Money Expert > Car Insurance > Buying a Used Car on eBay

Buying a used car on eBay: Is it worth it?

Last updated: 16/02/2024 | Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Buying a new car is never easy. Whilst purchasing a new car online isn’t always recommended, using eBay Motors can be a lot more straightforward and safer than you might think. eBay Motors offers a huge variety of cars, and a helpful set of tools to aid you in finding the car that’s right for you. Our guide runs through the best ways to find the car you want, how to make sure it’s in working order, and ways you can stay safe on eBay Motors.

In This Guide:

Top Tips for Finding a Car on eBay

eBay Motors makes it very easy to search for the exact car you’re looking for. You can specify the make, model, colour and price, or look more generally at categories such as classic cars, SUVs, hybrids or minivans.

Here are a few tips for making sure the car you get is up to scratch:

  • Compare prices: If you find the car you want on eBay, rather than submitting a bid straight away you should take the time to check other marketplaces to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. See if the model you want is available at your nearest car dealership, or look on alternative used car websites such as Auto Trader.
  • Check user reviews: As well as doing research on the car itself, you should look at the seller’s eBay feedback score. This will give you an insight into whether the person selling the car is trustworthy, hopefully preventing you to falling victim to any scam.
  • Check out the car in person: In the age of digital shopping, people seem to forget that when you buy things, you are completely entitled to go and look first. This is particularly important with something as expensive and essential as a car. It’s as easy as calling up and arranging a viewing. If they don’t let you see the car, then there’s most likely something wrong with it. There are also issues concerning ‘phantom’ cars - listings that don’t even exist - so getting a look in person may save you thousands. If you’re not confident in your knowledge of cars, it might be worth asking a more experienced friend to come with you.
  • Take the car for a test drive: There’s only so much you can tell by looking at a car. Any internal problems might be revealed by taking the car out on the road. You must remember to check whether the owner’s car insurance covers you to take the car for a drive. Some cover this as standard but many don’t. You will need to take out your own car insurance if you aren’t covered on the owner’s policy. 
  • Get a vehicle check: There are lots of checks you can do online for free or for a small cost. These can reveal whether there is outstanding finance on the car, or whether it has previously been written off or stolen.

Is eBay a Safe Place to Purchase a Car?

eBay is overall a safe platform to use, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks associated with buying a car from there. Even with the seller’s best intention to advertise accurately, they may well have missed something that doesn’t become apparent until some time into your ownership of the car. There’s also the risk of running into scams, or rushing into sales without doing your research. eBay does have some safety features in place, however, which can help you to avoid making a bad decision, including:

User Feedback

User feedback can be a very helpful way of determining who it’s safe to buy from. You’ll want to make sure they have a 100%, or very nearly 100%, positive feedback rating. It’s worth noting that this can be accumulated from acting as a buyer and a seller. It’s much easier to get good feedback as a buyer – all you have to do is pay on time. So, look for their feedback as a seller to guide you more carefully. You’ll also want to make sure they’re established at selling cars, that they have more than a handful of ratings, and that they’ve been continuously active over recent years.

Secure Payments

eBay Motors makes sure that all your payments are completely secure and partners with PayPal to give you extra peace of mind. However, you do also have the option of paying by credit card or even cheque if you prefer. You should note that not all sellers will accept all payment types, but rest assured that all payments processed through the eBay platform are completely secure.

Can I Get My Money Back if Something Goes Wrong?

If you’ve ever used eBay before for buying and selling, you’re probably familiar with eBay’s Money Back Guarantee that protects buyers when they’ve purchased something that doesn’t live up to a seller’s description. Ordinarily, it’s easy to claim back your money if you’re not happy with something you’ve purchased, or never end up receiving it, but when buying cars this policy does not apply.

Motor vehicles are listed as an excluded item under eBay’s Money Back Guarantee Policy, which means that if you notice an issue with your car after you’ve paid for it, eBay won’t be able to help you reclaim your money.

So, what’s Vehicle Purchase Protection then? This is another type of policy offered by eBay that you may have come across online, but it’s important to note that this scheme does not exist in the UK. Therefore, any sellers saying that you will be protected by this when buying a car are likely hoping to trap you into a sale. For more information about spotting VPP scams, visit eBay’s safety centre.

Therefore, you need to be sure the car you’re buying on eBay is exactly what you’re expecting because you won’t be able to get your money back later. This means you need to see the car in person and test drive it wherever possible to avoid falling victim to scams.

Is it Worth Buying a Car on eBay?

Buying a used car from eBay is certainly an option, especially for those looking to cut costs. But is it really worth it when compared to the more traditional routes of purchasing a vehicle?

This depends on a number of factors, not least the type of car you’re after. For example, if you want an old classic car from the 1960s then you’ll likely find better deals and more choice on eBay than your local car dealership, but if you’re after the latest models then you might be somewhat restricted.

There’s also the matter of potential scams, which is always a risk when buying a car online. However, there are many genuine sellers on eBay, so if you spot a deal that would be perfect for your needs, it can be worth investigating and considering seriously.

To help you make the decision of where to buy your next car, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons of going down the eBay route:


  • You can find great deals on both auctions and Buy Now offers
  • Easier to find unique, customised, or classic cars
  • Easier to compare prices online than in dealerships


  • Buying process is more complicated and takes longer on eBay
  • Potential to be scammed or ripped off
  • Harder to arrange for a test drive before buying

Buying a Car on eBay: Is it Right for You?

Buying a car on eBay isn’t right for everyone, but in some circumstances, it could be the solution to some of the problems you’re facing in the search for your perfect vehicle. There are some great deals out there, and eBay is a very well-known platform, so you do have a chance to find something that works out well for your needs. However, always be on the lookout for scams or sellers that don’t have your best interests at heart. It’s best to be suspicious of every listing, even those with positive feedback, and to gather as many facts as possible yourself rather than taking a stranger’s word for it.


Am I protected if I pay by credit card on eBay?

Yes, eBay payments are secure when you use a credit card and your card details won’t be shared with sellers. If you are concerned about inputting your card details into eBay, you can also use a third-party payment provider such as PayPal for an extra layer of protection. However, if you’re buying a car, you will not qualify for protection from eBay’s Money Back Guarantee regardless of the payment method you use.

Can you get a good deal on a car on eBay?

You can definitely find good car deals on eBay, but it’s important to weigh up all your options before jumping in. Always make sure there isn’t a better deal going somewhere else before buying a car on eBay, and take caution when a deal seems too good to be true. It’s very unlikely that someone would be selling their car incredibly cheap, especially if it’s in good condition, so it’s important to use your common sense and fully investigate any deals that seem unusually good.

How can I insure a car I bought on eBay?

If you’re buying a car on eBay, you’ll need to purchase car insurance before you drive it home. While the seller’s insurance may cover a test drive, you’ll need to have your own plan once the car is officially yours. Fortunately, insuring a car you’ve bought on eBay is the same as insuring any second-hand car. Before comparing insurance policies, however, you should make sure the owner of the car has provided you with all the relevant documents you need to take out a policy.

Do you have to buy a car you win on eBay?

Bidding on a car auction on eBay is typically not binding, which means that, even if you win the auction, you’re not obligated to buy the car. This is because of how expensive cars are and the additional complexities that go into making a purchase. For example, a seller may not have appropriate documents to go along with the car, or may be uncompromising when it comes to collecting or test driving the vehicle. However, you don’t have to give a reason for backing out of a sale, but keep in mind how this could affect the seller. Try to only place bids you intend to go through with, even if you do end up changing your mind later.

Car Insurance,

easier than ever.