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Buying and Selling Vehicles Online (eBay, etc.)



  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Most discussions focus on the buying or leasing experience, fewer on selling. I've traded, sold privately, donated and scrapped cars. Each has its advantages, depending on the value you place on convenience and your time, and the value and condition of the vehicle. While I've never experienced a problem, I've heard or read about some bad selling experiences.

    Those of you who've sold vehicles to private parties, through Ebay, Craigslist, newspaper adds, or signs on the window, do you follow any guidelines that could be of value to other readers? Any do's and don'ts, or unusual experiences you'd care to share?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    I have sold 4 vehicles on Craigslist. Patience is the key to success. Also take good pictures and use a photo service. My experience runs from one week to over one year to sell. My 2005 Passat TDI wagon sold in a week on Craigslist. My 2006 MB Cruiser RV took about 8 months and my 2005 GMC hybrid PU truck took just over a year. You have to repost your ads every week on Craigslist. It is free so that is good. It does not cover the whole US like the Auto Trader or eBay. Be careful giving out any info. Ask for a phone number to call for appointments. There are scam artists to beware of. You will get a lot of lowball offers. Again, patience cannot be over emphasized. If you have the vehicle priced right you will find a buyer eventually. I got $9000 more than I was offered in trade on my GMC PU truck. That is how much the dealer would have made on a near perfect truck.
  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    I've privately sold in excess of 50 cars over the past 35 years through various ways.

    Rule #1 - Don't overprice your vehicle. Just like houses, it's a rare buyer that will overpay as there's simply too much competition.

    Rule #2 - It's rare to get more than one seriously interested buyer in short order so it's best to sell it to that person. In other words, if it's at all possible, don't let your buyer get away by trying to squeeze that last dollar out of 'em. Of course, if you're in no hurry, you can wait and wait as a previous poster suggested.

    Rule #3 - Always include the following information in your ad: year, make, model, mileage, and price. Your wasting time (not just your own) and money if you omit any of those five items.

    Rule #4 - Do not misrepresent the vehicle in any manner, shape, or form. People have such low expectations as to honesty anymore that you'll build lots of rapport by being candid about your vehicles weak points (and virually all have them).
  • bkushnerbkushner Posts: 10
    Hi, so I bought it now on a new camry hybrid from a dealer in Tucson. After trying toreach him for 24 hours to pay him, he sends me an email stating they had sold the vehicle to another dealer. What is my recourse?
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    Probably nothing, that's most likely covered in the fine print in his ad. At most, negative feedback on ebay. Whoop-dee-doo. Why mess with ebay on such a common vehicle?
  • prithisprithis Posts: 13
    Sold my Land Rover Discovery in a week on Craiglist.

    First I shovelled out all the junk that had accumulated in the car. Then I spent $20 on having the car washed, and detailed at my local car wash. I took clear photographs of the exterior and interior (remembering to blank out the license plates). I wrote up a detailed factual description of the vehicle without putting in any adjectives such as "excellent" or "good", but at the same time putting in key selling points such as first owner, accident-free, detailed maintenance records available, garage-kept, non-smoker etc. I also put the VIN number on the description.

    I also spent a week researching Edmunds, KBB etc for a sale price. I had it appraised by Carmax (they give a detailed inspection report which is handy in a private sale) as well as a couple of local used car dealers. I also scoured Craiglist and Ebay to find out how much similar cars were selling for. I finally settled on a price.

    I posted my listing on Craiglist. Within an hour I started getting "bites". More than 50% of these inquiries were from scammers, offering to buy my car without inspection and paying through a wire transfer service or cashiers check, and advising me that their shipper would pick up the vehicle. I also got a few genuine inquiries, including requests for more details on the condition, and time for an inspection.

    The first guy who showed up to see the car test drove it, and inspected the car thoroughly. He said that he would come back the next day with his wife and the money. He never showed up.

