Why Buy Online? One of the best reasons for buying anything online is the expanded range of choices you have. A web site like eBay Motors can show you cars from across the nation and provide you with cross-selections that may lead you in a new direction when making buying decisions.
Perhaps you started out looking at Ford SUVs, but while searching through vehicle listings you came across a reference to a Chrysler Minivan that fit your needs better. This ability to analyze the available vehicles in a variety of ways is what makes shopping on the Internet such a powerful resource.
Online shopping also can provide you as a buyer a certain level of anonymity. Most sellers will list an email address as well as a phone number. By contacting the seller via email and asking a specific list of questions (we’ll cover this later) you can weed out potential vehicles without actually speaking to the seller. This means you can pose your questions at any time of day, and the seller can respond at their convenience. Email responses can also be saved, making remembering the responses to your questions that much easier.
In order to make buyers feel comfortable in purchasing vehicles online, big auction sites like eBay Motors offer a “Buyer Protection” service. eBay’s coverage provides insurance on any car purchase up to $20,000. If the seller misrepresented the vehicle, or doesn’t provide a vehicle at all, eBay Motors will cover your losses. This is a great selling point to using eBay’s services; it also highlights some of the risks associated with online car shopping.
Risk Management Purchasing any car is all about risk management. You want to minimize the chances of ending with a lemon; or worse, being outright scammed by the seller. The best way to reduce your risk is to understand the factors that go into determining it.
- Is the seller a reliable source of information?
- Is the car represented correctly?
- What is the long-term maintenance cost related to the car?
- Does the car come with any service history?
- Do I understand all the related costs associated with purchasing the car?
Verifying that the seller is a reliable source of information can be difficult. Use your instincts and ask as many detailed questions as possible to “feel” the seller out. Also review the responses carefully. If a person isn’t being honest in their answers to your questions they’ll usually have trouble keeping their information consistent. Be concerned with any discrepancies in the facts that the seller states during the transaction. Of course use your discretion. People make honest mistakes. Follow up and get clarification to any additional questions you may have.
Going hand-in-hand with the honesty of the seller is the knowledge that the car is being represented correctly. Not every seller fully understands what they’re selling. This especially is the case with rare or exotic cars. Options that are on the vehicle when it’s being sold may or may not be original factory options. If this is important to you it’s best to do the research on the car yourself. Ask for the VIN number and use a reliable source like CARFAX to do your checking.
On more vintage cars you may be forced to go to professional appraisal services, or contact the specific Owner’s Club or Registry for you car. These can be found by searching online; http://www.gearheads.com will list several places to start.
Maintenance costs for used cars are a huge unknown unless you have the past maintenance history. A log book or service book being offered with a car is a huge boon to determining risks. This is very important with rare and exotic cars. DeTomaso Panteras, for example, can have expensive repair bills down the road if they’re not maintained properly.
There are plenty of costs associated with any purchase above and beyond the asking price. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you make any bid. “Read Twice, Bid Once.”