How to Buy a Car on eBay - dummies

By Marsha Collier

Buying a car — that’s one purchase many people don’t enjoy making. Thankfully, you can browse eBay Motors without that pesky salesman asking you personal questions and checking in with his finance manager every time you want to pay below the sticker price.

eBay Motors is the largest auto mall in the universe and is consistently ranked the number-one automotive site on the web by Nielsen/NetRatings.


The truly amazing part about eBay Motors is that it has more than just the usual cars and vans. In fact, the rule seems to be that if it has an engine, you’ll find it here. Here’s a description of the Other Vehicles categories:

  • ATVs: Within the ATV subcategory of Powersports, you’ll find a wide selection of new and used 4x4s and 2x4s, three-wheelers and four-wheelers.

  • Aircraft: Anything that flies can be found here, from hot-air balloons to military trainer jets. Browsing this category is amazing (found under “other vehicles”). Who could imagine that with a click of your mouse (and enough money) you could own your own Bell helicopter or Gulfstream jet?

  • Boats: This category has its own subcategories of Fishing Boats, Personal Watercraft (Sea-Doo, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and so on), Powerboats, Sailboats, and Other (kayaks, canoes, pontoons, tenders, and dinghies). It was also nice to see a wide selection of prices for sailboats. With some time spent shopping in this category, you can find just about anything you want within your price range.

  • Buses: No kidding. You want to start your own bus line? Here’s the place to find the buses — and it seems that plenty of people are interested in them! There’s active bidding on old school buses in this category.

  • Commercial trucks: The items are good quality and of the type you’d find at commercial truck auctions. The prices are also bargains.

  • Scooters and minibikes: Aside from what you’d expect to find here, this is the home for beautiful vintage and new Vespa motor scooters.

  • Snowmobiles: You’ll see everything from top-of-the-line new ones to gently used private sales.

  • Other: How about a 1947 Coca-Cola vending truck — complete with fountain, cotton-candy machine, and propane-powered hot-dog cooker! Sounds like a carnival on wheels! Well, okay, it doesn’t run, but hey — it’s only $3000! There’s also a Shelby Cobra kit, with no motor or tranny, but you need a hobby, don’t you? There’s nothing you can’t find on eBay!

Many of the cars on eBay Motors are private-party sales, bank cars (repossessions), and cars that have been cherry-picked by wholesalers and dealer overstocks. In addition, professional car dealers sell rare, hard-to-find cars to a marketplace that draws between 4 and 5 million visitors per month.

You can’t get that many people through the door at a local dealership! Dealers put up the rare colors and limited-edition vehicles because this is an auction site — the rarer an item, the more likely bidders are to get excited. The more excited bidders are, the more they lose their heads — and the higher the price goes.

With an average of seven to eight bids per sale, eBay Motors is a competitive environment for the most desirable cars. Dealers can sell cars for less on eBay because it costs them less to sell. (They don’t have to pay the finance manager to twist your arm to buy the extras.)

Click here for the eBay Motors site or click the Motors link on the left of the home page.