Is Buying a Car on eBay Safe?

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated: March 8, 2023 / Published: April 18, 2021

ebay car

Shopping for a car online comes with many advantages. You have an almost infinite range of vehicles, meaning more possibility for finding the car of your dreams, which let’s face it is less likely to be available locally. However, many people worry about the safety of buying a car on sites such as eBay. But with the right knowledge, you can avoid many risks, and eBay has lots of built-in tools to help you have a safe purchasing experience. 

Still, it’s crucial to learn about the basics of eBay shopping and what to look out for in buying a car online. This article will guide you through the process to give you the safety you need in finding the vehicle of your dreams!

Basics of eBay Motors

eBay has a sub marketplace called eBay motors, where you can find vehicles of all kinds as well as spare parts. Like the rest of eBay, eBay motors marketplace is structured in an effortless and intuitively approachable way. Car sellers make a post on the platform with all the details about the car for sale – this should include its current condition, how many miles it has, pictures of the vehicle, and much more. 

More than 4.1 million passenger vehicles have been sold on eBay Motors, and more than 14.2 million unique visitors come to the site each month. The chances are high that you’ll find the type of car you’re searching for. The marketplace includes a search function, set keywords, and a filter function to choose a model, year, distance, price, and many other categories. eBay Motors has three ways of purchasing a vehicle. The fixed price function is where the seller has set their price, and you agree to this or not. More commonly, sellers will either use “Best Offer, where buyers suggest a sale price. Or the bidding option, where buyers bid against each other until the sale closes. 

What Customer Protection Does eBay Offer?

Purchasing a used car always comes with some risks you have no control over. It is essential to try to rule out some central risk factors that you can control.

There are several online marketplaces and selling groups out there where you can buy a used car. The disadvantage of platforms like Craigslist or similar is that they don’t give you adequate buyer protection. eBay, on the other hand, has some attributes, which make your buying experience safer. The platform offers extensive Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP). eBay guarantees:

“VPP provides protection at no additional cost for certain losses associated with fraud, such as non-delivery of the vehicle, undisclosed title defects, and certain undisclosed vehicle defects. Together with eBay, an independent service provider will determine whether you have suffered a loss that is reimbursable by the VPP program and the reimbursement amount.”

On top of this, eBay offers a customer review system, where you can check if other buyers had good or bad experiences with a seller. Additionally, eBay offers payment protection methods, which can help you get a refund if the seller doesn’t go through with the deal. 

How to Buy a Car on eBay Safely?

Before you start your search, you must know what you want and do your research. It would help if you thought about your needs and preferences, the price range available for you, inform yourself about specific cars’ insurance possibilities, and find out about your states’ safety and emission requirements.

Think about post-purchase shipping

Another preparation step is to look at shipping possibilities because it will determine the areas you extend your search to. If you want flexibility, you might consider working with a marketplace-based provider like CitizenShipper, which works with a network of drivers all over the country specializing in vehicle transportation. You can post the shipping details on the platform, and qualified and experienced drivers bid on your job. You can review the quotes and pick a driver that can ship your vehicle for you after purchase. Even if you haven’t got the car secured yet – you can get in touch with drivers and figure out some options for when the sale goes through. 

Make an account

You can create an eBay account with a few simple steps and start browsing eBay Motors’ inventory based on your individual preferences. 

How to Find a Legitimate Seller?

This point is the most important! If you found your dream car, you should make sure that the seller is trustworthy.  A good indicator is the review system of eBay. eBay calculates an overall feedback percentage on every user. This calculation is based on a range of reviews that each user gets as sellers and buyers got in their account history. A seller with a feedback percentage of close to 100% is a safe way to go. 

Next, you should look at the feedback a user got as a seller. It would be best if you read what people wrote about the seller. It’s also an excellent opportunity to get an overview of their selling experience because you’ll also be able to see what a user has sold in the past connected to the feedback. If several customers report good experiences back with buying a car with this shop, it’s a good indicator for a legitimate seller. 

Ensure Secure Payment

As previously mentioned, eBay Motors offers Vehicle Purchase Protection. To get this protection as a buyer, you must pay for your car through the eBay transaction services, which is PayPal and eBay’s financing center. Usually, a seller will require a deposit when you’re winning an auction, and within a specific amount of time, you have to pay the remaining money. If the car is close to you, you can use this time to see your vehicle in person. 


If you’re well prepared, eBay can be a fantastic tool to purchase a new car!