Narrow the search: Choose a make and model, then hit eBay. It’s easier to make frequent checks on the auction market by using an exact model in the eBay search field.
Be on the lookout: Watch the auctions for a while before bidding. Use the “watch this item” feature to track sales and search “completed items” to track final sale prices.
Use the eBay buyer tools: Be sure to check the feedback from other buyers regarding the seller. Make sure the individual is rated as a seller, not just as a buyer. Read the auction description carefully and request more photos or ask additional questions by e-mail if necessary.
Call the seller: It can be reassuring to develop a rapport with the seller. It also gives you a chance to obtain any clarification on the vehicle. And who knows, the terms of the sale might be even more flexible than stated online.
Look for no-reserve auctions: Find the seller who doesn’t set a minimum winning bid amount, which often is as high as the car’s retail value.
Make sure you have an out: Look for auctions where the seller allows you to cancel after you inspect the car.
Have the car inspected by a mechanic: Contact a mechanic in the city where the car is being sold and arrange for an inspection when you arrive. eBay also offers inspection services in 50 major metro markets, as well as a free limited warranty for the drive home for many cars.
Use Carfax: The company’s online vehicle history report can tell you where the car has been, its accurate mileage and whether it has been damaged in a crash or flood. This is crucial to review before purchasing any vehicle.
Use an online pricing services: Free services like the True Market Value system at Edmunds.com give a quick, realistic idea on retail and wholesale values of used cars. This will help you determine whether or not you’ve found a deal.
Bid and walk away: Decide on a fair price for a car, then bid and walk away. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war with someone else and end up paying too much for it.
Factor in travel or delivery costs: Remember you have to pick up the vehicle or have it shipped when you win the auction. Be sure to include gas, lodging, food, lost work time, plane tickets, etc in the cost.
Plan your trip home: Of course you’ll plan on driving your new vehicle home, but in the instance that you decide to back out of the purchase, make sure you have accommodations to get back home without it, if necessary.