    The second guy who showed up test drove the car, and inspected the engine, went under the car. He made an offer which was $2000 less than what I had asked for. When I refused, he left me his number and asked me to call him if I did changed my mind. I did not call him. After several hours he called me and offered $500 below what I had asked. I accepted. He came next day with his wife and the money and we completed the transaction.

    The guy requested a Bill of Sale (though one is not required in Illinois) so that he had some proof in case he got stopped by the cops for driving a car without plates. So I put together a Bill of Sale with an "As is" warranty clause after seeing several templates on the internet. There was nothing wrong with the car at the time of sale, but I just wanted to make sure that this clause was included to safeguard me.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Thanks for that detailed report. It should be helpful to our members.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • calleaghncalleaghn Posts: 4
    I live in California and just bought a car on ebay from a New Jersey dealer. I am dealing directly with one particular salesman by cell phone. He has asked me to give him my social security number and a copy of my drivers license. I've never heard of this as a requirement for title transfer and I want to make sure it's on the level. Why would I need to give him all this info?
  • prithisprithis Posts: 13
    This sounds very fishy. Unless you are financing your car through the dealer there is no reason for him to ask for your social security number.

    I would say that the request for a copy of the drivers license is reasonable (for title and registration) but NOT social security.

    Also, I was just curious how you are buying a car from NJ while you are in CA. Dont you want to inspect and test drive the car? If the dealer is offering the car at a deep discount which makes it economical to buy from across the country, what is his reason for such a discount?

    I would do some more investigation before I do this, and I would certainly not give out my SSN unless I am financing it through him.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    I smell a rat my friend. I think you might have boo-booed.

    Do not give him your SSN at all.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I would say that the request for a copy of the drivers license is reasonable (for title and registration) but NOT social security.

    That is complicated by the fact that some states use the social security number as your driver's license number too.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Fortunately, my state just outlawed that. You can't even do it if you want to. Makes my DL # harder to remember, but also my identity is less likely to be stolen.


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  • calleaghncalleaghn Posts: 4
    as far as buying the car out of state-
    i did my homework regarding the car and the dealer. it's a '07 prius with 27,000 miles, still under warranty (which transfers with the car). also, got it through ebay, where the seller has a long, dependable history and is interested in keeping a good reputation. through ebay, the purchase is covered up to $50,000 against fraud and more. i don't expect to have to deal with any of that, but i decided it was worth the risk for getting just the car i wanted.

    the request for identification info did make me a bit nervous initially. i just hadn't come across it before. all good there now.

    it wasn't too steep a discount, though i ended saving $6-8000 off what i would've paid for a new one. and used prius' just can't be found in my neck of the woods. people get hold of one and don't let go....
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I know you did your homework but a 2007 Prius selling for $6k-$8k off new just doesn't sound right. I know it has 27k miles but the used Prius I have seen for sale really hold onto their value. I hope it works for you.
  • vlanevlane Posts: 8
    Great post! Craigslist can do it for you if you are patient and your vehicle is properly priced. Detailed pictures and maintenance records are also a must -have to ensure a quick sale on CL. Only deal with respectable people and if it sounds too good it IS.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    vlane says, "Only deal with respectable people..."

    When you are on Craigslist shopping for ANYTHING, how on Earf can you make sure you are "dealing with respectable people?"

    Do a background check on the person? Interview their parents?

    Craigslist is something you should be VERY CAREFUL if buying a high-dollar item. Buying used clothes for your kids or a cheap this or that is fine. But you generally have zero recourse if someone cheats you.

    I will add a caveat:

    Personally, Craigslist saved my butt once. I needed to get rid of a high-dollar lease vehicle that was WAY TOO MUCH VEHICLE for my family (it shrunk because of a divorce). I was in the bucket BIG-TIME and could not sell it or trade it and it was too expensive to drive.

    I was on the verge of seriously considering allowing the bank to Repo the vehicle, which would have of course killed my credit - and I was home-shopping at the time !!!

