Used Car Buying And Selling Guide

This used car buying/selling guide is the most informative in-depth article ever published about motor vehicle buying and selling. Published by a retired used car dealer, Doc will guide you through the online car buying process for a rewarding experience!

Internet Car Buying Selling Guide

Be sure to read this guide before buying or selling automobiles online! 😉

Table of contents: Avoiding Fraud | Private Party Purchases | Purchasing From Dealers | Buying From Wholesalers | eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection Program (VPP) | Newbie Car Dealers | Rebuilt and Salvage Title Vehicles | Vehicle History Reports | Vehicle Warranty | Vehicle Inspection | Buying Older Automobiles | Odometer Fraud | Vehicle Sales Tax | Making Safe Vehicle Payment | Advice For Sellers.

Buying a car from a private seller: Beware of private sellers that buy and sell vehicles without being licensed. Flipping vehicles from one owner to another. This kind of seller is an unlicensed used car dealer AKA the Curbstoner.

Example of a curbstoner. Buyer A the curbstoner buys a car from a little old lady in a local newspaper. Instead of going to the DMV and transferring that title into his name, the curbstoner resells the car to Buyer B.

Curbstoner (unlicensed car dealer) Selling Open Title Car
Unlicensed Dealer Selling Open Title Car

Buyer B prints his name on the back of the title but does not go to the DVM and transfer the title into his name. Instead, buyer B has done a few repairs and cleaned the car up. then decides to sell it.

In this situation, buyer B becomes seller B and sells the car to Buyer C who is in another state. Seller B crosses his name out on the back of the title and writes Buyer C’s name over his crossed-out name.

Seller B then hands the title to Buyer C who takes it to his tag office to transfer the title. The title clerk takes one look at that crossed-out name and rejects the title for transfer.

style=”font-weight: normal;”>Here is where the paperwork nightmare begins for used car buyer C. Buyer C’s motor vehicle bureau tells him to contact the previous owner whose name is printed on the title. Buyer A would be required to transfer this title into his/her name, pay any taxes due, yadda, yadda, yadda, then sign the new title they receive over to Buyer B who would repeat this process and sign the title over to Buyer C.

style=”font-weight: normal;”>The problem is the little old lady that sold the car has no idea to who she sold the car to. Buyer A paid her cash and had her sign off as the seller. By law, this car is Legally Still Titled in Her Name. If that car is used in a crime or involved in an accident, the police will come to her. It’s an absolute paperwork nightmare. Often it’s easier to get the registered owner to file for a duplicate title. Then sign it over to the person trying to title it in their name. Though a motor vehicle bureau official will not tell anyone this because it’s considered illegal. Any way you look at it, it’s buyer C’s absolute nightmare getting a transferable title.

TIP to avoid a non-transferable title situation: Vehicles are referred to as “Titled Property.” By law a motor vehicle can only be legally sold by it’s registered owner or a licensed dealer.

Doc advises anyone who is buying a used car long distance on the Internet from a private seller to request title documentation. Ask for a fax or email attach of “both sides of the title, along with a copy of the sellers drivers license or photo ID.” This is the best proof a long distance buyer can get proving the vehicle is titled in the sellers name. If the person selling the vehicle is not the registered owner – it’s not his car to sell!

If the buyer and seller are in the same state go with the seller to the motor vehicle bureau (DMV) to  transfer the title. And do not hand over the cash until the title clerk says the title is OK to transfer.

An audio clip from Doc explaining why buyer should ask seller for photo ID.

Curbstoning got so bad on eBay Motors that the auction house modified its Vehicle Purchase Protection Program (VPP) coverage to exclude curbstoners rather than set sale limits on private vehicle sellers. This means “buying a car and receiving title – but not being able to transfer it” (The Curbstoner Exclusion.) If you end up with a curbstoner car you might be stuck with a nontransferable title vehicle.

The only possible solution would be to locate the registered owner.  Have that person apply for a duplicate title and sign it over to you. Or file a suit against the seller. Attorneys are not cheap, and even if you manage to get a judgment it may be impossible to collect it. Add attorneys fees and court costs and the cost could exceed the value of the vehicle. So Just Beware!

Old Collector Cars are common for having open titles. Lots of these cars are either for parts or non-running. Or was it was project someone started to restore but never completed? Others are restored but never titled in the owner’s name.  The car’s buyer bought it as an investment and didn’t want to pay the taxes and registration fees. It’s not uncommon to see a collector car go through a half dozen owners without a title transfer. If a collector car’s title has an error or gets lost it can be a nightmare getting a duplicate issued.

Buying a Car on eBay Motors: eBay offers up to $100,000 Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) on covered vehicles purchased from their Motors Venue. VPP is worth its weight in Gold for certain coverages such as. Buying a car that is stolen. Buying a car with an undisclosed lien. However, It only covers vehicles up to 10 years old. Covers buyers in the U.S.A and Canada only. And has a ton of exclusions. Anyone that’s considering buying a car on eBay Motors should read the coverage and exclusions fine print . VPP is not a substitute for good old common sense. Buyers should contact sellers and ask whatever questions they have. Buyers should also have the vehicle inspected, before bidding or purchasing.

Buying a car from a licensed dealer: A dealer most likely will want more for a car than a private seller. It’s a safe bet that the title will be proper and should be no problem to transfer. Dealers are licensed and also bonded in most states. But it’s still advisable to verify the dealer has a physical location. If so it’s a safe bet that you will not drive up to an abandoned building or vacant lot somewhere after sending payment for a car.

