How to Buy a Car on eBay

Buying a car on eBay is a lot like buying a car on just about any other website, but brushing up on how best to do even that is always a smart thing to do. Buying a car is a big investment at all. You’re putting a lot of time and money into something that you’ll likely use every day. On top of that, you’re putting your safety and reliability in its hands. No pressure.

Buying a car on eBay, with this in mind, can seem a bit daunting. After all, it is an online marketplace. Buying a car on eBay has disaster waiting to happen all over it in the minds of some people, but with the right legwork and a little bit of research, you’re just as safe as you are anywhere else. Just make sure you’re taking all the steps that you can to protect yourself as always.

The process that we would always recommend is pre purchase car inspectors is this:

Step 1 – Find a Car

Step number one is of course to find the car. There is no point in worrying about anything until you have seen something that fits the bill. You need to find a vehicle that is right for you and for what you need it to do. Whether you’re looking for something sporty to have fun in, a car to drive to work, or something to take the kids everywhere they need to go on the weekend, there are all kinds of different makes, models and sizes of cars on the roads. (That goes for different fuel types too).

Once you have one, or even a few, that you like the look of, you can then get to work on moving forward with the buying process.

Step 2 – Check out the Seller

As well as liking the look of the car, when you’re learning how to buy a car on eBay, you should get very used to looking at the seller too. They may be a private seller or a dealer, but either way, you need to know what’s what. Take a look at everything you can about them before you decide to do anything else. You could really dodge a bullet.

The main things to check are their feedback and their reputation. Check what people have to say about them on eBay if you can. On top of that, go elsewhere online too. Google the name or business of the seller and see what they do, if anything. Remember though, private sellers may not have all that much to them, and it could be the case with your car. It’s a gamble.

Step 3 – Research the Car

Step three is where things start to get even more granular still. Once you know what you need to know about the seller of the vehicle to avoid scams in this way, also make sure to research the car itself as well. Check for things like the MOT history and if it is taxed. This gives the briefest possible insight but tells you at least that it is legal to be on the road.

If you want to invest even just a small amount of money, you can get a financial check as well. HPI checks are one example, but any will help you find out if there is something negative to find about that could come back to haunt you later on.

Step 4 – Inspect the Car

If you made it this far, you could well be onto a winner, but the battle is far from over. Once you are in a position to find out more information about the vehicle and get ready to make the purchase, a good option is to inspect the car. Thoroughly too. Inspecting a car sounds a lot more daunting than it really is. In reality, you really have two choices. 

One is that you can get a pre-purchase vehicle inspection service like CarExamer to go and check out the car for you. We’ll test drive it and give it a full inspection off the road, checking everything you need to know before you buy it for as little as £100.

The other is that you can go by yourself, or with a family member or friend. You can go and check out the car, and look for some of the most common problem areas. Make a checklist and just check everything you possibly can to avoid nasty surprises. It could save you a fortune in the long run. This largely depends on the location of the car you’re looking at, however, unless you have the resources to travel.

Step 5 – Drive the Car

As well as going to see the car and take a look for any issues it might have, it’s also worth taking the car for a test drive. You should really message the seller when you’re buying a car on eBay to make sure that this is an option, because of it isn’t there could be some foul play afoot, and that’s never a good sign.

If they do agree to it, however, then test driving is always smart. It helps you to get a feel for the vehicle and see if it is something you can see yourself driving. It also helps to highlight any issues that are only known about when driving, like odd feelings or sounds.

Step 6 – Weigh up your options

Next up, it’s decision time. After you have given the car all of the attention you feel it is worth, then it’s really time to make up your mind. It’s usually an auction with eBay after all, and other people may also be looking at the car you want to buy. You do however still have options open to you.

It’s a great time to think about things like what to do with your current car if you have one. Dealers may even let you part exchange. You could also try to negotiate with the dealer or seller to see if you can get a better price, although this is much easier when you have an inspection report telling you why it is worth less than it’s selling for.

Step 7 – Buy the Car

Finally, all that is left is for you to buy the car from the eBay seller and take it home if you decide that’s the best thing to do. Complete the sale on eBay however the car is selling. You may be in an auction or have a buy it now price as many eBay listings do (or there is often the best offer system on eBay motors too).

Paying for the vehicle, however, is one final thing that is also something to note. Many sellers will try to engage customers somehow to try and get buyers to send a message, They will then try to take the sale off the eBay platform, or to arrange payment a different way. This is almost always a bad sign. These sellers can then take advantage of you, engaging in practices not adopted by eBay and opening you up to all kinds of issues. The seller will often be flagged and shut down by eBay too, which can cause you problems.

If you chose to buy a car on eBay, following their guidance is the best thing to do. Be careful, look out for scammers, check the car before you lay out any money, and pay through eBay and services like PayPal. This is the only way to protect yourself.