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Buying and Selling Vehicles Online (eBay, etc.)

andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 17,592
how can you say that RX8 is a good deal when you don't know how much it will end up going for?

Plus you have the problem of arranging transportation, inspection etc.

I don't know what this car satickers for but $28,5 doesn't strike as a low starting bid.

2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC



  • It's basically a dealer advertising that they are willing to sell the car for $600 off MSRP. Exposure can go a long way in a local/regional sense. However, it would not make sense for everyone else in the U.S.!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,078
    Well the dealer has an opening bid of $28.5 K and a "buy it now" price of $30.5K which means anyone off the street can have it for that. How does a Mazda dealer "win" in a contest the same car he is selling? Seems quite the coincidence.

    And that's true, shipping is expensive. And I"m not sure you want to put your brand new car on an open trailer without the usual protective features that the manufacturer uses when shipping (bumper tape, padding, sometimes heavy waxes, etc.). Closed transport is REAL expensive.

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  • Not that you'd have this problem buying from a dealer on ebay, but there have been quite a few stories lately about nasty ebay (and other auction site) fraud going on for the higher-priced items (like cars). No way I'm spending $30K without physically inspecting the car first...
  • b4zb4z Posts: 3,372
    I have been doing a lot of bidding on ebay in the last month.
    The downside is that you are bidding against other people which ususally drives the price up.
    The upside is that you get a much better choice than you will locally.
    I am looking for a Lexus, at any one time there are 80-100 LS 400s for sale.
    If Packards are you thing then there are usually 14 for sale.
    The selection is unbelievable.
    You will never find that locally, unless you live in LA or NYC.
    There are a lot of excellent cars with very low miles out there.
    Recently there was a pefect '90 Lexus LS 400 with only 77K miles (5500 miles a year!!!). It went for $8100!!

    That bidder didn't get a deal but he got an incredible car. If i have to pay a few hundred more on ebay and get the exact car i want with low miles, I don't mind driving 5-600 miles to pick it up.

    I recently drove to Augusta GA to look at a Toyota Land Cruiser that a friend was going to buy.
    While we were there we stopped at the local Lexus dealer in Martinez.
    They had a '96 LS 400 with only 51K miles that had a perfect interior.
    Unfortunately it was an ugly exterior color. They wanted $19,999 for it.

    When we got back that evening I got on ebay and there was the same car with a "Buy It Now" price of $21,995. Won't be doing business with them.

    There is quite a bit of shill bidding going on also.
    The key is to buy from poeple who have high seller feedback ratings (over 98%).

    And buy from the people who give a lot of detail and show a lot of pics.

    Especially look at the front seat wear. Call a dealership with the vin# and get the service history of the car.

    Lastly if you are the high bidder but did not meet the reserve price the seller will contact you to ask if you will buy if for X price.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,078
    Prices are usually very high on Ebay. That '90 Lexus is $1,000 over top retail, even with the low miles.

    But, as you say, what Ebay does offer is selection. I think I could find a low miles Lexus where I live, in the Bay Area, but people in other places would be hard put to find that car, so maybe "convenience" is worth paying over retail?

    On the other hand, buying a car you can't see is scary. People lie like rugs on Ebay, and what you see with a digital camera is hardly the "truth".

    Another problem is that if you have a squabble with a seller with a car you buy out of state, you might have to take legal action in the state of sale, not in your state---and that is an extra hassle and expense.

    I've sold on Ebay very successfully but wouldn't buy on Ebay without a thorough real life inspection. I tried twice and both cars were conspicuously misrepresented. So that kind of reveals my point of view.

    I think there are righteous sellers, however. My friend picked up a very nice car recently, (Jeep Wrangler) but it was inspected beforehand.

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  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    The best thing about eBay are the photos of the cars. Often you see detailed photographs of dream cars unmatched by any magazine review. If some hot new exotic car comes out and I really want to take a good look at it, I don't go and buy the latest issue of Car and Driver. I don't surf over to I go to eBay and window-shop the ads.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 19,841
    As a few folks here have already pointed out, there are many times that the bidding on something like a car can get out of hand.

