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Subarus auctioned on E-Bay

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8 replies to this topic

#1 Rooster2


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:57 AM

Occasionally, I will take a curious look at cars up for auction on e-bay. To see if anywhing on this forum had been written on this subject, I did a "search" to read where a guy won the bid on a car.


I am curious to hear what others think about buying a car on e-bay........maybe there are some deals to be had, but I am thinking also some heart breaks. Anyone willing to share their experience?? I see that some cars (for a subscription fee) history can be learn through "Auto Check Vehicle History Report." I am guessing that is a competitor to Carfax Reports. Still, I would have concerns about bad car titles, stolen vehicles, flood vehicles, rebuilt cars, without a rebuilt title. Any thoughts??

#2 AdventureSubaru


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:26 AM

I put Ebay in the same category as craigslist, used car dealers and stickers in windows. It's "buyer beware." Which doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. I have both bought and sold cars through Ebay with few surprises. The vehicle history report is the same as carfax. It can retrieve random history of the car, accidents etc. I have never been a fan. If a car was properly fixed, an accident is no reflection of it's value or reliability. Depending on where a car may be repaired, many/most damage history will not be recorded by carfax or anyone.


A title brand such as salvage, rebuilt etc. is printed on the physical title, so such reports just tell you what you already know.


Ebay is nice in that sellers can establish feedback reputations that can be reassuring, but nothing makes up for old fashioned research. Before you take the car, look it over and be sure that the seller was honest in the description. Check for signs of head gasket failure etc. if things were covered up/omitted by the seller, you can walk away. All the better if you can inspect the car before you bid. But the seller is responsible for providing an accurate description. As a seller, I ask that a buyer do his research ahead of time and be realistic about what you are buying. A $600 car that is listed as a "good commuter" is going to have some blemishes and places that will need attention in the near future.


Also - read the entire listing. EVERY WORD. Especially from dealers. I bought a Honda Prelude from a dealer in NJ off ebay years ago for $750. They tried to charge me $425. for "Car detailing and documentary fees" I told him he was nuts. The car was listed as "parts or project"  and I asked why you would detail a car like that. I was a car dealer for a couple years and i knew there were 3 pieces of paper following the transaction. I ended up speaking with management and the fees were dropped. I think I got the salesman in trouble. That was a random incident, but I have seen a number of dealer state in their listings that there is a $100 or $150 documentation fee added to the price of the vehicle. Make sure you read everything so this comes as no surprise.


I no longer sell cars on ebay because the fees are relatively high and most cars I own/sell are not worth that much, so I choose to save the money. However, if I had a low miles BRAT in good shape, that's where I would go because Ebay has huge exposure for collectors.


So yeah, Ebay isn't any more or less secure than anything else. Just do your research and it's like any used car market.

#3 grossgary


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:17 PM

i've bought a few Subarus on ebay.  it's a terrible place to sell (unless it's a novelty item like a brat), a good place to buy.


some that i've bought were with known issues.  great vehicles, low prices, and the issues were clearly represented.


others were ready to tag and drive and served me well.  one i flew 800 miles and drove it back. 


i prefer to talk to people before i buy, not just to learn the car but to learn the seller....how good are you at talking to and sizing people up?  generally doesn't take long to discern the doctor that wants the car out of their hair or a used car lot with an honest salesmen from some hard to talk to, doesn't want to spend the time talking, has a funny story with lots of unverifiable and mixed info, gotta turn a buck, shady guy.  you're dealing with less than ideal communication lines and long distances - if there's any red flag or hint of uneasiness - move on, there's plenty of vehicles out there.


so far i've had 100% success buying from ebay as have my relatives. 


i got a less than stellar deal from a board member...short on info, not quick to answer questions or provide any history. i wouldn't have bought the car if i didn't know him on the board so i gave him the benefit of the doubt since we were working across thousands of miles...turned out lots of missing info on that car, unanswered questions turned into actual non-working stuff, and i probably should have stuck with my gut instincts.  but a friend has been driving and putting that car to good use for a few years so all is well, i just burned a lot of time in that and use it as an example of looking for red flags and moving on no matter what.


as with anything - with a little time and subaru specific/purchasing familiarity you can get a good deal without it being all that risky.  most used cars of any age on a local lot are being flipped from auction...hardly to be considered free of risk. 

Edited by grossgary, 24 September 2013 - 12:17 PM.

#4 matt167


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:20 PM

I sold a truck on Ebay years ago. Got what I would have if I sold it local.. The Autocheck used to be free, but they now charge for it. You used to be able to put in a Vin number, preview an otherwise blank listing and get the autocheck report for free... I look for cheap boats on Ebay, but not cars

Edited by matt167, 24 September 2013 - 12:20 PM.

