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Tips for buying a car over the Internet
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EverettB Premium Member

Joined: April 11, 2000
Posts: 59944
Location: Phoenix, AZ
EverettB is offline 

PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:10 pm    Post subject: Tips for buying a car over the Internet Reply with quote

There is no formal process for buying a car over the Internet but there are some steps you can take to feel safer.
Here are some processes I have followed when buying or selling cars in the past.

Basic process I have used with success:
1. Negotiate the deal
2. Send Payment - Buyer sends payment, normally by cashier's check or via wire transfer. Personal check acceptance is up to the seller. I do not accept personal checks unless I know the buyer.
3. Send Paperwork - Upon receipt of payment, sellers sends title, notarized if required in your state, and signed bill of sale to buyer.
3a. Optional - Buyer sends back signed bill of sale to seller for seller to have a copy.
4. Transport - Buyer arranges transport.
5. Pickup - Seller assists with vehicle pickup by transport company.
6. Delivery - Vehicle delivered.

1. Read Tips for Internet Buying and Selling - there is a lot of good information there on how to feel safe or make sure you have the most information possible, especially if you are buying something without seeing it in person, i.e. "site unseen".
2. I highly recommend when buying a vehicle that you view the car in person whenever possible. It is often worth the price of a plane ticket or time away from work. The higher the sales price, the greater I feel this is a necessity.
3. There is a level of trust involved at Step 2 - Send Payment. If you do not feel safe sending payment or with anything regarding the transaction, don't be afraid to walk away. There is always another car out there.
4. With any car, there will be some surprises. Be prepared for this eventuality. Minimize what it is by asking as many questions as you need to or getting whatever photos you need to feel confident about the transaction. You want it to be something simple like the interior light doesn't work, not something expensive like the floor pans are rusted out.

International payments:
I use a wire transfer to send or receive international payments.
I feel this is the best and safest method, barring an in-person transaction.
For incoming payments, people often set up and use a temporary bank account to receive the incoming payment, for an extra level of security.
Longer thread with tips from members:

Guarantees or protection:
This web site provides no protection or guarantees for any vehicles advertised here but we do the best to remove suspect or ads found to be scams as quickly as possible. Scam ads are uncommon as we are very vigilant but be wary of any vehicle that seems to be priced thousands less than it should be, especially if the price is $2700, $2800, or $2900, these seem to be common scam ad prices.
See the Internet Fraud thread for more details

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Last edited by EverettB on Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:03 am; edited 4 times in total
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Samba Member

Joined: April 11, 2006
Posts: 5636
Location: Portland OR
PDXWesty is offline 

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Internet escrow companies now provide transaction services that protect both the buyer and seller. It's a great way to complete an internet vehicle sale.

89 Westy 2.1 Auto
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Samba Member

Joined: April 08, 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Rockport, MA
mdsarge is offline 

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:31 pm    Post subject: Buying from EBAY Reply with quote

I have known many people who have good luck on ebay buying AS REPRESENTED quality vehicles and duly noted were problems exist. These are the ebay sellers that uphold a high standard and are reputable sellers. Unfortunately my one experience in buying a vehicle can only be described as buyer beware...I offer these comments to help give the membership a Heads up! on the downfalls of buying a vehicle not as represented.

Here are my details:
My vehicle was listed with many pictures, all looked good or at least free from big surprises. The pricing was consistent with market prices on similar eBay purchases. The vehicle was located in California and I was in Massachusetts. My bid was accepted and communication started with the seller contacting me to congratulate me. I informed him of my plans to travel west and drive the vehicle back east. I asked in every way possible was the car mechanically sound and was there anything I needed to be aware of. I heard nothing but reassurances on its soundness, requiring nothing but an oil change...I wish!

I flew out to California and met the seller the next morning at a tire place because he mentioned that there was a slow leak in one tire. As a matter of fact all four tires were close to bare and suffered from bad rot. there were windscreen holes around seems, broken door latch, no radio, and additional rust not mentioned/or covered up with poor attempt. I am really abbreviating this for you but after a not so nice good by we started our Journey East which was plaqued with fuel problems from the onset, new tune up and the list goes on to a total breakdown 1,000 miles from home.

I asked all the right questions, received paperwork after payment was made. What you can't count on is the level of dishonesty of the seller. Very simply I was played. The vehicle isn't necessarily bad it just wasn't worth the price with its misrepresented condition. There is a good dose of faith in any transaction and its a big pill to swallow when you are let down. Had I known more about the buyer upfront after having met him I wouldn't have bought a dog biscuit from him but boy did he sound good on the phone..... This is the first time I have ever bought a vehicle sight unseen....and all I can say is DON'T DO IT.. unless you have a contact that can check it out. I tried to get a mechanic to check it out but was averted very skillfully, with comments like these are a unique vehicle and to be honest where I am I can't recommend anyone I would take it to, especially within driving distance... blah, blah, blah... Unfortunately eBay only keeps records of purchases within 60 days and there was a period of time that he stored it for me until I could get out there to pick it up..otherwise I would left a "BUYER BEWARE" recommendation on his profile....

Good Luck and hope this helps...
Westy '82
Grand Wagoneer'86
Hobie Revolution - Orange
Big Green Egg '08
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Samba Member

Joined: May 04, 2012
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Location: morristown,tn
hotrodvol is offline 

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First time poster, I just want to say that if you can't pay someone to go check the car out for you or you can't see it in person don't buy it. I have bought three cars from the internet two I would not have bought if I had seen in person, the third has been a great car for my daughter. I almost bought another but it was 250 miles away, so I went to go buy it in person towing a trailer, the car looked great but was a piece of crap under the skin. So of course I didn't buy that one.

A friend of mine has bought four '66 chevelles and only one was a good car of the four. So now that I think of it it sounds like a 25% success rate. LOL just beware, and oh yeah I'm really catching the bug craze and I am hunting for one now.
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Samba Member

Joined: December 15, 2006
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Location: Livonia, NY
JPrato is offline 

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought a Westy from someone on the Samba. Before the sale was completed I used this company that I found from ebay http://pages.ebay.com/motors/services/inspection/inspection.html to order an inspection.

It was an independent set of eyes that took pictures and highlighted what they saw as issues. In my case is was cracked tires, slight body damage and other imperfections. The corresponded pretty good with how it was described by the seller. They also set a picture of the VIN tag. While not as good as being there yourself, it was another piece of information to compare with how the vehicle was presented and what the buyer was telling you.

I also used carfax which did show that this vehicle had been in the same area all its life and only registered once, backing up the seller was the original owner.

06 Subaru Legacy turbo (how am I gonna fit this sucker into the Westy....)
87 Syncro Tin Top project
84 Westy, 2.5L Subaru power
46 Cessna 140
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steve n Premium Member
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Joined: August 17, 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Petaluma, California
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:43 pm    Post subject: What not to do when buying over the internet Reply with quote

1) Do not trust the pictures. Lighting, angles will hod the problems
2) Do not believe word for word what the seller is telling you. They want to unload the vehicle to a sucker. Not all sellers work that way. I usually find the ones that do.
3) Spend the money to take a trip to where the car is located and kick the tires personally. It is a lot better than explaining why my bank account is 15,000 lighter and I have a new POS in my driveway leaking oil and can't drive because it's not "The museum piece" the seller told you.
4) "GET IT IN WRITING", no matter what you think of Judge Judy, she is right, GET IT IN WRITING what, when, where, how much, return policy etc.
I hope this helps someone.
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