    However, I have seen the occasional odd car go for an absolute steal on there and just wish I had been the one to get it. I've never seen it with anything new or even a few years old. Its usually the 10 or 15 or 20 year old garage queen with low miles that, for some reason, gets overlooked.

    Just this past summer I saw a real nice 1984 RX7 GSL-SE (pretty rare find - i think it was in washington or oregon) with no rust, low miles, and not even a tear in the leather and it went for what I thought was a REAL low number (wish I could remember what that was - i only remember wishing i had a job at the time and could spend the money on a toy like that). Also saw a mid-60s showcar (really blanking on this one cause it was a car I never heard of, but it was beautiful) that had less than 10K miles and was seriously like looking at something sitting on the dealer showroom floor in the 60s. It didn't sell. Problem was it was a straight six version instead of the V8. Again, though, if I had the money at that moment, I would have gladly bought that car.

    So it takes some patience and probably even some flexibility as to what you want to buy, but the deals do exist on there. It might be just someone like me who is willing to give a home to one of a thousand different makes and models from the past 40 years that this applies to, but at least it works to some extent.

    '14 Jetta TDI wagon; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 41-car history and counting!

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,078
    Well, easy to explain. A 1984 RX7 isn't worth anything, that's why the price was low. It's a $1,000 car all day long. My old Benz diesel for instance, is worth what it's worth (not much). To someone, getting a very clean old Benz for $1,250 is a "steal", but that's what the market is.

    so what I"m saying is that if some cars are bargains on Ebay, it isn't because of Ebay, it's because the cars are bargains no matter where you sell them.

    But yes, you might not FIND those bargains elsewhere so easily, you're right about that.

    Ebay is driven by supply and demand just like any other market, with the added externality of bidder competition driving prices up I think.

    Really you'd have to see the car in person to know if it were a "steal" or not. You simply can't tell from the photos, it's very tricky.

    Is a clean low mileage WHATEVER a steal if the transmission acts real funny when you get it delivered to your house? Or if that digital camera hid the brush marks in the paint?

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  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 19,841
    I knew i could count on you to say that about the rx7, shifty. But, as you also pointed out, try to find it anywhere else. Its not going to happen. There are certain cars that there is just no "book" on. The price is what you are willing to pay for it.

    Regardless, watch what RX7s sell for on there and you'd know this particular one was, in fact, a real bargain based on what others have paid for worse examples. I've seen earlier RX7s in not great shape go for more.

    Of course, this brings up the whole "market" issue. On one hand, someone like you looks at that car and thinks it ain't worth much (it definitely went for more than $1K). But if several others think it is.... well, then, that's what its worth, isn't it? Same with any car. People pay more for a 2-year-old bimmer than I would ever fork over for it, but just because i don't think its worth it doesn't mean the market won't bear it.

    The rx is only a $1K car to YOU. But since a dozen other people who saw it were willing to pay more, than its obviously worth more than your assessment on the open market. And considering I thought it was still a steal beyond the price paid, then it is worth more still because folks are willing to pay it.

    oh, and i do agree about wanting to see the car. I'd be hard pressed to buy a car sight unseen. Not so much because I don't trust people (especially since i'd only do that with someone who had immaculate feedback well into the triple digits) but because I don't trust that they necessarily know what to look for.

    '14 Jetta TDI wagon; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 41-car history and counting!

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,078
    Well, I haven't seen the particular RX-7 sold on Ebay so I can't appraise it. All I'm passing on is the information that old RX-7s are generally very low dollar cars, so one should be careful about assessing their sale as "a steal". Could be the only theft going on is on the part of the seller. He may have made out like a bandit. Good for him. Could be, too, that the buyer could never resell at that price.

    The problem here, which comes up all the time in understanding used car values, is that one sale on Ebay doesn't set the market for old RX-7s. All it proves is on that day that one car sold for more than book value. Fair enough.

    I just saw a beautiful, drop dead gorgeous 1980 Porsche 928 for sale, (today) all records, $20,000 spend recently on mechanicals, two-owner, bright red paint, a virtual supercar for.......$5,500.