Buying cars from Wholesalers: It’s also common in the car business to have wholesalers working off another dealer’s license. The wholesaler usually pays a draft fee to use the dealer’s funding. And to gain auction access to source their cars. Lots of dealer cars are offered by wholesalers on the Internet. The wholesaler can issue temporary tags and deliver a car as a dealer’s agent. Plus the dealer is responsible for his agent’s actions. So buying from a wholesaler is a safe bet to deal with on a long-distance transaction.

Licensed Used Car Dealers Bidding At Auto Auction
Licensed Car Dealers Bidding At Auctions

Independent Dealers buy most of their cars at Dealer Auctions. These days the greatest majority of Franchised Dealers send all their trade-ins to the auction.

This accomplishes two things. It keeps their used car managers from taking money under the table and selling trades to their friends at a reduced price. Auctions also ensure the dealership will get top dollar for a nice trade-in unit. Vehicles are also sold as repossessions by banks and finance companies. Wholesalers selling made-up cars. And non franchised dealers swap the units they can’t sell among each other.

Older cars are mostly sold on the “red light” AS-IS with No Warranty. Dealers sell online lists and sell them the same way they buy them – AS-IS! When the auctioneer’s gavel falls and he hollers SOLD! Someone is the proud owner of that unit with any and all faults it may have. If it doesn’t have a reverse that’s too bad. There is no crying in the office about it. Lots of these kinds of vehicles end up for sale on the Internet! This is where a vehicle Inspection can be worth its weight in gold!

Becoming a new used car dealer: This is an experience some newbie car dealers may want to forget about. There is nothing like the experience the newbie dealer will gain by going to the “Unofficial Car Dealer School – The Dealer Auction.” Here they will learn all about bidding against the coke machine. Among other things that are unofficial trade secrets of the used car business.

Newbie car dealers also learn the hard way about buying a set-up car at auction. They usually pay every nickel for that (set up to sell) unit. The next day the air is hot. A week later that nice shiny finish fades away to reveal the painted panels and other things that were not noticed when the car ran through the auction. It sits around for a couple of months and does not sell. The newbie dealer takes it back to the auction to try and dump it. Unfortunately, the regular sellers get good early run numbers. A newbie used car dealer ends up running at the end of the sale when most everyone has gone home. The only way to get rid of a turd like this is to put it on the Internet and hope someone from another state buys it sight unseen without an inspection!

Rebuilt and Salvage Title Vehicles: Most car buyers have no idea what the word “Rebuilt Title” or “Salvage Title” means. When a car is severely damaged by an “Accident, Flood, Fire, or other damage which exceeds 2/3 of its book value an insurer may declare it a total loss. Soon afterward a total loss vehicle’s title is canceled by its issuing state.

Someone buys that total loss vehicle at auction or elsewhere. At that time the vehicle could be used for parts. Or its prior damage is repaired to become street-legal again. Most states require that repaired vehicles be inspected by the State Division Of Motor Vehicles (DMV.) When the car passes inspection it is issued a Rebuilt Title. Different states have similar wording for the rebuilt titles, we are using the state of Florida as our example.

Certificate Of Destruction means just what it says. Vehicles with a certificate of destruction labeling can never be issued a rebuilt title. Certificate of destruction vehicles may only be used for parts. This kind of vehicle will never be street-legal again, though another state may issue a title for it.

Rebuilt title used cars should be bought for around 30% of book value. Vehicles with rebuilt titles also may not be insurable. If considering purchasing a rebuilt title automobile contact your insurance company.

Rebuilt title older automobiles can be reliable cheap transportation. As an example. An older vehicle is involved in a minor front-end collision that deploys its airbags (SRS) and is declared a total loss. Acquiring used airbags, control modules,s, etc from a salvage yard and repairing them would make a good daily driver if it’s bought cheap enough. Inspect rebuilt title vehicles yourself or hire someone that can before purchasing.

Factory warranty remaining vehicles: Lots of late-model used cars have an advertised “Factory Warranty” Or the balance of a factory warranty remaining. It is advisable to check to be sure that the advertised warranty is correct yourself. Don’t just assume the seller is telling the truth. Get the vehicle’s Identification Number (VIN) and call your local dealer and inquire about what warranty is remaining on that vehicle. Many situations will void a factory warranty. Accidents, Modifications, Abuse, Commercial Usage, Etc. Remember it’s your obligation to verify every detail about a vehicle you are interested in purchasing.

TIP: Once again Trust Nobody! Can you imagine being stuck making payments for several years on some falsely advertised late-model used car? The more money you are investing the greater the chance of getting taken advantage of by a bad seller in another state or country. Do your homework folks!

Vehicle History Reports: A CarFax report can be worth its weight in gold if you find out that the car you are planning on buying has undisclosed problems. Major accidents or salvage history, flood damage, odometer discrepancy, etc.

CarFax is without a doubt the leading authority in vehicle history reports. Vehicle history reports are only available for 1981 and newer passenger vehicles with the standard 17 Character VIN Number.

CarFax often includes major service history on vehicles that others do not. So if your looking at a car online and have serious thoughts about buying it. Be wise buyers and purchase a CarFax report on it. Remember these history reports are only displaying the data their companies purchase. They should only be considered a GUIDE to a motor vehicle’s history.

