The How to Buy A Car On eBay Guide

buy a car on eBay

From rare 50p pieces through to imitation Rod Stewart tartan trousers, you can buy almost anything on eBay. And unsurprisingly more people are turning to this popular e-Commerce platform to find a good motoring bargain.

Believe it or not eBay is actually growing in popularity as a second-hand car sales outlet and it’s also the place to go for rare motors and the so-called barn finds. With over 20 years of history, it’s a real veteran of the internet, giving it a high level of trust with all its buyers.

Like all sales outlets there are deals to be had and pitfalls to avoid – which are a whole lot easier to navigate with the aid of our handy guide.

Table of contents:

Get a Taste for The Deal

If you haven’t bought on eBay before you’ll want to set up a profile and make a few purchases before you buy a car. Firstly, most car sellers will want a reasonable amount of activity on your profile and won’t want to be the first sale. Secondly, it’s great to get acquainted with the platform, with both Buy It Now sales and the more traditional auctions.

Buying Basics

Decide how much you’re willing to spend at the outset. Remember to factor in insurance and tax and start to think about what you want to buy. Some of our car guides can give you an appreciation of common faults in different cars, helping inform your buying decision.

Be sure to search in your region as picking up a car from even somewhere that’s only 50-60 miles away could be a problem. Read the listing in full before making a purchase or clicking a button. Some of the faults or issues may only be apparent in the small print. If important details are lacking, take the time to message the seller and get confirmation of any point.

More for Your Money

Do your homework on sites like Auto Trader and Parkers to get a feel for the prices of similar models, with the same kind of miles on the clock and model specification. This means ensure you pay attention to the little details like mileage, engine size and condition. Beware extremely cheap deals, where the car is on offer for significantly less than comparable vehicles on eBay. This could potentially be a dud vehicle with extensive problems that the seller is trying to pass off as a good buy.

Hello, You Must Be Mr Daley?

Like your seller will want to see some activity on your account, you must check the activity across their selling history. Read their feedback and gauge their reputation. Many buyers will only purchase off sellers with at least a 99.00% feedback rating. You can also home into the negative reviews and see if there was any resolution offered. Any worries should be taken up in direct communication with the seller.

If the seller cannot be reached, doesn’t reply to eBay messages and won’t answer the phone, go elsewhere. Good communication is a sign you’re dealing with a reputable and serious individual, whilst if you can’t get answers before you buy, imagine what might happen if there are problems with your car after the purchase.

Check You Out

Take a trip and do a quick inspection in person before you bid on any car. Auction listings usually last for 7 days or even longer, giving you plenty of time to go and visit. As we always say, if something doesn’t look, feel or sound right then get out of there straight away. There are scams where cars do not actually exist, and you may end up purchasing a phantom vehicle.

buying a car

Test the Best

Go through the usual driving checks and ensure the car makes it through all the usual checks. Want more information? We have the pre-purchasing checks you need in this easy to use guide. Does the vehicle idle comfortably, brake in a straight line, pass the shocks bounce test?

Before you go out in the car make sure that you are insured. Double check before you get behind the wheel because being wrong isn’t worth it. Not everyone is covered for test driving.

Disappear into the Background

Like the look of a car? Do the background checks. Again, we’re here to help with our handy article on HPI checks. But don’t stop there. Take a look at the logbook, ensure that the chassis and engine number matches the documentation and ask to see the MOT documents. A good seller will be more than happy to provide the info as they will take it as a sign you want to buy. A bad seller will put problems in your way or offer excuses.

Bid Early, Bid Often

Whatever you do, never follow eBay’s advice of bidding early and bidding often. Set a price that you want to pay and are happy to go for and wait until the last seconds of the last minute to put in your bid. This is called sniper bidding and stops you from getting into a price war where you end up pushing that number up to a level where you don’t want to pay. Avoid getting involved with auctions that finish on a Thursday or Sunday as these tend to be the busy, busy days.

Get a PayPal account and pay with this online payment processor if you win. There are so many advantages to doing this it’s untrue. This is now a world recognised brand and offers a very secure transactional system. The main benefit is that your payment details are hidden from the buyer. However, be aware that you do not get the buyer protection and insurance when buying a car, which is offered with other purchases, due to the nature of this market.

On the Home Straight

Is the car roadworthy? Is it taxed? Is there a full MOT or you might have to put it on a trailer or get it towed home? If you don’t have insurance you will have to get a temporary cover package to get the vehicle home or even sort it out first then go and collect the car. You have options and you can use our guide for shopping for insurance online.


Everything you could possibly want in the world will appear on eBay at one time or another. It’s simply a case of waiting until the car of your dreams appears online and then doing your homework. Whether you have your heart set on going back to the future in a DeLorean or simply want to purchase an old Rolls Royce to rag to death, this is the place to find it.

This entry was posted in Buying & Selling on by Justin Smith.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them. Follow Justin on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: These articles are for guidance purposes only. If you have any questions regarding any matter relating to your vehicle we would recommend that you seek the advice of an appropriate professional. We accept no responsibility or liability should you suffer financial or personal damages in relation to the advice stated on this website.