    A steal? Nope, that's what it's worth. But the "outsider" to Porsche values would probably gasp in disbelief that so much car could be had for so little money.

    So what's the catch with bargain RX-7s and 928s? Why are they so cheap? Because so few people want them, basically.

    Another problem with auctions, either live or Ebay, is that the auction "drama" or "competition" tends to drive up the price beyond the normal pressures of supply and demand. So you get a couple bidders getting really hungry for the car and they whip each other into a bidding frenzy and pay over book for something.

    This doesn't mean they were "ripped" by any means, if they got what they wanted and what they expected. Maybe they paid too much but it's their money, so what's the argument?

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  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 19,841
    but how do you put a "worth" or even a "market" on something that there is no comparison for? That 928 you speak of, for instance, have you seen another with $20K invested and in such beautiful shape sell for $5500 recently? something like that is worth what someone is willing to pay. That's the definition of "market." The market is what folks are paying. And you can't say someone paid too much without a basis of comparison. If you could pull up 10 other sales of 928s in perfect shape with $20K invested over the past 2 or 3 months and say "ok, so they all sold for an average of $5K-$6K", then there is your market and value. Since you can't do that, then there is no true value or worth that we can determine other than what someone pays.

    The one thing you can learn from ebay is that more than one person was willing to pay that price or somewhere very near it. in a private sale or dealer sale, a price is agreed upon. That doesn't tell you much. ESPECIALLY when its something that there is no match for on the market. I can't look through autotrader or the local paper and find even one example, let alone several, of that 928 to tell me what I truly should be paying for it. But on ebay, or any auction environment, the price was set through a bidding process. So at least one other person was willing to pay $5450 for that 928.

    i do agree with you about the heat of auctions, however. I go to auctions quite often with my wife (mostly for antiques and furniture, but the occasional car comes up) and sometimes you just have to laugh at people.

    '14 Jetta TDI wagon; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 41-car history and counting!

  • revdrluvrevdrluv Posts: 417
    I bought a 95 Miata on Ebay. Great car, but like shifty said, it wasn't quite in the condition the seller said it was. It wasn't trashed in any way, but things were a little off. He said new tires, I felt I needed to replace them right away. The car needed new brake pads. The top was a little more weathered than stated as well, but that was about it. Still a decent car for the money though. Would I do it again? Probably not.

    Although, has anyone heard of, or used those car inspection services that will go check out a car for you in a location far away? If those services are legit I would consider ebay again.

    Of course I only used ebay back then because I was living in such a small town that it was hard to find the exact car I was looking for. Now that I am in LA I doubt I will need ebay unless I am buying something super rare. The classified section here is like a used car superstore.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 19,841
    Anytime I go on there and actually want to surf for vehicles, I restrict the results to my area. I'm definitely going to check that car out and I'd hate to pay for shipping.

    '14 Jetta TDI wagon; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 41-car history and counting!

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,078
    The 928 hasn't sold at $5,500 but it's the right price I think. That's the "market" for a "decent" example. At $10,000 it would never sell, at $2,500 it would sell in a minute. After 20 years of doing this, you know what a 1980 Porsche 928 is worth, you just do. Wouldn't matter if it were on Ebay or the daily newspaper or an Internet ad. That's about what it's going to bring, give or take a little.

    Ebay is actually fine for helping in the setting market prices, because, as you say, they are real people offering real dollars (most of the time anyway). But, and this is a very large but---Ebay is a good market indicator as long as you take a large enough sampling. If one buyer overpays for an RX-7 that doesn't mean the market value is now higher for old RX-7s. All it means is (and this is common sense) an exceptional example of something, an "extra-ordinary" example, will bring a price higher than usual market.

    It's sound somewhat implausible to think that with a large number of spirited bidders, a car could be a "steal". If you think about it, the only way to "steal" something at an auction is if everyone else is asleep. This happens sometimes in real live auctions but on Ebay, it's hard for a really good car to go completely unnoticed for 7 days.

    All in all, I'd say you pay more for comparable merchandise on Ebay than you would shopping on your own, either initially or in having to invest more money in your Ebay purchase than you planned. Perhaps one reason you pay more is that everybody finds the same car at the same time. There is no "discovery" by which you can make a killing.

