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Buying Cars Online: To Ebay or not to Ebay?

Buying a used car online is becoming increasingly commonplace, but there are still many of us out there who are a bit dubious as to the merits of buying through auction sites such as Ebay. Buying a book, a mobile phone or clothing online is one thing, but with a high-involvement purchase such as a car, will Ebay Motors be able to satisfy consumers that their investment is safe?

Ebay Motors is now the UK’s largest online automotive marketplace, with thousands of used vehicles bought and sold every day. The risks are just the same as they would be when buying from a private seller who has advertised on a site such as Auto Trader. The big difference with Ebay however, is that once you’ve submitted that bid you are legally obliged to pay.

A big benefit of using an auction site like Ebay Motors is that you can get some idea of the seller’s reputation. Unlike a normal private sale, you are able to read feedback on what the seller is like, how trustworthy they are and how efficient they are – something that you would normally have to judge for yourself when buying a used car from a stranger.

The key thing to remember is that if somebody is out to rip you off, they will rip you off no matter what forum they use. And in fact, you can take some comfort from the fact that Ebay itself takes a very dim view of rogue traders and has security measures in place to protect buyers.

If you are thinking about buying a used car online, there are several things that you need to keep in mind – all private sales are ‘sold as seen’ whether sold in person or in cyberspace. This means that the onus is on you to ensure that you’ve looked it over. Photographs can help, but at the end of the day the only sure fire way to get the full picture is to inspect the car personally – if that’s not possible, you can hire a RAC inspector to check it over for you.

Ebay’s ‘Ask the Seller’ feature enables you to ask any and every question you can think of. And if you can’t get hold of the seller before the auction ends, then it’s within your right to withdraw any bid you have made.

The seller should have all of the legal documents related to the vehicle, including the log book (V5 document) and MOT certificates – if not, be wary, as this could indicate some sort of fraud. Getting a full HPI check is also recommended to check that there is no outstanding finance on the car, that it hasn’t been reported lost/stolen or written off by an insurance company.

Do your homework just as you would if buying a used car from a trade forecourt or private seller – what price should you be paying? What insurance group does the car fall under? What’s the fuel economy like?

Buying a used car online can be an extremely efficient, straightforward way to get on the road and Ebay Motors, as one of the most reputable marketplaces online, can be a godsend to those who haven’t got much time to look around. But there really is no substitute for face to face inspections so before you place that bid, make sure that you’ve taken the car out for a spin – you’re then free to enjoy the bidding war that ensues in your quest to buy what you’re certain is a bargain motor!

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