#5 Rooster2


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 01:02 PM

Thanks guys, I appreciate hearing the ebay experiences. I have bought and sold cars on Craig's list, and have done well. I have only bought "local" cars, so I could "see" what I was buying, and take to a mechanic for mechanical appraisal. With customary long distance buying on e-bay, I feel uneasy about buying a Pig In A Poke. Just my 2 cents worth.

#6 AdventureSubaru


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 02:02 PM

Pig in a Poke isn't a huge problem. You're not stuck with the car until you hand over the money. Ebay buyer protection is such that you can walk away from a sale and get no negative feedback. Sellers are no longer allowed to leave anything but positive feedback. (Which, does make it easy to be abused as a seller.) if the seller pursues it, you can accrue an unpaid item strike - which means nothing unless it happens multiple times on your same account. You are under no obligation if the seller did not describe the car accurately. Just sometimes out the time it takes to go to the car.


Did that when I was out east on a car I bought on ebay. Sent a down payment. Drove 3 hours to pick up a car and they had a title that was already signed by a previous buyer. No way around that in that state and I wasn't going to take their word on mailing me a new title. I filed an "item not as described" case through ebay and got my deposit back. I was out gas money and 6 hours driving time, but it happens sometimes. As I recall, I did get an amazing Philly Cheese-steak on that trip, so it wasn't a total bust.

Edited by AdventureSubaru, 24 September 2013 - 02:04 PM.

#7 wtdash


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 03:32 PM


I've bought multiple cars on ebay and (keep telling myself) won't again due to the hit-or-miss nature of it.


The 'hit' is I've bought @ least 3 cars from back east due to their low cost-even w/shipping. The 'misses' - One had undisclosed body damage, another had piston slap so bad I thought it was rod knock (one of my first Subies), another had low compression, etc. In most of these cases I didn't lose money when I went to resell it, but I certainly didn't get the deal I'd budgeted for.


I've actually gone thru eBay's 'refund policy' and got $$ back on 2 of the car deals due to poor descriptions on the Seller's part (and threat of Negative Feedback). It's very important to find all the 'undisclosed' issues as soon as possible, in order to make a claim, if warranted.


There are pre-inspection companies that for $100+ will do a 'buyer's inspection'- that may be a  good idea - can't tell ya for sure as I never had one done. Usually a link on each ebay listing.


So, I've just learned to buy local so I can check it out myself, and avoid the hassles of a long-distance 'relationship'.


On the CarFax vs. Auto check, I believe the Carfax will sometimes include maintenance (esp. if done @ a dealer) info that Auto check does not - @ least in the dozen or so reports I've seen over the years. The Carfax will show the dealer/shop's name and what was done, which can be useful if the Seller  discards all previous maintenance history that may contain their personal info, due to today's ID Theft concerns.

(Side-note: the 'free' V I N  c h e c k loophole has been fixed by Auto-check, last I heard.)


And I agree that a salvage/rebuilt/etc title isn't always bad, but more and more people are 'getting smart' and pulling a report to know the history. Of course, there are likely a ton of cars that get repaired and are put back on the road w/out any report being filed.



Edited by wtdash, 24 September 2013 - 03:33 PM.

#8 grossgary


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Posted 24 September 2013 - 06:39 PM

none of this likely matters, if you're looking to score a cheap car on ebay you're not likely to want to pay $100 for a "maybe"....but, good call on the pre-sale inspections.  the companies that i've seen, i've had a few inspect cars i've sold, are actually decent and i'd consider it worth the money if it's like $100 or so - they aren't always favorable to older cars as they're used to doing inspections on garage queen BMW's, but you'll get accurate and detailed reports and you'll want that kind of scrutiny as the buyer.  as the seller it's annoying having your Subaru wedged between a few year old beemer and mercedes appointments. they do an extensive job with a keen eye on collision damage/repairs, floods, the big ticket stuff like that.  they take zillions of pictures and detailed notes.  they of course won't have any subaru specific knowledge at all, you may very well be able to inform them about things like headgasket external leak inspection or a coolant in exhaust test, torque bind, etc.  not sure if they would oblige but i see no reason for a non-invasive, no tool required test or glance in a particular area.

#9 1badmkIrocco


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Posted 10 October 2013 - 08:20 PM

It wasn't a Subaru but one of the best used car purchases I ever made was on eBay.  It was post Katrina in New Orleans and the used car market had dried up (because so many cars had got wiped out in the flooding 250K+ cars) I needed a car with better ground clearance than the slammed Miata that I owned and purchased a really clean grey market Mercedes 280E in Seattle for $1400.  The thing was super clean and I commuted in the car for a year and made 2 cross country trips in it.  Unfortunately the CIS Fuel Injection crapped out and I was unable to get it repaired so I sold the car for $800 as a project locally. 



Edited by 1badmkIrocco, 10 October 2013 - 08:20 PM.

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