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  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 19,841
    oh, i've see people paying more on ebay all the time for things they could get anywhere for less if they just look around. But we're talking about those types of things you usually can't get by opening the paper or driving around your immediate area.

    next time i spot something that i think "slipped through the cracks" i'll try to remember to post it here (after the auction, of course ... or after I buy it :)).

    '14 Jetta TDI wagon; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 41-car history and counting!

  • I look at eBay all the time for cars...71-72 Eldorado and 95-02 Eldorado. I would be hard pressed to buy sight unseen and car untouched.

    I did have an out-of-state car buying experience, and it's pricy. Last fall I bought a '72 Eldorado in Dallas on an ad that appeared in (see pre 1981 cars listed). is a compendium of newspaper ads nationwide. So this too can be excellent tool for searching for a specific car offered for sale at specific price...not in competitive bidding.

    I flew Denver to Dallas to buy the car after agreeing to a specific price. I had chanced on a very affordable flight. But cost in time, hotel, meals and risk of the car not being what was described was considerable. I came away fairly happy.

    I have bought a number of small car-related items off eBay with no trouble.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 53,078
    yes, please, gbrozen, post anything that you think might have been a bargain on Ebay---that would be interesting to talk about and discuss what might have caused that to happen.

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  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    Ok, it wasn't a car... but car related. A near-perfect driver's seat from a Toyota Highlander for $1 (plus $32 shipping). If I had been willing to drive 25 miles out of my way, I could have saved the shipping.

    The seat looks new and has an intact airbag. The seller listed it with no reserve and a $1 starting bid. For whatever reason, maybe the description line was missing key words or had a misspelling, but my bid was the only bid.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 21,131
    Still seems like there are a lot of reserve cars that don't sell, and don't seem to get that close to "market". I recently bid on a BMW (2000 3 series) that I was interested in, but only if I got a "steal" on it. It was about an hour away, so I could have gone to see it.

    This was from a power seller (?), perfect feedback, so I was as confident on the validity of the car as possible on E-bay.

    Anyway, I was high bidder at $16,500 (probably would have gone higher, but got wind of it late). Per Terry (RRoyce on real world trade in values), wholesale was about 17K (IIRC), dealer maybe 19,900 to kick it. Needless to say, it was a no sale. Spoke to seller, and they had a "bottom line" slaes price of about 20.5, so not too far out of line.

    Well, it got relisted, and no saled at 15,300 (I didn't bid). So, as far as Ebay is concerned, this is about a 16K car (+/- 500 or so). I would have snapped this up at 16.5 (maybe a bit more), but at 20+, might as well buy certified fron a dealer.

    And no, I'm not really brave enough to buy sight unseen, slap it on a trailer and hop I like it.

    What does this all mean? I have no freakin idea, but it is handy to track auctions on cars you are interested in, to get a feel for the market, even if you aren't planning to bid.

    I'll tell the story some other time about the '97 Volvo in Florida I came within 2 minutes and $100 of buying, kinda by "accident", but remember to be careful of what you low ball bid on, becasue you might win it.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    I haven't followed many cars on ebay but I would expect that, on average, that bid prices would be lower than local market prices. It's like when a customer phones wanting an appraisal on a used car over the phone - I don't get too motivated until I see it and touch it.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 19,841
    I've actually bee watching some real low-end cars lately just to get an idea of the market on them (i.e., Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio). I figured nobody would be bidding on these things and they'd be going for a steal (if ANY price on a RIO is a steal, that is). Seems to me people are paying more than I could get them for at the local MegaCarMart.

    '14 Jetta TDI wagon; '98 Volvo S70 base; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 41-car history and counting!

  • I think alot of the spread between bid values and market value are buyers handicapping a car for the "sight unseen" aspect of the purchasing process. If I were a seller, I would place my reserve at somewhere between $500+ above my wholesale purchase + prep cost or close to my estimate of where a private party transaction would occur. Once again, I think alot of Ebay's value is in providing an inventory notice to a large pool of potential buyers for follow-up the traditional way.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I use Ebay to buy a lot of things from private buyers.

