This week, I spoke with Frank Fuzy, owner of Century Motors, one of the nation's top eBay Motors sellers. I wanted to get his advice on how consumers should go about buying cars through eBay auctions.
The first thing you'll notice about eBay Motors is there aren't many used cars listed for sale. Right now, there are only 43,000 used cars listed nationwide - that's only 2% of the total used cars available on dealer lots. So why don't more dealers list on eBay? It's likely because listing on eBay requires dealers to be more transparent and provide a higher level of customer service in order to maintain good overall ratings.
One of the big advantages to buying from eBay Motors is the credibility of seeing the actual feedback from prior customers. Dealers won't last long if they don't keep their customers happy. Frank says another big advantage is that cars listed on eBay are currently on dealer lots. There are no wasted calls or drives to the dealership only to find out the vehicle is no longer available.
Most of the cars listed on eBay are priced to sell. You'll find the majority have a "Buy it Now" price which is already deeply discounted. In some cases, there may be 5 to 10% wiggle room on the price, but most dealers expect buyers to choose the "Buy it Now" button rather than go through a bidding process. Think of it like you're browsing a no-haggle marketplace - something many car buyers desire.
75% of Frank's customers are from out-of-state. They buy the car sight unseen and have it shipped to them. This means the prices are low enough that even with the extra shipping costs, they still end up with a better deal than if they had purchased locally. And that's really one of the main reasons to visit eBay Motors - to see if you can get a better deal from a far-away dealer (shipping included).
But it's important to follow a few rules. Frank suggests you only buy from top-rated sellers with a long history of positive feedback. Do not buy from private sellers - you don't know their history and there are too many things that can go wrong. Look to see how many years the dealer has been in business, and see if they're active in trade associations like the NIADA (National Independent Automobile Dealers Association) or state associations such as the FIADA (Florida Independent Automobile Dealers Association).
He also advices consumers to ask the seller questions and see how quickly they respond. A good tip is to ask a detailed question about one of the photos. For example "I see in photo 7 there's a shadow, is that a dirt stain?". A good dealer will answer your questions promptly.
My personal advice is to browse eBay Motors on a nationwide level after you've shopped around locally and have received price bids for similar cars. If you find a good "Buy it Now" deal, make sure you're buying from a reputable dealer. I always recommend getting the vehicle independently inspected before purchasing. Nothing beats a thorough inspection by a local mechanic, but if you're buying from out of state, you'll probably need to use a mobile inspection service such as InspectMyRide.com
Frank provides a 24-hour money back guarantee on all of his eBay sales and a 1-year extended warranty on certified vehicles. You can see all of his eBay listings here. I enjoyed speaking with him and appreciated his willingness to provide this helpful information.