I’m afraid if i did this i would end up with a piece of junk that i couldn’t get a refund on. However the deals are amazing. a 2000 corolla (which is what i want) goes for around $6k on ebay.
We bought a '91 Volvo 740 wagon off eBay this summer for $3000. We wanted a second car for very light duty that had enough cargo space to accomodate our dogs. We’ve been very happy with it so far, it’s in nice condition.
My husband bought a van on ebay a month ago for $275. He didn’t think he would win. Yes, it’s ugly as sin (think Caterpillar yellow) and I didn’t talk to him for several days, it has 200K+ miles… did I mention it’s ugly? It runs, he’s happy and I’m ignoring it. We already had two perfectly good vehicles. Oh well. It wasn’t a bad deal, just one that wasn’t necessary.
I bought a 94’ Caprice (Yes, LT1 ) for $4000 and after a year and a half, am still loving it, with no problems.
Look for one close in your area, this way you can email the seller to come and see it before you bid on it. This worked for me. I didn’t like the idea of having a car shipped to me, or bidding on it and picking it up 1000 miles away.
(All of the following assumes you’re buying a car too far away to see before buying.)
The real question is, why do you want to buy this car, as opposed to a similar model near you? If it’s a relatively rare car that isn’t likely to be available near you in the near future, then getting it via eBay may not be a bad idea. But if it’s a common car, you’re probably better off buying a local one.
Your protection against buying a POS is escrow. You give the escrow provider the money and the seller ships the car. The escrow agreement allows you to check the car out for a fixed period, at the end of which you can accept it or reject it for any reason or no reason. If you accept, the seller gets the money; if not, you get the money back and the car is returned. You should make it a condition of the sale that if you don’t accept the car, the seller will have to pay the return shipping. This gives him a certain incentive not to misrepresent the car.
I bought a Porsche 944 Turbo through eBay. The seller was pretty upfront about some of its minor problems (which inclined me to believe he was being honest), and my mechanic gave it a clean bill of health within the escrow period, so I completed the sale. Over the next 14 months I spent over $5,000 as one thing after another broke. (It was a 17-year-old car.) I sold it for half what I paid for it. (I didn’t do enough research, and probably paid more than I should have. I’ll also admit to getting a little caught up in the auction excitement.) Did the seller know that it was about to fall apart? I like to think he wasn’t a scumbag ripping me off, but I’ll never know.
One downside of long distance buying is paying for transporting the car. This will cost several hundred dollars at least, thus potentially wiping out savings that would have made it a great buy.
There’s also the pain of dealing with car transporters. You don’t deal directly with the carrier, but with a middleman who books for the carriers. You will be given an approximate pick up and delivery date, but there are no guarantees. While waiting for my car to show up (it took a week longer than they said it would) I kept worrying about what would happen if it was damaged en route. Between the seller, the middleman, and the carrier, there would have been plenty of opportunities to pass the buck and deny responsibility. (Fortunately, that didn’t happen.)
You can, of course, travel to the seller and drive the car home, but that would probably eliminate your option of having the car checked out, pre-sale, by a mechanic you trust.
Would I do it again? Probably not. There’s something about dealing with your seller face-to-face that gives you a better idea of who you’re dealing with, and how likely he/she is to be lying about the car.
But if it is a real one-of-a-kind, a car you have to have, if you ask lots of questions and can convince yourself it really is in the condition claimed, if you’ve done your research and can get it at a good price (including shipping), then go for it. Don’t forget to check the seller’s feedback.
I bought a fully restored 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350 off ebay in July. A very pretty penny I must say - especially seeing as how I was sending money via international transfer from down here in Australia - where we currently have a much weaker dollar at the moment.
But that being said, it went off no problems. I was buying from a very reputable dealer in Miami, Florida. The feedback was good, and my communications with the dealership was very trust-inspiring.
It has to be said, however, I was consciously buying a collector’s item kinda car. It’s the sort of car you’re not going to lose money on, if you know what I mean. In that context, ebay works well - but for more general, modern cars? I’d trust the local classifieds in my newspaper as much as nything else.
I bought my current car, a '93 Jeep Cherokee, because of an eBay auction. It was an hour away across the river from my house. We emailed the seller to see if we could take a look, drove over, liked it, and asked what he would take to end the auction now and let me drive it home. I wouldn’t have bought it without looking at it, though.
On the other hand, once I’m in the money, I’m going to buy a '52 Hudson Hornet and I’m 90% sure it’s going to be through eBay - they’re too hard to find through other avenues.
I sell antiques and collectibles on Ebay and in live markets around me. Over the past couple years I’ve burned through three vans - admittedly they were beaters, but still…
So I made up my mind to buy a heavier-duty vehicle, and started searching eBay motors for a good deal.
I eventually bought a 1988 Thomas Type A Minotour school bus (the kind built on an E350 van chassis.) The seats had been stripped out of it because the owner was already using it to haul motorcycles, and it had been recently painted and very well maintained.
It was a great deal, a great vehicle, and I’d buy another car online in a heartbeat.
Just remember, ask lots of questions via email, check the seller’s feedback CAREFULLY (and read between the lines!) and try to get a look at the car first if possible.
ebay cars can be had for a lower price. Im looking at corollas but when i browse camry’s they go for abou 3k less than all the camrys within 200 miles of my zip on autotrader do.
“a 2000 corolla (which is what i want) goes for around $6k on ebay.”
Did you look at completed auctions?, that one seemed to be an active auction, here are completed auctions:
Toyota : Corolla VE 2000 TOYOTA COROLLA VE L@@K 27 PICTURES
Toyota : Corolla Toyota Corolla 2000 WARRANTY CRUISE!!!
yeah i checked the completed auctions. a camry goes for $9k a corolla goes for 6-7 usually. With autotrader a camry goes for $11k and a corolla is 8-9k.
My cow-orker bought a beamer, shipped from florida to minnesota, and she is happy as can be.
For fun I often scan the Collector Car auctions on ebay. I have three saved searches. One for the 65 - 69 Corvairs, 61 - 67 Ford Econoline pickup, and 64 - 71 Dodge A100 pickup (I love the idea of owning a “forward control” truck!). I don’t think I would ever buy one though, unless I have lots of money and time to spend makeing sure it’s a good buy. but it is fun to look and dream, you know?
ah yes. I look at the 1999-2000 mercedes benz c230s for the same reason. i’ve seen them go for $11k before.
One point about comparing eBay and Autotrader: aren’t the Autotrader prices asking prices, which might end up higher than the price actually paid? So maybe not such a big difference as it might seem.
good point. i found my current vehicle for $7k on autotrader but talked the guy down to $6k.
I thought the standard advice for buying used cars is to get it inspected by a mechanic first. Is that something everyone recommends but few people end up actually doing? And do you typically do that with an eBay purchase?
I think ebay cars come with a guarantee.:
My 70 year old mother bought her '03 Dodge Intrepid on e-bay. She lives here in Tennessee, the car was in Texas. her husband flew down and picked it up. Looked it over - no problems - and drove it back. She’s loved it.
My husband bought a car of ebay. We drove it home from Utah. I didn’t even know we bought it until it was almost time to go pick it up. The seller was very honest with us. We knew what we were getting when we got there.
I think for the most part people who are selling big expensive items are honest about what they are selling.
FTR, it was a collector-type car that I have only driven once on our way back from Utah. I think hubby has only driven it three times.