National Insurance Crime Bureau VIN Check
National Insurance Crime Bureau VIN Check

Another Good Vehicle VIN Check is the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). This database is FREE and a must-check to look up insurance payoffs or other major vehicle damage .

style=”font-weight: normal;”>Doc once read a forum discussion where a buyer had won an auction for a late model Mazda Rx8. Experian Auto Check didn’t show any discrepancies. Even the car’s Carfax report was clean. But the NICB Database showed a total loss. Further investigation revealed that the owner of the car was paid an insurance settlement and kept the car so that settlement was never reported to the history report companies.

The private seller was deceitful and the buyer walked away. Once again it was a “Bargain Buggy” that turned out to be not such a bargain after all. This buyer was SMART and did his homework before paying for the car.

The old saying is often true. You get what you pay for! If you are looking into buying a used car in another state. Chances are it’s the low price that got your attention. Especially on auctions where the bidding can be at half of the book value or less in the beginning.

Buying older vehicles: Doc’s example of older means the used car is usually 8-10 years old or older. And has an odometer reading of well over 100k miles. Don’t expect a perfect showroom condition car regardless of what the advertisement claims. An old car can run perfectly today and puke an engine or transmission the next day. It’s just the nature of old used cars.

While technology has improved the modern automobile. All this high-tech stuff is very expensive to fix when the vehicle gets old or out of factory warranty. An engine or a transmission can easily exceed the value of an older vehicle.

Some sellers advertise vehicles as being perfect but are far from it. The seller is banking on someone far away who will buy the car and have it shipped home without an inspection. Don’t get taken by a sleazy seller and buy without an inspection!

Vehicle Inspection
When buying a used car SUV van truck etc online, having it inspected is a must-have service.

Don’t fall for a car that has been “set up for photos.” The car might look good online but has hidden mechanical problems. This includes undisclosed frame damage or undercarriage rust. And many other undisclosed problems.

Certain cars when they get old have their own faults and failures. For instance, older Cadillacs with the early NorthStar V8 are prone to head gasket failures. Repairs such as this example can exceed the value of the car. It’s the buyer’s responsibility to either check the vehicle out in person. Or if that’s not possible have an inspection company check it out. There are many Mobile Inspection Services that will inspect a car in another state. If you buy a car sight unseen and it’s not as described you will be stuck like Chuck!

Odometer Tampering Fraud
Odometer Tampering Fraud – Including Exempt

Odometer Tampering Fraud: This is another situation anyone buying a car should be aware of. The LAW says that a vehicle’s odometer will not be tampered with . It’s very clear on the subject of rolling back an odometer. Or replacing an odometer with another show lower mileage. This includes exempt-status vehicles. The law makes no exception to altering an exempt vehicle’s odometer. Any vehicle 10 years old or older is exempt from odometer recording.

If a vehicle’s odometer has been replaced or repaired it must be disclosed when the vehicle is sold. Franchised dealerships repair techs that replace an odometer as a rule put a notification sticker in a car’s door jamb showing the date and mileage (if known) that an odometer was replaced. New odometers from the dealer usually start off at 0 mileage (analog).

Shady-used car dealers and scamming private individuals may alter (rollback) an analog odometer to deceive a buyer. Often a CarFax Report will show a vehicle’s mileage history. It’s a good investment to purchase a CarFax Report on any vehicle 1981 or newer to check the mileage readings. Also state DMV records, inspection stations, etc, record a vehicle’s mileage in the state database. If you suspect a vehicle you are considering buying is displaying the wrong mileage. Check the registered state DMV to see what their recorded mileage is on that vehicle. That information should be a public record, but you might have to pay them to get a printout.

A vehicle may have been into a franchised dealer for warranty service. Calling any franchised dealer and giving the service manager the last 8 of the VIN could reveal any odometer discrepancies. It’s also advisable to do a visual inspection. Check for wear on the brake pedal. Steering wheel. Check how easily the driver’s door opens and closes. Look for any visible signs that the mileage might be higher than the vehicle odometer is showing. Also, there is software on the market that will alter a digital odometer’s mileage reading. So if the odometer is digital, don’t rely on it being accurate. Do your homework and investigate for possible odometer fraud. It’s better to find out before purchasing a car that has been clocked than after the fact.

Odometer Exempt Vehicles: Any vehicle that is 10 years old or older is considered Exempt on Odometer Recording by Federal Law. Most dealer auctions will sell these age vehicles as “Odometer Exempt”. Chances are if a title transfer was done on an older car it will probably say Exempt on the title where the mileage would normally appear. Once a vehicle has been exempted it will stay that way.

An exempt qualifying older vehicle may possibly be registered as “Actual Miles” in most states as long as its supporting title and odometer reading/statement reflect this actual mile. Buying a 10-year plus automobile with an actual mile title? Get an actual miles odometer statement from the seller. Odometer statements can be downloaded on the net .

Old 5 Digit Odometers. Doc has seen many older cars with 5-digit analog odometers for sale. The car seller is advertising the car as actual mileage. This is mostly observed on old collector cars from the ’50s 60’s ’70s. The odometer (clock) has probably rolled over at least twice. In older cars, the condition of the vehicle is more important than low mileage.

There are no history reports on any car older than 1981 when the current 17 characters VIN became standard. So the only sure way to document the mileage on a collector or antique car is with service receipts. An old logbook that reflects dates and mileage readings of service work and oil changes etc. A logbook would have to look old to convince me it is legit. Don’t fall for a printed-out document with dates and mileage.

