04.20.17 - Online Cars for Sale

There are pitfalls to avoid when buying a car online using sites such as Craigslist and eBay, but you can be extremely successful in finding the car you want with the miles you’re looking for if you simply do some homework. Make sure you avoid wiring money to foreign countries (obviously) but otherwise these simple tips can help you purchase the car you want online and have a reliable and easy to enjoy transaction for the vehicle that you’ve been looking for.

Find the Car

Using an aggregator such as AutoTempest you can filter through the listings on Craigslist and have this filter return the search results you want. Make sure you think about where the car is located in the relationship to where you are before you contact the seller at all. You don’t need to drive 800 miles out of your way for a car that’s fairly common when you can find one that’s just as good if not better closer to home. If you’re looking for a rare car that’s extremely difficult to find, you might have to make the ride to a remote area to pick up the car you want to drive.

Another item to consider is whether or not the aggregator finds the car you want at a dealer location. If this happens you can check and see if the dealer has an online website. If they do you need to compare the two prices of the same vehicle and negotiate down from the lower of the two to make sure you can save as much money as possible.

Filter the Scams

This is where the Craigslist stories come in and you can get yourself in trouble. Start by looking for a location of the vehicle. If none is listed, email the seller and ask for the location, if they don’t disclose it to you, it’s a scam and you need to move on. Other ways you’ll know if you’re being scammed:

  • Price that’s too low
  • Photos that aren’t actually in the location listed
  • Strange pricing numbers
  • Awful grammar on the ad
  • Persona email pasted on the photo
  • A brand new listing with only minutes of activity

Avoid these items and you’ll be able to have the vehicle you want at the price that you negotiated fairly for both parties. Make sure you don’t send any money ahead of time when you’re making a deal online, you need to be able to verify the person is who they say they are when you want to buy a vehicle online.

Close the Deal

When you’ve found the vehicle you’re interested in buying you need to make sure you close the deal. One of the best ways to do this is to actually pick up the phone and have a conversation about the vehicle. This is a great time to work out the price and a phone call will show you’re more serious about buying the vehicle that if you simply spend a lot of time texting back and forth.

Another important aspect of the purchase is how you pay, where you pay and when you pay. You should use a public place where you can make contact together and others can see you. Police Departments have set up some safe zones in many areas where these online transactions can take place. You can finalize the sale at a bank where you turn over the title, pay the price agreed upon and have everything taken care of. Don’t end up in a sketchy neighborhood with thousands of dollars in your pocket for the sale and you should be OK.

Written by Blaine Traber

I enjoy Design and Architecture. This includes cars, I have always loved the design of a vehicle and it is what led me to work in the Automotive Industry at Honda. I'm also a freelance automotive journalist.

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