Would you consider buying a car...or selling one for that matter...over the Internet?
Where would you go to buy or sell a car online? Who can you trust?
Here's some eye-opening car buying and selling online statistics I'd like to share with you...
eBay Motors is the world's largest online marketplace for all things automotive and they have over 12 million shoppers car buying online every month with a vehicle selling every 60 seconds.
eBay Motors is so big, It's the most visited used car buying online website on the planet! There are more unique auto shoppers every month at eBay Motors than all the other major outlets, such as Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and Yahoo Autos combined...let me say it again...that's COMBINED.
It's a quick and easy way to expose your vehicles to buyers nationwide...even worldwide!
Here's another interesting fact -- 75% of the vehicles sold on eBay Motors are sold to out-of-state buyers.
So why be confined to a small local market when buying or selling your car? It just doesn't make sense.
And apparently there are a whole lot of people who aren't bothered by buying or selling a vehicle over the Internet.
What you'll discover within this article is why, and how you can do it too, while staying safe and protecting yourself from the scamers and thieves out there that want to separate you from your money or property.
Come with me while we checkout the best places to go, and what to do to stay safe.
The Big 4 car buying online review
My advice is to use the below car buying online websites, as well as edmonds.com, kbb.com (Kelly Blue Book) and jdpower.com, to do your research on the value of the car you're looking for, what you should be paying for it and what the auto industry and consumers say about the vehicle in the reviews.
Here are the features I like the best about the big four...
Autotrader.com - This is a classified listing site. Most of their listings are car dealers with a few private owner listings sprinkled in between. There's very helpful tips on buying new, certified preowned or used cars. Good place to visit to research seller asking price or to get retail and invoice pricing.
Cars.com - This is a classified listing site. Most of their listings are car dealers with a few private owner listings sprinkled in between. It has an awesome shopping advice section, particularly the manufacturer's incentive programs, which is most useful when doing your research on cash back and special financing offered on your new car.
eBay Motors - You already know this...but I'll tell you anyway...this is an auction site. Their listings are a 50/50 mix of car dealers and private party used car sellers. Here you'll find a great tips and advice section that completely describes the car buying online process for both buyers and sellers of vehicles, and check this out...in the left column there is a "Search Options" section that allows you to query "Completed Listings". By using this handy feature for the car you want, you now know what others have paid for the same vehicle...and therefore...what you should be paying too.
Yahoo Autos - You can view beautiful photos of the new car you like...up to 19 outside and inside shots organized extremely well for easy, pinpointed, new car research. I really like their new car quick facts too...just click on the make, model and year you are interested in and up pops the quick facts page where you can see what Cash Back or Special Financing is available, a "Total Cost To Own" calculator is also available where you can see what it will cost you to own the vehicle you're looking to buy over a five-year period...and it's based on your local area. Another useful feature is the owner reviews that you can use to determine ownership satisfaction. Used car listings for Yahoo Autos are provided by Autotrader.com.
Side Note: Here's a link to a great site I found where you can do a meta search on most, if not all, the car sites for the vehicle your looking for on just one query. It saves you time -- you don't have to visit each site and type in the information over and over again...here it is: carchex.carminer.com.
Online car buying tips for buyers
The tips here a primarily for eBay auto auctions, but you can use most of them for the online classified sites as well. Once you know what you should be paying for the car you want by checking out what others are paying on eBay Motors, you can query the online, car classified sites with the car specifics and price. If you get a hit on your search criteria and you like the vehicle, contact the classified listing owner and make an offer.
But read these important tips first...
Focus on one car. Choose a make and model, then hit the Internet market place. It's easier to make frequent checks on the Internet car market by using an exact model in the search field. Then narrow things down further by year -- "from and to", for example: from 2003 to 2004.
Watch the auctions for a while before bidding. Use the "Watch This Item" feature to track sales. Search "Completed Listings" to track final sale prices. This is good advice before you make a purchase at any car buying online site.
Get familiar with the eBay buyer tools. Check the feedback from other buyers regarding the seller. Read the auction description carefully and request more clarification or photos by e-mail if necessary.
Some "experts" recommend you stay away from sellers with no feedback or that you make sure the individual is rated as a seller, not a buyer...I say balony!
And here's why...
For example...what if I'm a buyer and a seller at the same time, that is to say, what if I'm in the market for a new car and instead of trading in my existing car, I want to sell it online and make some money instead of giving it away (well almost) to the new car dealership? This may be the first time I've attempted to sell a car online, therefore, I would have no seller feedback.
This is a good thing in my estimation; I'd rather buy from a private party individual with no feedback than a dealer with tons of feedback. You are typically going to pay thousands of dollars less buying a used car from a private part vs. a car dealership.
Call the seller with questions. If you can't develop a rapport with the seller over the phone, why would you buy his/her vehicle site unseen? It all starts with building trust...and if it doesn't feel right over the phone, then it just ain't right.
Look for low reserve or no reserve auctions. Reserve price can often be as high as the car's retail value. Low reserve should be some where between wholesale (or trade-in value) and private party price. Some recommend looking for "No Reserve" auctions to bid on, but I don't agree with this because if the highest bid is below fair market then the seller could potentially cancel the listing before the auction ends.
