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.