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Is it Safe to Buy a Car on eBay?

Updated on June 15, 2013

Everyone has a story about how a neighbor or a neighbor's uncle got scammed on eBay. They won the bid only to not get the product or the product was either broken or not of the quality as advertised. This made them wary of making large purchases on eBay. So this begs the question, is it safe to buy a car on eBay? This article will show why it is safe to buy a car on eBay and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

People have been buying and selling cars on eBay for a while

 eBay is the quintessential online auction site.  Other auction companies have tried and have not succeeded in competing with eBay.  You can find just about anything on eBay and for the most part, at a price that will make you happy.  eBay has existed successfully for over 10 years so I think they have been pretty good at reducing the scams and making people feel much more comfortable buying products on their site.  But to buy a car on eBay requires more of a leap of faith.  You're going to shell out thousands of dollars.   People have been buying and selling cars successfully on eBay for many years.  Here are some of steps that can help reduce the anxiety if you decide to buy a car on eBay:

Payment Made


Use PayPal for the Purchase

eBay owns PayPal and purchases are protected because of that. When dealing with a car however, you typically put up a deposit. If the car sold is not what was advertised, you have recourse since the payment was made with PayPal.

Get a Vehicle History Report

This is only valid for vehicles that were made on or after 1981. This can be done right on eBay. The cost is $99.50 but is well worth it to know. You're going to likely pay thousands for the car. This extra expense can save you a lot of headaches later on.

Buy Locally Whenever Possible

eBay gives you the ability to put in your zip code when searching for a car (or any item for that matter).  If you find a car you like that is within your area, you can make arrangements to go see the car and perhaps bring a mechanic with you.

Look at the seller's feedback score

eBay lets its buyers rate the sellers with a feedback score. It used to let sellers do the same but they have become a tad bit more seller unfriendly lately. Still if you plan to buy a car on eBay, you have the advantage of knowing if others have had any problems. It's a bit more difficult with cars to measure this because there aren't too many people that buy and sell cars frequently except for maybe dealers and classic car enthusiasts. But if it is available, make sure you look through the feedback.



Use the eBay Buyer's Checklist

This is an indispensable guide in my opinion.  It goes over many items that you should check before bidding and it has tools like the Vehicle History Report.  Don't bid without going through this checklist.

Watch Out for this Craigslist/Ebay Scam

Check to See If the Car is Covered by eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection

There are many restrictions to what is covered but eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection does give you some added safety if you are going to buy a car on eBay. It's really important to read those restrictions though. You could get a false sense of security thinking that you are covered when you really are not.


As I have stated earlier, many people have been successfully buying and selling cars on eBays for several years. It takes common sense and some due diligence. But if you follow the guidelines of this article it is safe to buy a car on eBay.

Buying a Car on eBay

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