Has anyone bought a car on Ebay?

freedeeJanuary 31, 2008

I saw some used cars on Ebay that seem almost too good to be true. On one of them, the seller said she was going to do it through the Ebay protection program. It sounded perfect. The seller pays Ebay. The buyer gets the car and has 10 days to check it out, take it to a mechanic, etc. Then, the money is released to the seller. What could go wrong?

I read the fine print of the protection. They had some exclusions that were understandable. This is the only part that I see that could problem: They say that they only gaurentee the claims made through their corresponse system. This buyer emailed me the details of the car through her regular email address. I asked her to send me the same info through Ebay. I guess I won't hear from her, or maybe, I will, and I get a great deal on a car.

Is there anything else I should watch out for?

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ky114

Yes. While I have not bought a car through eBay myself, I know several people who have. I'll make a few generalizations based on what I have seen:

1. For classic/unusual cars, eBay can be a great source. You probably won't be able to find just the year and model you want locally, so buying on eBay is one way to find what you want.
2. For "daily driver" types of regular used cars like the one you want to find for your brother, I would be careful. Just from what I have seen, and realizing that this is only one person's view, people seem to put cars on eBay because they think they can get more money if people do not see it in person.
3. So, I would have no problem buying a car on eBay as long as it's close enough to you that you can go see it in person and verify that the seller holds the title and that it matches up with the vehicle. I would not make any exceptions on this. Insist on the seller letting you have it inspected by an independent mechanic of your choosing, and then bid accordingly, based on the condition of the car.
4. For a $4,000 car, I really think the best source is someone you know. Ask around at work, among neighbors, friends, etc. Also, check around at new car dealers. Frequently they send vehicles in this price range to the auction, but if you make friends with a few salespeople, they can keep an eye out for someone that trades in a nice older car that they wouldn't normally sell on their lot, but which may be just what you want.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 6:25PM
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freedee

Thanks for responding. The car I was interested in was in the Miami area, (where my brother lives), but the seller was talking about getting a shipper to ship it directly to his location. Seems she doesn't want to interact with people, I can understand that. I think that might have been a stock answer, no matter where the buyer is. Maybe this is a big scam.

If I get that protection program, how can I be ripped off?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 8:00PM
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ky114

If she does not want to interact with people, you have to assume there's a reason for that, and it may be because what she's selling is being misrepresented. I'm not trying to be a cynic or assume the worst of people, but eBay vehicle transactions do seem to generate a lot of problems for people.

I think the protection guards you against total ripoffs, such as taking your money and not delivering the vehicle at all, but does it protect you against the vehicle just not being any good?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 8:58PM
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ky114

I am not aware of an eBay vehicle purchase protection program that provides the assurance you described in your first post. From what I can find on the eBay site, their Vehicle Purchase Protection protects you against out and out fraud, but if you read the list of things it doesn't cover, there are pretty big holes in it. Exception #18 (of 22) says the plan does not cover, "Any damage that could have been discovered upon a reasonable inspection." That gives them enough room to exclude practically anything.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 9:08PM
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freedee

I was assuming that meant after the ten day period, you couldn't sue them for something that your inspection should have found. I think I'll read it again to try see what they mean.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 6:38PM
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ky114

To make sure we are talking about the same thing, here is the link to the terms of the Vehicle Purchase Protection through eBay. This is where I am getting my info. Maybe we are talking about two different things. I have never heard of any plan on eBay where you bid on something and then get 10 days to decide if you want it. To me, that would not really be an auction sale.

Here is a link that might be useful: eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 11:22PM
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freedee

No, I don't think that you have 10 day to decide if you want it. They are very clear about that, they say "buyer's remourse" is not covered. I thought that the car had to match up with what the seller says about the car, in ebay communications. For example, if the seller doesn't say anything about the title being clear, and you don't ask, you are stuck. I'm not sure if that's true, but it seams like it from what they say. Who knows how many other loop hole there might be, if you don't know to ask.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 6:10PM
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ky114

Exactly. It seems to me the eBay protection might keep you from falling prey to the most blatant fraud, such as the vehicle not being owned by the one pretending to be in a position to sell it, or a lien on the title that prevents you from taking ownership of it, but it does little to keep you from buying a pile of junk. That's why I would suggest buying locally, maybe from someone you know, or possibly from a new car dealer that gets a good vehicle as a trade-in. Also, you will have an easier time buying a good car if you are not overly restricted in the makes and models you are considering. On a $4,000 car, the traits of a specific car (how well it's been cared for, price and value for money) are more important than whether it's a Ford, Chevy or Honda.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 7:13PM
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freedee

I'm not sure if you would be protected from title problems if the seller didn't say that there were no problems with the title.

