eBay car auctions
I was looking at cars for auction on eBay and have seen some starting at $500 or $1,000 and not junkers either, but cars that are only a few years old. However, since it is online, it's impossible to tell what one is actually getting.
Does anyone here have experience with getting cars from eBay auctions? Is it a risk worth taking?
My friends ask me this all the time. My advice to them, would you buy a car solely based on pictures and a description? I don't know about you, but when I buy a car, especially a used one, I want to check it out in person. I want to see how it drives, any problems with the engine, electronics (if applicable), etc. Anyone can make a car look and sound good through pics and a brief description, but all that doesn't matter if you can't even start the engine yourself, in my opinion.
I'm not exactly sure how ebay works in handling cars, but whenever looking for a used car I go to craigslist. I ask for a brief history of the car (any major damage, repairs, any service records, etc.), ask if a test drive is ok, and ask if I can bring it to a professional mechanic of MY choice for a check-up. This also gives me a chance to meet the owner and see if they actually cared for the car by giving it standard on-time maintenance, and believe me I've seen some pretty bad stuff when finding a used vehicle.
My one experience with ebay motors was around ten years ago when I bought a pickup truck. The guy was around 200 miles from me, same state. I had a lot of communication with him, first through ebay and then on the telephone after I requested that. The seller was an engineer and had all of his maintenance records, gave me the name and telephone number for the service shop, etc. I was the high bidder. I had a good feeling about it, so took the ride there with a bank issued cashier's check and all worked out great. I wasn't spending a lot of money (little over $5000 at the time) so I wasn't to worried about it like I would be now with higher prices. The guy did let me drive it before we did the title work, in case I wanted to back out. All in all, it is a buyer beware situation.
Thanks for the advice. I think I'll go to a dealership so I can test drive.