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How to Safely Purchase a Car on eBay Motors

magnifying glass on on ebay logo

eBay Motors has become a go-to car buying and selling venue for consumers due to its ease of use. There are two main ways you can purchase vehicles on eBay Motors, including auction-style formats and Buy It Now offerings. Auction-style formats require you to place bids on the car you have an interest in, while Buy It Now allows you to automatically purchase a vehicle at the set seller's price without having to go through the bidding process.

Method 1 of 2: Auction-style format on eBay Motors

Materials Needed

  • Computer or laptop
  • Paper and pencil

The auction-style format allows you to participate in bidding on a vehicle you are interested in. Before placing your bid, though, you should thoroughly research the vehicle listings you are interested in, as well as take a look at the sellers' performance histories to make sure they have no negative feedback from previous buyers.

Step 1: Determine your budget. First, decide what kind of vehicle you want and how much you want to spend on it. When determining your budget, think about how much you want to spend as your maximum bid amount and don't bid above that amount. This helps keep you from getting caught up in what some call "bidding fever" at the last minute of an auction.

Step 2: Review seller feedback. Review the feedback for the seller of each vehicle you are interested in bidding on. You can check their seller feedback profile on eBay to see what feedback they have received and comments from buyers about their experience with the seller. When reviewing seller feedback, look for sellers who have a high feedback score and percentage.

buy a car on ebay motors

Step 3: Research your listings. Next, research the vehicles within the listings on eBay Motors that you are interested in. Luckily, sellers list the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) within the vehicle description for their listings. This allows you to perform a vehicle history report, though many of the vehicles listed come with a free report or at least the option to buy the report directly from the eBay Motors site.

When researching vehicles on eBay Motors keep the following in mind:

  • Vehicle history report: You also have the option of paying for an independent vehicle history report outside of eBay Motors. You can visit such sites as Carfax,, and to get a full vehicle history report for the vehicles you are interested in.

  • Vehicle description: Read the vehicle description carefully for each vehicle you think you might bid on. Email the seller if you have any questions about the vehicle and its condition before bidding. Make sure you understand the seller's payment terms within the vehicle description so that there is no confusion. Also, make sure you agree with the payment terms, such as the method of payment, before you consider bidding. You can also contact the seller if you have any questions about the payment terms.

  • Tip: Before bidding, you should also consider your shipping options if you win a bid on a vehicle located outside of your area. This adds to the overall cost of the vehicle and can get expensive. Some sellers also offer shipping options, so look for those within the vehicle's description as well.

submit a bid button

Step 4: Submit a bid. When placing a bid, input the maximum amount you want to pay. The eBay system then bids in pre-determined increments until your maximum bid is reached. If you win the bidding at an amount lower than your maximum bid, then that is the amount you pay. Otherwise, the item goes to another bidder if they bid higher. If someone else goes above your maximum bid, you can bid another maximum amount above that if you want to. Remember not to get caught up in a bidding war or you may end up spending too much for the vehicle.

Step 5: Buy the car. Once you have successfully won an auction, it is time to complete the buying process. This process is as follows:

  • Pay the seller. You do this by following whatever the seller's instruction in regards to the accepted payment methods.

  • Arrange for pickup or delivery. This usually is the buyer's responsibility. Sometimes, though, the seller might offer some sort of shipping option or at least a cost estimate to ship to the buyer. If this is the case, it will be mentioned in the vehicle description.

  • Transfer the title and pay the taxes. This requires you to contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what you need to transfer the vehicle to your name. Some necessary paperwork includes the vehicle title, which the seller must fill out and sign upon transferring ownership. You should also find out what taxes you owe and pay those as well.

  • Warning: Avoid sellers who try to get you to use Western Union, MoneyGram, or other cash transfer methods to send them money. Most likely the seller is trying to scam you out of your money.

Method 2 of 2: Buy It Now on eBay Motors

Materials Needed

  • Computer or laptop
  • Paper and pencil

If you have the money available, you can also consider the Buy It Now option, if the seller has that option available. Buy It Now allows you to purchase an item at a certain price without needing to bid on it. The price on such items is usually at an amount the seller is comfortable accepting outside of the auction-style format bidding process.

Step 1: Choose vehicle type. First, decide what type of vehicle you want to purchase. Make sure to signify the year, make, and model of vehicle, in addition to any features or options you seek. You should also designate a budget for how much you want to spend on the vehicle.

listing search

Step 2: Search for listings. Search eBay Motors to bring up listings for the vehicles you are interested in buying. You can further narrow down your search using the categories on the left side of the page to look for certain trim levels, features, and special options offered. After finding the exact vehicle type that you want, you can click on individual listings to learn more about each specific vehicle listing.

  • Tip: You can also have a vehicle you are interested in inspected by a third-party mechanic using eBay Motor's Inspect My Ride partnership. For a fee, a mechanic from the partnership program will perform a 150+ point comprehensive vehicle inspection of the vehicle you want to buy.

Step 3: Research the sellers. Research the sellers of the particular vehicle listings you have an interest in buying. You should check out such criteria as the seller's feedback rating and any comments left on their feedback profile by past buyers. This should give you a clear idea of how reliable they have been with past sales.

buy it now button on ebay

Step 4: Click the Buy It Now button. This places the vehicle into your shopping cart. You have the option to place the vehicle in your cart for later purchase or to purchase it immediately.

  • Warning: Items in your shopping cart are still available to other buyers until you have clicked the Confirm and Pay button. If you wait too long, you could lose out on the vehicle you want.

Step 5: Proceed to Checkout. To purchase immediately, click the Proceed to Checkout button. This step pulls up your purchase information. From there, click the Confirm and Pay button to finalize the deal.

  • Warning: Make sure to take into account any shipping or additional costs when determining the final costs for the vehicle. You should have also taken this into account when figuring out your budget for purchasing a vehicle.

Step 6: Complete the process. The final steps in the process are to pay the seller, arrange for delivery or pickup of the vehicle, transfer the title, and pay any taxes owed. The listing description should have more information on accepted payment methods. Pickup or delivery falls to the buyer, though some sellers might offer shipping options.

Buying a vehicle on eBay Motors provides an easy way to find and purchase a vehicle without having to travel far. You have two basic options when purchasing a vehicle, including auction style and Buy It Now. By knowing what to look out for and how to best proceed when purchasing a vehicle on eBay Motors, you can ensure that you have an easy and safe buying experience.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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