Tips for buying a car on eBay safely and without hassle

Buying a car in eBay can be a great experience that saves you time and money of if could cost you the earth and leave you with a car you can't use and can't sell on. If you're thinking of using the online auction site for your next car purchase, we've got some tips for buying a car on eBay that will keep you safe from fraudulent sellers.

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Car checks

When you find a car you like the look of on eBay don't be ashamed to ask the seller all the questions you have. A legitimate seller will be fine answering your questions because it comes with the territory. Be prepared to work on this purchase by researching the car you're buying. There are lots of great sites for every car brand out there and any enthusiastic owner will be happy to impart knowledge on a message board, so you shouldn't go into the sale blind.

Things to spot

There are lots of trouble signs to look for when you buy a second-hand car and it pays to know them off by heart. Things like misplaced trim, swapped parts and accessories, as well as any inaccuracies in the description have to be investigated before you part with thousands of pounds.


Open the car’s bonnet and look for white residue under the oil filler cap and then check for any oil leaks, but be careful not to take spilt oil as signs of a leak. Get the car started and listen for exhaust blows and then check for any blue smoke out of the back.


Once you’ve inspected the car, take a look at the paperwork. Check all of the documents carefully and cross reference the serial number and the VIN number to make sure the paperwork relates to the car you’ve inspected. If there’s no V5 document, walk away. That should also be the case if the latest MOT document isn’t presented to you. Check the service history too as you could end up with a big bill if the last owner lies to you about something massively important like a cambelt change that never happened.

Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to walk away from the car, even if you’ve won it through eBay’s auction system. You may get an unpaid item dispute filed against you, but you can accrue 3 non-paying bidder strikes before your account is suspended.

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