    I have friend who collect exotic cars and OCCASIONALLY purchase them through EBay after he has flown out to see the vehicle. He will not buy a car without a personal inspection except in rare cases. He has the money and the time to do that.

    However, unless you live in Podunk, MT or some remote outpost, I think that it is kind of crazy to buy a garden variety sedan through EBay when you can go out and kick the tires in person on hundreds of vehicles.

    Now if you are looking for a '59 Jaguar ...
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... There can be some nice vehicles on eBay, having bought and sold 25+ vehicles it's a another good market ..

              But the funny part about eBay in the last year or so is that more and more dealers use it (which is fine) and most of the private sellers try to compete with their inflated prices and most have their reserves pumped up .. your there to sell it, not to make a planter out of it, so the ego needs to be parked when you go to display it, half of something is alot better than half of nothing ..

             Perhaps I didn't read Mr_Shiftrights post correctly .. but I don't feel eBay is Any indication of real market values. Whether you are looking at 3,000 vehicles in Atlanta or 3,500 in Dallas, dealers, as well privates get caught up in this "bevy of buying", especially for the "rookies" .. there has been quite a few times that I have been to a large auction, maybe running 4,0/5,000 vehicles and some of the dealers will buy right out of the book and I have gone home empty handed .. but the point is, you just have to know when to stop .l.o.l.

  • rroyce10 - the market is comprised of both smart and not so smart buyers and sellers. The more efficient the market, the higher the percentage of smart sellers and buyers. In the car market, there is a really huge range. While I may laugh at the not so smart buyer or seller, the reality is that the more not so smart buyers or sellers, the better for me. I would make alot less money as a car seller if everyone was a sharp whipper-snapper.

    Regarding Ebay, I don't think the prices are indicative, but because they're not, by nature there are opporunities (albeit smaller and few). The reality is that it's more about gaining exposure to potential buyers for the sellers than anything else. This is true for both the rare cars as well as the not so rare cars. I used to look daily at BMW 3-series as well which is by no means a rare car. Did I ever find an appetizing deal? No, except I would sometimes find something pleasant to daydream about like a fine specimen late 80's/90's well maintained 3-series convertible. But even there, the type of private seller who lists on Ebay has demonstrated they are willing to put in the extra work to make $$ on their car vs. trade-in or a simple classified ad. Also, shipping combined with "sight unseen" make most cars less attractive than their local newspaper listed counterparts.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Interestingly, I've found the opposite phenomenon. I've been watching the Saab 9-5 market for a couple months now, and the "Buy it Now" prices listed are, by and large, far more attractive than what I've been seeing locally (by locally, I mean "the state of Iowa, plus Chicago and Minneapolis.") This isn't Massachusetts, where there's a Saab dealer in every other town, and perhaps the dealers play the "rarity" card around here; I don't know.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... Good point .. I sometimes forget that there is some folks that live in Utah, Iowa .. Fargo, ND .... :)

  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Yeah, but I'd find the "rarity card" more beleivable if I were only looking in Iowa. The fact that I'm including Chicago and Minneapolis (both equidistant, a little under four hours driving time) would, I think, tend to negate that.
  • One thing I do notice though is the phenomenon associated with convertible purchases. There seems to be quite a bit of interest in the southern non-snow & rust impacted convertibles. It appears folks in the North are willing to pay a slight premium to get themselves a pre-owned car that hasn't been exposed to the elements. Conversely, for me living in Dallas, I think the opportunity is sometimes with sellers in the North who are having a tough time unloading a convertible or RWD coupe in that region. If I could find some poor private seller in Idaho with a 1st generation Miata that he/she has babied, there might be some play in the price. However, I still think if you're patient and you live in a large urban area, you will eventually find the specimen you want, be able to see and touch it, and avoid shipping costs.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... Good points .. the funny part is, folks will pay extra money for a "Florida" convertible ... (don't tell anyone to "taste" a fender or a hood off their next rental car in Orlando, they may taste some salt .. That's a big ocean out there and it's a big secret, so don't tell anyone) .l.o.l...

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