If you buy an older car and the title states “Actual Mileage” be sure to get the seller to sign an odometer statement that the mileage IS ACTUAL. When registering the vehicle be sure to request the DMV record the mileage as actual. You have to request this as they will record it Exempt if you don’t request it! This is really important to keep the market value of an older car with actual miles. Transferring the title to Except might affect the car’s market value!

Vehicle Sales Taxes Effecting Out Of State Car Sales: Most states are reciprocal as far as collecting their taxes goes. It’s best to check with the dealer you are buying from about any tax liability. It is also recommended to call your state’s DMV to find out if any taxes are due when you register the vehicle. Every state is different. Also, be advised not all dealers follow the law and collect the proper taxes. If the dealer does not collect tax, you can usually pay it at your DMV when transferring the title. Be prepared to produce a Bill Of Sale to prove what you paid for the vehicle.

Making Safe Vehicle Payment: If you have done your homework and are ready to purchase your internet car use a safe payment method. NEVER use Western Union or any other Cash Transfer Service. Beware of Fake Escrow Services that will steal your money! WU is the Scammer’s Choice for receiving payments because a payment can be picked up in any country. All the fraudster needs is the money transfer number.

Beware of sellers who request payment by gift or prepaid debit cards. This type of fraud often uses PayPal and Amazon gift cards. The fraudster will request the card’s redemption codes by email. Beware of smartphone apps such as OfferUp and Letgo that are being used to defraud buyers and sellers.

Doc’s payment choice for doing an internet vehicle transaction online would be to send it by a bank wire transfer. If buying from a licensed dealer the dealer could provide you with the company’s bank wire transfer instructions via email or by fax. This is especially good if you will be getting the vehicle shipped home and want to be sure the dealer receives your payment. Another option is to pay by a Cashiers’s Check and mail it using USPS Priority or Express Mail with Signature Confirmation. This is important so you know they signed for it.

When Doc was selling cars on the Internet he would send the title and paperwork requiring a signature. Good insurance for making sure the title didn’t get lost in the mail. If a cashier’s check is lost in the mail, the issuing bank most likely would require you to put up a bond before replacing it. Don’t take the risk of getting stuck like Chuck because you were too cheap to properly mail the check!!

If you are picking the vehicle up in person paying cash on delivery is OK too. I would be sure the seller had the title and would be handing it over to the buyer on delivery. Be sure to have followed my advice earlier in this article and did your title ownership homework. Along with any vehicle inspection etc. There’s nothing worse than flying long distances with a ONE-WAY TICKET and finding out the vehicle was a POS because you didn’t have it inspected.

Avoiding Internet Vehicle Fraud and Phishing Brand Scams: The Net IS INFESTED with Fraudsters who offer a vehicle for sale at an incredibly low price.

Don’t be a victim of Internet phishing scams!

If a vehicle’s price seems “unrealistically low” STOP and asks yourself. Is this a scam listing? What’s wrong with this car? Has it been in an accident? Was this car in a flood? Does this car have a rebuilt or salvage title? Don’t be defrauded!

Sellers Agent Vehicle Brand Fraud got its start on eBay Motors well over a decade ago. We honestly believe eBay could have put a stop to fraud by educating their community. But obviously, corporate profits were more important than their member’s security. Many fell victim to car scams on fraudulent listings, while eBay either claimed fraud was minuscule or denied its existence.

FBI Investigates Vehicle Purchase Protection Fraud
FBI Investigates vpp scams on consumers.

eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) Brand Fraud was claiming so many victims in 2011, that the FBI launched an investigation into brand fraud.

The Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) filed this report on August 15, 2011, advising consumers not to fall for vehicle scam advertisements.

Many fraudulent advertisements are found on Autotrader.com, Cars.com, Craigslist, eBay Motors, and many other online publications and smartphone apps.

Fraudsters are also advertising in conventional print publications like newspapers and magazines. Don’t lose your money to internet fraud!

Those ads you see are phishing sucker bait! And are intended to lure a prospective buyer to email the fraudster. The fraudster is most likely in Europe or another country operating out of an internet cafe or wireless broadband connection.

Internet fraudsters are pros at what they do! Steal money from gullible people thinking such an unrealistically low price is legit! Don’t Be a Victim of Internet Fraud!

Scammers are using Amazon’s Brand Name to defraud consumers. This counterfeit Amazon.com website is registered in Beijing China. It’s used as part of a confidence scam setting up non-existent used car shipping. Don’t be a schmuck and lose your money to brand fraud!

Counterfeit Brands Website Domain Name
The counterfeit website was used in a vehicle shipping confidence scam. Registered in Beijing China.

Folks if you are online used car shopping and plan to meet someone to buy a car (or another item.) It’s best to meet in a public place during daylight hours only. A busy mall parking lot, a local police station parking lot , etc.

These retirees were murdered and robbed when meeting a stranger to purchase a 1966 Mustang. Criminals answering ads on local smartphone apps such as OfferUp and Letgo. Then make arrangements to meet and do business, but instead, sellers are killed and their merchandise was stolen.

Do not take unnecessary risks your life may depend on it!

fraudulent vehicle invoice
Confidence scam that will steal your money and identity

If you fall for one of these used car phishing scams your money will be gone in the blink of an eye. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s like taking your money and throwing it in the trash!