Does the seller allow you an out? Bid only on auctions where sellers allow you to cancel after you inspect the car. Don't buy a car until you've had it inspected first...especially sight-unseen.
Obtain a vehicle history report. A vehicle history report can provide useful information, such as who holds the title to the car and whether the car has been in an accident that was reported to authorities. You'll also find out whether the car was ever reported stolen, salvaged or damaged.
Get the car inspected by an ASE-certified auto mechanic, if you brought the vehicle at auction or via private party. Schedule a mobile vehicle inspection with a professional mechanic or an auto inspection service that will go to the car if it's not located in your area. This is a great benefit. An auto inspection can identify hidden problems and help you avoid a costly mistake.
Now, keep in mind that an auto inspection isn't a warranty and won't guarantee a car is free from defects or that the inspector has identified all existing problems. But do keep in mind that sometimes, though, an auto inspection will uncover problems not reflected in the vehicle history report that could cause you to walk away from the purchase.
So don't rely solely on the vehicle history report to make your purchase decision...get your purchase inspected too.
Contact a mobile vehicle inspection service like carchex.com and arrange for a mobile vehicle inspection at a nominal cost. There are many good ones out there so do your research and choose wisely. It's important to get the seller's OK to do this first, and then provide the auto inspection service with the seller's contact information.
Confirm seller's contact information. Before you send payment, verify the seller's proper name, full address, phone number(s), email address, etc. You may even want to do a quick background check. You may want to visit netdetective.com where you can do this online. Again, there are a lot of service providers in this field, so do your research.
OK...so everything should match up. Be wary if the seller is located overseas; my suggestion is if you aren't in the international auto business or into buying expensive, exotic foreign cars, then deal only with U.S. sellers. You should be able to find the vehicle you want state-side.
Pay for the vehicle. Use PayPal to send a deposit for eBay auctions. Use a reputable escrow service, like escrow.com to protect yourself against fraud when paying for a car you purchased at auction or through a private party. You can use traditional methods of payment if you purchase through an established, brick-and-mortar car dealership you verified to be legitimate. Check with the Better Business Bureau.
Get a detailed receipt. Ask the seller for a receipt that states whether the vehicle is being sold with a limited warranty or "as is." If it's as-is, then you may want to purchase a limited, 90-day warranty yourself for protection against the unseen.
Get title to the vehicle. Make sure you know what's required in your state to transfer title to the vehicle you're buying. You can use an online title transfer service, such as that provided by escrow.com, who can handle everything or you can do it yourself.
Factor in travel or delivery costs. Remember, you have to pick up the vehicle. If you're local, then it's not a problem. If it's in another state several hundred miles away, then you also have the option of having it shipped. Include gas, hotels, food, lost work time, and plane tickets, etc. in the cost, if you're picking it up long distance. Part of buying a car halfway across the U.S. is the adventure...and the savings! It's not worth the trip if you're not saving more money than it's costing you to obtain the vehicle...and then some.
Pick up your car. If you're going to fly, buy round-trip plane tickets. Round-trip airfare is often cheaper than a one-way ticket, and it gives you flexibility if you decide to back out on the purchase. If you don't plan on getting the vehicle yourself, arrange for transport via a reputable auto transport company.
Online car buying tips for sellers
Confirm all contact information. Be very wary of buyers willing to purchase your car sight-unseen, especially buyers located overseas. Always verify the buyer's complete contact information.
Secure payment first. Do not transfer the title until you have payment in hand or in escrow at the agreed upon price. Verify that a certified check is genuine. Before you deposit a certified check, verify authenticity with the issuing bank -- not just your bank. Make sure the account contains sufficient funds and the issuing bank guarantees payment on the check. It may take a week or more for the check to clear. It hasn't cleared just because your bank has accepted it and credited your account.
Beware of overpayment or other complicated payment schemes. Don't agree to any plan where the buyer asks to send a check for more than the sale price and requests that the seller refund the difference. And be suspicious of any buyer who proposes making payment through a friend, agent or any other third party the buyer wants to designate.
Never give out personal information via a website, email or over the phone unless your absolutely have to and you are sure it is safe to do so. If you are conducting a transaction using your credit card on a website make sure it is legitimate first. Don't arrive at the site through a link in an email; type the web address directly in the Address Bar yourself. Then make sure your transaction is secure via a secure server; look for a logo such as Verisign or check that there's a lock icon in the lower right corner of your screen.
Prepare your car for transport. Whether the buyer is picking up the vehicle themselves or having it picked up by an auto transporter/shipper, prepare the vehicle for its journey. The auto transport company will provide you with instructions on what to do.
By following the tips and techniques contained in this article, you should have a pleasant, safe and secure...as well as exciting...online car buying experience.
professional customer service experience, started SJM Automotive Services, LLC. Find out more about Steve's company here at
. Steve is also the proprietor of a complementary, content-rich web site called carbuyingtips-sage.com
where you can find a wealth of free tips, techniques and resources that are indispensable to anyone looking to buy a vehicle.