exotic supercar, eBay Motors is a dependable place to find it.

Start shopping for your new ride on eBay Motors now.

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