Also, be aware of MONEY MULES that get suckered into taking payment for a VEHICLE as a SELLER AGENT. Fraudsters contact people searching for jobs online and offer them jobs as an agent. The scammer has his victim wire the money to the agent who takes 10-20% of the sale proceeds as their commission. The agent (money mule) then wires the balance to someone else.

Scammers will often “RINSE” their dirty money several times in an attempt to hide their tracks. If a person falls for a work-at-home scam they could wind up in prison for “money laundering or grand theft.” The so-called agent will be up the creek without a paddle when the feds come knocking! So if someone contacts you about working for them as a seller’s agent collecting payments RUN!

Also of major importance. If you have emailed a scammer, there is a good chance they could have slipped a key logger or some other virus onto your computer. Be sure to do a full virus scan of your computer or smartphone. Then go online and change any banking or other online account passwords. Internet scammers are pros at doing what they do best stealing sucker’s money!

If you need a good free antivirus program try Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows. It works excellently and auto-updates its definitions just like Norton or other paid software.

Doc’s Best Advice For Internet Vehicle Sellers:

If you are selling your used car it’s best to put your terms of sale in your ad. Be sure to specify how you want to be paid. Cash on delivery is OK. If doing an internet transaction insist the buyer use a bank wire transfer to send your payment.

Also, it’s always best to tell prospective buyers in writing that your used car is sold AS-IS with no warranty. Doc used to say “if this car breaks in half you own both halves” which pretty much sums it up. Put this verbiage in writing. Even if your car has the balance of its factory warranty remaining, It should still be sold AS-IS but worded that it does have its remaining balance of factory warranty that follows the vehicle, not the owner. An example is here.

Here is a short audio snippet explaining why the used car AS-IS Sale is best!

NEVER Accept PayPal for a used car’s full purchase price. PayPal is good if you are looking for a quick way to collect a vehicle deposit. Doc suggests no more than $200-300. Be aware a credit card-funded chargeback could cost you that deposit money as a seller. Chargebacks are the number one reason not to accept full payment for an automobile by PayPal.

PayPal Buyer Protection does not cover “Vehicles or Vehicle Deposits.” Doc has read horror stories online where some PayPal customer support reps did not know Vehicle specific rules and let a buyer reverse a vehicle purchase. If you have sold your car truck boat or whatever is considered a vehicle you could wind up stuck like chuck.

Also, it is possible to charge back a credit card-funded used car purchase. However, a motor vehicle is considered titled property . Usually, credit card companies will not charge back on the titled property. BUT buyers have been known to lie to their credit card provider saying something other than a vehicle was purchased.

If PayPal gets a notification of a chargeback they take the money back from your account. If your account is empty they give you a minus balance and take anything that is received from that point on. PayPal will eventually turn the uncollected balance over to collections. And will surely file suit if the balance owed is large enough. If you have something to attach and good credit you will be stuck paying them. Here is a Good Example of why PayPal should not be accepted for a motor vehicle.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
March 25, 2017 5:14 PM

You picked a car with a rebuilt title. You can see repaired front grill. you never stated that a average with a rebuilt title is only worth 1/2 of it’s normal value. I would say this very possiable is priced correct. Thanks Ken

Marc
Marc
January 17, 2017 11:35 PM

What about buying a brand new car with 24 miles on it form a Chrysler dealer with just looking at pictures?

dan lapping
dan lapping
December 21, 2016 5:51 AM

Sold a 62 jag roadster no title as is condition to a jag dealer in Calif. Said they’d bank transfer upon delivery shipped car out.I accepted the 65,000 offer was asking 150.000 anyway the unpackaged the car every box and package all was inventoried. Then they held up the driver for half a day and sent a check back for 30k. They guaranteed me via conversation and private e mail full payment now the buyer intervene accept my calls texts or emails what recourse do I have.

Tony
Tony
November 4, 2016 2:09 AM

Hi I’m Tony, this is my first time buying out of state without seeing the vehicle which is not a big deal to me in the vehicle because i plan to do a overhaul if need be, but the dealership is a Kia and all there credibility seems to check out as being a location, licensed dealer and all. My next step in this transaction is to make a wire bank transfer for a used vehicle for 12000 dollars. What are the calculated steps I need to take that I might be missing to make sure this ends well in… Read more »

Stacy Hoch
Stacy Hoch
October 25, 2016 2:25 PM

Doc, Thanks for a very informative article! I found an Acura that was listed for sale by a private party (link removed by admin). However, after some digging and corresponding, they are not a private party but actually an auto auction group here in Indianapolis. They say they bought the car at auction in Ohio. This info matches the carfax. I’ve used the VIN and not found any major loss, accidents, salvage, or anything. The carfax says it was a personal lease vehicle in Pennsylvania for a couple of years. The mileage looks legit. But two things are bothering me.… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
October 26, 2016 7:20 AM
Reply to  Doc

Thanks so much for the information, Doc! This will help us move forward with confidence whether or not we end up actually buying this car. What a wealth of knowledge you are.

Stacy

Huzefa Bharma
Huzefa Bharma
October 21, 2016 7:11 AM

Thank for sharing such great list of car buying tips. As there are many things that should be kept in mind while going for purchasing new or old car. Mostly many people get cheated. Proper information about the dealer and the car owner must be done before buying.

Kdl
Kdl
October 19, 2016 6:14 PM

Doc, I am considering buying a car from the U.K. and having it shipped to NY. Can you recommend a shipping company (door to door) and an escrow agent? Thanks

Karsten Olsen
Karsten Olsen
August 14, 2016 6:49 PM

Hey, finally a place where I can find some answers to questions about buying on eBay motor. I’m looking at a Ford Mustang from 1967. Am I protect eBay vpp. If I pay by bank two banking account. If all the details done on the eBay site?

