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Buying a Vehicle on eBay Motors

Published Sep 17th 2007, 6:59am by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Ebay_motors eBay Motors is the largest online automotive marketplace, making it a great place to buy your next vehicle.  This article will help you navigate the eBay Motor’s roadway to purchasing a vehicle.

Step One:  Register an eBay Buyer’s Account

The first step to buying a vehicle on eBay Motors is to become a registered user.  Visit and click “Register” at the top of the page.  Fill out the form with accurate personal information.  You must be at least 18 years of age and have a secure email address  to become an eBay member.  If you do not have a secure email address, you may be asked to place a credit card on file which is strictly used to verify your identity.  A basic buyer’s registration, with the exception of becoming ID verified , allows you to place bids up to $15,000.  After you have received more than 10 positive feedback , this restriction is lifted.

Buy_ebay_motors Step Two:  Find Your Vehicle

Once you have become a registered eBay user, you’re ready to find your vehicle!  Searching for the right car on eBay is easy, as long as you know what to look for.  Here are some easy steps to finding a car:

•    Go to
•    Click on “advanced search” in the upper right corner
•    Select your desired Make and Model from the drop down boxes
•    To narrow your search, select additional criteria
•    Click SEARCH!

Your search may result in a lot of vehicles or none.  If too many results appear, type in additional features, like “leather” or “all wheel drive,” in the long white search box at the top of the list. Click the box labeled “Search in Title and Description.”  If too few vehicles result from your search, isolate your needs and broaden your search.

To find local vehicles, narrow your search radius to 100 miles of your zip code.  Surprisingly, this may provide you with a much larger selection.

Step Three:  Select Your Vehicle

Now that you’ve narrowed your search, start comparing vehicles.  Ask yourself these questions:

•    How many miles does the vehicle have? 
•    Is the title clean, salvage or rebuilt? 
•    Does the listing include a third party vehicle history report?
•    How much information does the seller disclose? 
•    How many photos are there? 
•    What is the seller’s feedback? 
•    Is there an unbiased condition report or does it sound “too good to be true”?
•    Is the vehicle for sale by owner or a dealership?
•    How does the price compare to those suggested by Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, Black Book Online, and NADA?

Answering these questions will build confidence in your decision.

Step Four:  Negotiate the Price

So, now you’ve found your vehicle!  You’ve communicated with the seller and feel comfortable moving forward with negotiating the price.  There are two types of listings on eBay, fixed price  and auction style. 

Making an Offer on a Fixed Price Listing

If the vehicle is fixed price with only a “Buy It Now” button, you may need to negotiate the price via email or over the phone.  If the listing is fixed price in “Best Offer” format, you can make an offer on the vehicle by clicking the “Make an Offer” button.  Your offer will be accepted, rejected or countered by the seller.  Remember to be reasonable when making an offer, basing your price on online guides, like Kelley Blue Book or Black Book Online. 

Bid_ebay_motors Bidding on an Auction Style Listing

For auction style listings, you are bidding against other people, so be sure to watch the item until the final seconds of the auction.  To place a bid, click the “Bid on this Item” button.  eBay will proxy bid on your behalf up to your pre-determined price. 

Some seller’s auction their items with a “Reserve”  price.  In this case, the vehicle isn’t sold until the reserve is met.  You can see whether a listing has met reserve by looking below the “Current Bid” price, where it will say either “Reserve Not Met” or “Reserve Met.” For a “no reserve” auction, the listing is considered sold to the highest bidder.

Step Five:  Complete the Sale

Make every effort to keep the sale “online.”  Keeping the sale online is very beneficial to the buyer.  An online sale is one that kept all negotiations and communications with the seller through eBay’s communication channels. 

Whether you’ve met reserve, clicked the “Buy It Now” button, accepted a counter offer or had your offer accepted, an online transaction brings you the following benefits, increasing your peace of mind:

•    eBay’s Purchase Protection program provides you with $20,000 coverage against fraud or serious misrepresentation. 
•    Feedback is exchanged, building trust within the eBay community
•    Use of eBay’s lending company with desirable rates and special incentives for qualified buyers. 
•    An online transaction requires that the seller be held to the terms and conditions of the listing.

Since the buyer is usually responsible for vehicle delivery, be sure to compare the cost to pickup or ship the vehicle.  Read all paperwork thoroughly before signing and making your final payment.  Make sure the terms of the sale match the terms on the listing.

Helpful Hints

If you are bidding on an auction style listing, be sure to keep a close eye on the listing to keep your place as high bidder.  Often, the majority of bids are placed in the final minutes and seconds of the auction.  Since eBay will proxy bid on your behalf, you can feel safe placing a bid at your top dollar. 

Stay away from sellers that don’t respond to emails or are difficult to get a hold of via phone.  Their behavior during an auction will dictate their behavior after the auction has ended.

Remember the benefits of buying from a dealer.  Most dealerships list a vehicle on eBay after it has gone through inspection and been thoroughly detailed.  Also, their eBay price is often their best sale price, since eBay is viewed as a last resort before sending a vehicle to the dealer auction.  A dealership can give you attractive financing and take your vehicle in on trade. 

Become a master of the eBay marketplace by purchasing less expensive items first.  This will help you understand the buying process and prepare you for purchasing a high ticket item, like a vehicle.

Exercise caution when responding to an email promising a “Second Chance Offer.”  Often this is a scam put out by non-eBay members posing as the seller.  Also, beware of listings that have exorbitant fees that are applied to the purchase price or require a high deposit.  Most dealerships will accept a few hundred dollars as a deposit.  If in doubt, pick up the phone and call the seller.  This is often the best way to improve your comfort level.

Above all, have fun!  Buying on eBay is exciting and can save you hundreds, if not thousands, on your next vehicle purchase.  Become an educated consumer so you can approach eBay Motors with confidence and enthusiasm!

SdMs. Draley has earned the reputation as an expert on how to buy and sell on eBay Motors. She provides extensive training to dealerships and private parties on how to approach the “world’s largest online marketplace” with confidence and success.

Sarah Draley
Vice President Marketing and Acquisitions
Rocket City Automotive Group, Inc.


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