    I posted a CL ad, and LO AND BEHOLD I found a family who "needs a vehicle that size but we have terrible credit" and they were willing to pay me cash each month for a portion of the $872 payment on the vehicle. I took a large risk by trusting them, but they WERE honest people, thank gosh.

    They ended up keeping it for a little over two years and helping me pay it off in full. I paid around $15,000 on the truck AFTER they leased it from me, but they kept it until it was paid off and I signed the title over to them at the end. It was a win-win for both of us.

    I would not advise that course of action for anyone, but I did want to pass this along as a "risk" which turned out to be luckily worth it for me.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Article in my local paper tonight:

    Scammer sells luxury cars on using fake Boise address (Idaho Statesman)

    Steve, visiting host
  • brygxbrygx Posts: 2
    Lots of comments from people buying locally on Ebay, and people selling on Ebay. Anyone actually bought from someone on the other side of the continent? I'm contemplating buying a late-model VW from a dealer in New Hampshire, I'm on the west coast. Questions:

    1) Would you fly to see the car? If so, how long would you stay, and how would you get there, etc?
    2) Have it taken to a third-party mechanic (a no-brainer if you didn't do #1)?
    3) How did you negotiate pricing?

    It's being sold by a car dealership (ad from autotrader and craigslist), so at least it's unlikely to be a complete fraud.
  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    I've bought long distance twice. Both were private sales facilitated through ebay. The first was highly successful. The second less so (although still a good car).

    1) The answer to this (and #2) largely depends on what type of dealer has the car. If it's a new car store (especially a VW store), I most likely would be content with high quality photos so long as the service history is documented and the Carfax is good (not that it is any guarantee). Also, would try to wrangle the previous owner's name/number and talk with her/him.

    If you do go, it seems to me that you fly into Boston and rent a car for the drive up.

    2) Really don't see much point in this on a late model transaction if the caveats in #1 apply. If they don't, I wouldn't buy.

    3) Negotiating long distance or in-person is pretty much the same in my direct approach - "I'll pay X dollars" (seller accepts or not) or "what will it take to buy it?" (I accept or not).

    What kind of late model VW is worth the hassle of long distance?
  • brygxbrygx Posts: 2
    In either case, did you fly to see the car? Under what circumstances would you think that's necessary?

    As for which car, this is probably going to put me in a world of hurt, but ... =) I'm leaning towards the VW GTI. My top pick would be a Cooper S, although I'd prefer a 4dr and the GTI does have a 4dr style. My next pick would be the Mazdaspeed 3, with the downsides being it's lower mpg and a bit big (more stationwagon-like instead of hatch). Other cars off my list were the WRX (too ricer), BMW 335i (too expensive to maintain), and Elise (can't drive it anywhere).
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,720
    The 4-door GTI is one of my favorite cars! :)

    Flying across the country to get one seems like overkill, though... They aren't exactly rare, are they?


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    No, both were about 500 miles away and we drove.

    You're talking about flying just to take a look? Wow, can't imagine doing so on something that would just be a driver. Hmmm....probably would if looking at a collector car that was represented as premium with a price to match.

    As for drivers, the only way I'd even think about long distance would be for a rare condition, option package, or color combination. Otherwise, I keep within 100 or so miles of home - easy to do here in Columbus.

    The first car (for my daughter) was an extremely low mileage example in the precise color/equipment combination that she demanded. Yes, demanded, as was her right since she'd carried a torch for it since the age of 9!

    The second was just a fluke as I needed a car in a hurry.
  • Concerning buying an out of state or area vehicle, does anyone has any knowledge of a reliable warranty company, for used cars?

    I came across an 06 Audi A-4 S-line 6M, loaded with the every available option for a pretty decent price. As it sits, it's at about 51,xxx miles, which is just out of warranty, if I'm correct.