Jayshree Makadia
Jayshree Makadia
July 27, 2016 7:11 AM

Great article and found very useful tips, within 6 months I am planning to buy used car. Will implement the points mentioned in the article. Thanks!

Vic
Vic
June 30, 2016 9:49 PM

Hi there! Great tips. We’re looking to buy a classic (old) fire truck to bring to Puerto Rico. When buying a vehicle from an out of state seller does the buyer need to pick it up in person to sign the title transfer? I’m assuming thats a yes because the shipping company requires the title in your name.

David
David
May 28, 2016 6:51 AM

Doc. I listed a Corvette on Ebay, the auction ended with a winning bider in IL and I’m in FL. he wants the car shipped. I spoke to him on the phone. He agreed to a wire transfer but he requested a copy of the clear title to be emailed to him and he said he’s sending a signed bill of sale with he wants me to sign and email back before I receive the funds by wire. Im hesitant sending a scanned copy of the title and send back a signed bill of sale. How would you handle this… Read more »

Doc
Doc
May 28, 2016 7:38 AM
Reply to  David

Your buyer is obviously doing his homework. If i were buying a car online i would do the same thing, and i’d also request a copy of your driver’s license to be sure the car is legally titled in your name.

As for the bill of sale, since you are in Florida, a state approved bill of sale is recommended: https://www.flhsmv.gov/dmv/forms/BTR/82050.pdf . I would write on the bill of sale the car is sold as-is with no warranty. Be sure to state the current vehicle’s mileage.

Best wishes, Doc

Mark
Mark
May 27, 2016 11:13 AM

Doc I’m looking to buy a 2nd hand luxury car, I have found a private owned vehicle in FL (I’m in VA). The car was auctioned on Ebay without a bid, I have been in contact with the seller who tells me it has a lien on it. I have also checked with the manufactured who have confirmed service details and the existence of a warranty. I want to have the car checked by a 3rd party, the lien paid out and then the car shipped to me. Is there a reliable service that will do this for me that… Read more »

Doc
Doc
May 27, 2016 12:04 PM
Reply to  Mark

Hi Mark, I used CarChex back in the old days, don’t know if they are still in business. Otherwise possibly try Googling vehicle inspection and the zip code where the car is.

As for the payoff the lender should be able give you the amount. Possibly issue two cashiers checks (after the inspection), one for the seller and another to send yourself to the lender. Stipulate the title be sent to you directly. Florida is an electronic title state so there may be a fee for a paper title.

Best wishes, Doc

Nidhish
Nidhish
December 11, 2015 4:09 AM

Helpful article with facts online car buyers need. I recommend reading this article if your car shopping online.

Scott Krenytzky
Scott Krenytzky
September 27, 2015 1:13 PM

I put my junk Accord on Craigslist for $500 and found a buyer in CA. He wants to send a check for the car plus extra money to pay the transport service to pick up the car. I am supposed to contact him when the cashiers check clears and he will arrange for pickup. Do you think this is legit? What about the signing of the title and notarization? Thanks.

Abby Bennett
Abby Bennett
September 22, 2015 10:37 PM

Hi! I’m supposed to go look at a car Thursday that I found on Craigslist. This dealer also sells cars on eBay, so I looked up his ratings as well as the same car he has listed on there (link removed by moderator) eBay Item 331660804721 – 2015 Toyota Prius. He has a 100% seller rating and the VIN (JTDKDTB34F1578269) checks out in auto check. I am still a little hesitant because the car is priced below what it is worth ($13,900)…. Any advice? I am going to look at it in person.

Doc
Doc
September 23, 2015 12:05 PM
Reply to  Abby Bennett

Do the words sucker bait make sense? A 2015 Prius C is booking out at $28,895 according to nadaguides.com. As we often say in the car business, there’s an ass for every seat. Don’t swallow the sucker bait!

The current $1,025 bid on eBay Motors is such a joke. And the seller has a nice presentation with lots of good photos too.

AlwaysPathfinders
AlwaysPathfinders
September 16, 2015 1:20 PM

Hey ed I’m supposed to go look at a couple cars tonight that I found via Craigslist. The one seems pretty legit. Gonna go meet the person and be says he has service records for it. Seems like a normal deal so far but the guy is asking a bit much for a privately sold car. The other one… He says he has it stored at a friend’s/ mechanics garage, but then later says it’s parked on the street there, and then tells me it’s not actually his car. It’s his brother in laws car. He said it was recently… Read more »

Doc
Doc
September 16, 2015 4:46 PM

Well for starters, I don’t suggest looking at cars at nighttime. Good way to get robbed or even killed. Besides it’s hard to look a vehicle over well at night. If your not a dealer and not a mechanic have the car inspected. Be sure the vehicle is titled in the sellers name. If you make a deal i suggest calling the local police and have them run the VIN to be sure it’s not stolen or fraudulently obtained.

Rip Poe
Rip Poe
September 1, 2015 6:45 AM

Thanks for sharing this useful post with us. Great study of this article and lots of tips in it to buy the new one vehicle. Thanks for this post.