He doesn't care exactly what make it is. He just cares about gas milage, and low cost of ownership. He actually prefers standard transmision, dealers find them hard to sell. That should make it easier to get a deal. Does any one know of a car that he would like in Miami?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 8:58PM
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johndeere

Be careful any time you buy a used car.Never buy a car you can not drive.Get a Car fax report and Ebay would be a good place to get rid of a flood damaged car that would be a major concern with all the crazy weather we have had the last few years.Remember there are Crooks on Ebay.Why would anyone be willing to try to sell a nice used vehical on Ebay cheap when they could take a picture and write down price wanted and ph number and hang it in local area stores like Walmart for free and not have to pay Ebay to sell it?If there selling it for a reasonable price it will sell locally nation wide.Believe me I do it often and have never seen a reason to sell a car on Ebay.

As for extended protection plans or Extended warranties or what ever.If its not offered by the manufacture be careful.Ebay would have so much red tape that it would be a nightmare getting help from them.

Have you considered Auto trader dont let the prices scare you.They have the prices high just incase your not a negotiater.Thats just a starting point same thing at used car dealers and new car dealers that sell used cars.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 10:17PM
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freedee

Ebay has no extended warranties, Their program let's you have 10 days to confirm that the car is as it is stated, before they release the money to the seller. The thing that is confusing about #18 "Any damage that could have been discovered upon a reasonable inspection." is weather that inspection is expected to be done before the transaction starts or after the buyer gets the car for the 10 day inspection period.

The biggest problem is that there is no one to talk to at ebay. I picture the whole company being a huge building filled with just machines. The only humans involved, are the ones fixing the machines.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 8:12AM
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freedee

look at this:
http://www.carchex.com/inspect/order/index.asp

Has anyone used this inspection service from Carfax? Do you think I could trust them?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 3:11PM
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ky114

Yes, Carfax is accurate and reputable as a source of information that could appear on records associated with a car's title and registration history. A clean Carfax report does not in itself indicate a good car, of course, but it gives you information that's valuable, such as how many owners the car has had, whether it's been in serious accidents, where it's been, etc. It can also help you verify the accuracy of the mileage. Carfax would not usually indicate mechanical problems, of course.

Carchex, which is the site you referenced, is a chain that provides 155-point vehicle inspections. You can get a Carfax report through them. I do not have any experience with them, but have no reason to believe they would not do a good job. Other reputable local mechanics would probably also be fine as a way to have a car inspected.

Two suggestions for decent low-cost cars that are available with manual transmissions are a Hyundai Accent or a Chevy Cavalier. The Accent is said by Edmunds to have a current retail value of about $3,900 for a 2003, which is pretty reasonable for a car that's only five years old. To get a Cavalier for $4,000 you'd probably have to get a 2002, but that's still not too bad. They're both very serviceable little cars. Cavaliers are probably more common in most areas, so parts may be cheaper and more widely available. Values should be dropping, too, because Chevy replaced it with the Cobalt a few years back. (There are millions out there, so getting parts will never be a problem for as long as you care to keep one.) The Accent might be easier to find with a manual transmission; most Cavaliers seem to have 4-speed automatics.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 5:29PM
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paparoseman

You can do a search on Ebay for cars within a set distance of where you live. That way you can find cars that are not available to you because they could be posted in a newspaper out of town. Then you can go see the car in person and know the car is in the condition it is claimed to be. Sometimes a dealer will post a car on Ebay for extra exposure and then you can find out about a car that is not far away but too far to just go driving to see if they do.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 8:05PM
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ky114

I agree. As long as you go look at the car in person and regard it with the same caution as any other used car, eBay is fine. Buying a car far away sight unseen is where you can have problems.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 8:26AM
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johnoh

I have bought two, both local, both private sellers (not dealers), both worked out great.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 1:36PM
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freedee

OMG!!!

I have discovered some scams out there that look very good. I could easily see how someone could be lured into them. It makes me so mad. Here's what I discovered:

All of them start with a plausable explaination for why they are selling the car so cheap. None of them are giving the car away, it's just the best you could do for your money.

They say that they want to do it through ebay so that you are both protected. They start the ebay process. Then they ask you to wire money by western union. Ebay doesn't use western union, only pay pal.

The best one was a little different. They are overseas. They ask to do it through a company that handles overseas transfered employees. They refer you to the website of that company. That company IS ligit. Then someone contacts you with directions on where to wire the money. But that person is not from that company. I want to tell everbody about these thieves!!! (What I really want to do is scratch their eyes out!)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 11:27AM
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johndeere

Have you taken a look around on Autotrader?I would be afraid on any thing over a few hundred dollars on ebay.Its your modern day pawn shop.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2008 at 6:55PM
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freedee

Thanks to those who helped me with information. The good news is that my brother found a car for under 2,000. and he's happy. It's a standard transmition, 97 saturn. The news gets even better. He was able to go to a job interview that was an hour and a half away, and he got a job offer in his field. The job location will only be 40mins away, but if he didn't have this car, he wouldn't be able to get to the interview, without a whole lot of praying. It looks like his luck is about to change.

Thanks again to those who help us find the information that made this possible.

I will be posting a seperate thread about the thieves who almost had us. There is a special place down below for those who try to take advantage of those who have so little. We have to let people know.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 6:12PM
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