    I have never purchased a used car from an individual before, so I have a few concerns about the reliability and such. Buying at a dealership would offer some sort of relief, in the event something serious happens shortly after the purchase. I have spoken with the owner and he seems fairly honest and mature. The car looks immaculate, and I do plan to do a quick mechanics check before I buy. But with the knowledge of it being a VW product, I know that there is the possibility for problems later on down the line (nothing against any VW / Audi, but this is a known fact). The seller recommended one company in particular, but a quick google search revealed that there were numerous issues with this company, mainly in the Great Lakes and PA area.

    This company is called Great Lakes Warranty. The coverage they provide looks good on paper, but I read that the process of getting an APPROVED claim was the hard part. If anyone else has any experience with them, please chime in..

    The next company I came across was Warranty Direct , their coverage read very good, but in my opinion, the rates were kinda pricey, even compared to Great Lakes Warranty coverage. I mean, I was looking at a little over $4000 for all major componets covered, and that was only for 3yr or 37000 miles with about $150 deductable. Maybe this is the norm, so if i'm bugging over that, then give me some feedback.

    Again, if anyone has any additional info , please chime in, as it would be greatly appreciated. And as always, thanks for the space..
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    You could try posting over in the Extended Warranties forum but you won't get any recommendation for a 3rd party warranty.

    Extended Warranties
  • cpr3cpr3 Posts: 16
    Hi there -
    Am hoping that someone has had some experience with purchasing a car online ( through a small time dealer across the country.) How does the process work in terms of exchanging $$$ and the title? The car will be shipped cross-country and is being held w/ a deposit.

    Is the standard practice to pay for the vehicle in-full before receiving the title (???) Or is it reasonable to request that the seller overnight you the title ( while they still have the vehicle.) When you receive the title you wire the remaining $ and the seller releases the car to the shipper?

    Any advice is much appreciated!
  • madmanmoomadmanmoo Posts: 2,039
    Good luck with getting the title before the dealer receives all the money. No, that is not reasonable.

    Wire them the money or send them a cashier's check. Once your money shows in their account, then they will send the title out to you.

    If the vehicle is not delivered to you in the shape that is guaranteed through your contract, then that contract is null and void.
  • delthekingdeltheking Posts: 1,152
    Hi, I think buying on Ebay is really amazing if u do a little research.
    I purchased a 06 Honda Pilot and an 06 loaded Lexus GX SUV for amazing prices.Both were located in Florida.And those are kind of costly cars to be buying unseen.
    And they were shipped without me even seeing the cars.. :P

    That was the best buying experience I ever had.the cars were in superb condition and I was very satisfied.
    Of course ,I did my research,,which is very very important--Check the carfax first,,see the seller feedback and reviews--very important,,better if they are powersellers with a sellers guarantee,,and ask the seller questions.

    For anyone buying online unseen for the 1st time,,it may seem like a leap of faith but do your research and u can get a great deal.
    Also if possible,,buy cars which are not from the snow areas as they can have a lot of rust...U can also check Carfax on this.

    But really,,,Ebay is a great way to buy cars.If I can buy a high end Lexus unseen then u can buy any good car unseen by doing your research!!
    Just MHO!! :shades:
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798

    Also if possible,,buy cars which are not from the snow areas as they can have a lot of rust...

    And cars from the south are usually flood damaged pig, that had lipstick put on it.

    So, the point is....???
  • emjay1emjay1 Posts: 22
    Many of you may be too young to have heard that phrase, but what it means is basically buying something sight-unseen. It's a risky proposition, at best. There are too many horror stories out there to enter blindly into a contract with someone. The best thing to do is - as a previous poster said - do your homework. Know what you're looking for and what you want to pay. If you can find a car locally that you can go see, and if you can actually talk to the seller face to face, you have a better chance of getting what you bargained for. We have been very fortunate to come out winners in three different online vehicle purchases from out of state - but it still scares me. I feel like we're playing the odds. This next purchase is going to be local. I don't want to take any more chances (that is if I can hold my husband back. He's an online buyer MANIAC!)
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