Tom Steele
Tom Steele
August 30, 2015 1:58 PM

I just purchased a 1967 El Camino on the internet site unseen, except for photos stating purchase as is. The vehicle just arrived yesterday and is way worse then the photos!! Is there anything I can do to have car sent back and receive a refund on this purchase?? Very disappointed!!! And angry…

Doc
Doc
August 30, 2015 2:58 PM
Reply to  Tom Steele

Sorry to hear about that. I always advise consumers to have a vehicle inspected before committing to purchase.

Trust is little more than a five letter word with no meaning these days. AS-IS generally means just that. Attorneys are not cheap especially if another state is involved. It really sucks to be lied to about a vehicles condition!

knubby
knubby
August 9, 2015 7:28 PM

Hey Ed, I am selling a vehicle online and received texts from a interested buyer, he wants to send a check via USPS 2 day, with extra to cover shipping it to him. He says i can hold the vehicle till the check clears. Not sure if its a scam, sounds like one. also its a GA phone number and im in WI.

Doc
Doc
August 9, 2015 7:45 PM
Reply to  knubby

I suggest making voice contact with your prospective buyer and feel him out. As long as the buyer does not ask for you to send the extra shipping money to his agent of shipper, it could be for real. I would strongly recommend a bank wire transfer for payment. Otherwise I’d give any check a minimum 10 days to clear before releasing the car and title.

Good luck with your sale.

Net Auto
Net Auto
July 28, 2015 1:29 PM

Interesting post, we must always be very careful when selling anything on the internet but especially large purchases like a car.

manaman
manaman
July 24, 2015 6:45 PM

Hey Ed, Im in Bradenton FL and i found a vehicle that is hard to come by a 83 VW Vanagon , the van has sat for a year, I checked the vin and its not stolen but the seller has told me that the title is in the previous owners name still, that he didnt transfer it over because he was going to fix it up but it never happen, I still want the van because its a hard one to find, what should i do when i go meet him on Sunday , I havent seen the title,… Read more »

Doc
Doc
July 24, 2015 7:27 PM
Reply to  manaman

Since you both are in Florida, and assuming the vanagon has a Florida title i suggest both of you go to the DMV and try transferring it. I wouldn’t hand over the doe until i knew it was transferrable. If the vanagon does NOT have a Florida title it will have to either be driven or transported to the DMV for a VIN verification.

Open titles are quite a common situation with old cars. The only problem would be not able to transfer the title, which could be a paperwork nightmare to remedy.

manaman
manaman
July 24, 2015 7:30 PM
Reply to  Doc

But his name is not on the title, how would going to DMV help

Doc
Doc
July 24, 2015 7:39 PM
Reply to  manaman

I’d just hand it to the title clerk and say i want to title it. Can’t hurt, all they can say is yes or no. And if no give you a reason why not and what you need to correct to make it transferable.

Tahoegrrl
Tahoegrrl
July 23, 2015 9:36 AM

HI Ed, glad I found you! Here’s something I haven’t seen much of yet – my husband has been looking for a ’69 Camaro and found one on a “craigslist like” site. The car from the pics is gorgeous, and way under priced. Initially we thought it was in Iowa because of the site we found it on, but after he contacted the guy, he said he is in The Netherlands, but the car is registered in the states, says he wants to sell it to avoid registering overseas. Of course all kinds of alarms went off in my head!… Read more »

Doc
Doc
July 23, 2015 9:44 AM
Reply to  Tahoegrrl

This deal has phishing scam written all over it, especially the free shipping and inspection period. Probably trying to phish your husband out of a deposit type of scam.

As usual it’s the lure of an unbelievably good deal that snares internet car buyers. Best bet is to forget about it.

Best wishes, Doc.

Singh
Singh
July 20, 2015 12:48 AM

Hi Ed, Thanks for the article. It is very informative. I have one question. I am looking to buy a luxury sedan from dealer only auto auction. I spoke with one person from a different state who has dealers licence and buy vehicles for people from auctions for a flat fee. I am planning on taking an auto loan from my credit union, which offered to give me a check with a maximum limit where I can fill in the actual amount for the car and give it to the dealer. I am trying to understand what is the best… Read more »

Doc
Doc
July 20, 2015 7:50 AM
Reply to  Singh

From my experiences at dealer auctions a premium low mileage unit will bring close to retail book value. Add to the winning bid, auction, dealer, and transport fees will put you close to what you could buy that unit locally. In my opinion it’s a lot of risk taking to possibly save only a small amount. Probably not worth it. It’s common for credit unions to fund dealers after their lien has been applied. That’s the basic procedure, though other arrangements could possibly be arranged. As for reversing payment on titled property, that could be a criminal matter. Dealers usually… Read more »

George Allen
George Allen
July 12, 2015 6:12 PM

Thanks for the advice. I’m purchasing a classic car across state lines and then have it shipped. I’m asking for the seller to send me a copy of the title, both sides. Then when I’m ready to pay I thought I would ask him to hold the car, but send me the title. When I receive the title i will wire him the money, and he can release the car to the transport company when the wire clears. Does this sound reasonable to you?

Doc
Doc
July 12, 2015 6:32 PM
Reply to  George Allen

I strongly suggest you have the vehicle inspected before sending payment. If your seller is a private party I would request a photo ID along with copies of the title to ensure the vehicle is his or hers to sell. Otherwise your questions sounds OK to me.

Best wishes for a smooth successful purchase.

Tyler
Tyler
June 29, 2015 1:20 PM

When buying a car on ebaymotors, does the buyer typically send $ first or the seller send the title first? Is it title, $, then car or $, title, then car? I am the buyer. Have a scanned copy of the title showing seller has clear title.

Doc
Doc
June 29, 2015 3:35 PM
Reply to  Tyler

That would be up to the seller. When i sold cars online i required payment in full before releasing the vehicle and title.

A quick suggestion. If buying out of state or town and plan on having the vehicle shipped home, have it inspected first to be sure it’s in the condition that the seller says. Good job checking the title!

Best wishes for a successful transaction, Doc

Tyler
Tyler
June 29, 2015 3:40 PM
Reply to  Doc

Thank you, Doc!

Brandon
Brandon
May 17, 2015 12:01 PM

I just put a down payment on a vehicle that was listed on EBay, but I finalized the transaction off eBay. I had an inspector check the vehicle and it looks great. I want to have it shipped for $750. The dealer wants me to wire the remaining money before it is shipped. How do I make sure I am protected?

Doc
Doc
May 17, 2015 12:47 PM
Reply to  Brandon

Have you inspected the title to be sure it is the seller’s name? Or are you buying from a licensed dealer? Bank wire transfer is an approved payment method for eBay Motors vehicle transactions. If it were me i would want to be paid in full before allowing the shipper to pick the car up. Sounds like you have done your homework. Just make sure the seller is not peddling an open title. Open titles can wind up being unable to transfer into your name. Be sure to get a bill of sale. And if the car is under 10… Read more »

Wendy Miller
Wendy Miller
May 13, 2015 8:17 AM

Hi Doc, need your advice. My husband bought a van over the internet and had it transported to us on the other side of the US. It arrived with no title. Now the seller won’t answer any calls. All we have is a handwritten bill of sale (more like scribbled) and a copy of the cashed check (my husband is obviously a very trusting person). What do you recommend as course of action? My dad said send a certified letter for a bill of sale, but I bet he won’t answer that either (he’s about 24 years old).

Doc
Doc
May 13, 2015 9:52 AM
Reply to  Wendy Miller

Hi Wendy, please create a help topic in our forum so we can get more info: https://www.docsqualitycars.com/forum/help/ Where was the vehicle advertised for sale. What state is the seller in. What state are you in. Do you have a link to the vehicles ad. Please post this info in our help forum only.

Doc
Doc
April 14, 2015 5:44 PM

Friends, Please do not place ads to sell your ride here. This website is not intended as a place to peddle stuff. If you need advice buying or selling vehicles feel free to ask questions.

Thanks for understanding.

Brian Kelley
Brian Kelley
March 19, 2015 1:29 PM

Thank you for posting this article. I think it’s important to only deal with customers willing to pay cash for your used car. Too often people end up in small claims court because of the variety of people on craigslist, etc. Great tips all around. Great article.

Doc
Doc
March 19, 2015 9:11 PM
Reply to  Brian Kelley

Brian, thanks for your comment. Yes cash is king just have to make sure it’s not counterfeit. The net is a rough place to do business. I long for the good old days where trust and community values ruled.

Tony
Tony
February 16, 2015 1:28 PM

I live in Ohio and recently purchased a vehicle from a used car dealer in Florida. It has been two months since I paid for it, and just received the vehicle two weeks ago. Besides it being a POS ,even though it has low mileage, I still have not yet received the title. The dealer keeps using others as an excuse to why it hasnt been sent yet, but in the meantime has sold dozens of cars on ebay with positive feedback in those two months. So obviously others are receiving their titles. He has also sold well over 500… Read more »

Doc
Doc
February 16, 2015 4:50 PM
Reply to  Tony

If it’s a late model car chances are it had a lien on it. Standard procedure is for the trading dealer to send a payoff to the lender to receive title. I have seen titles back in a week and as long as two months. Now that most states have gone paperless titles if a car is sold to a buyer in another state a paper title must be ordered. I’d give it a little more time. But on the other hand, don’t delay past your vpp filing deadline. If you end up filing a protection complaint and the title… Read more »

JTW
JTW
January 8, 2015 12:52 AM

i am buying a vehicle in Indiana and I live in South Carolina. The Carfax came back great. I will have the car shipped to my home in South Carolina. The seller wants me to wire him money and then the car will be shipped. How do I protect myself in this transaction?

Doc
Doc
January 10, 2015 12:31 PM
Reply to  JTW

If you did your homework as i suggested in this article you should be OK. I assume you have contracted with the shipper? It would also be a good idea to check out the shippers reputation online.

Sorry for the late reply, i did not get notification of your comment. Best wishes, Doc

jon
jon
October 10, 2014 5:32 PM

Yes, I agree. I really can’t thank you enough for your help on this. I don’t know if I will recover the 2k but I’m definitely going to stay away from this one and limit my losses. And I just want to say, in an era of scammers and crooks, you are providing an amazing public service. Thanks so much Doc, you’re awesome!!!

jon
jon
October 10, 2014 6:12 AM

Hi Doc, I like your blog. Thank you. So, my situation: I just purchased a vehicle on eBay and think I may be dealing with a curbstoner, though I’m not sure. I’ve put a very significant deposit down on the vehicle and also purchased a flight two states away. But now I am concerned. Red flag #1 After some prodding the seller says the vehicle is not in his name, but his wife’s name. That she will sign if over. Oh, and his wife’s name is suspiciously spelled very similarly to his own name. Wife’s name. Major red flag. The… Read more »

carson
carson
September 28, 2014 3:29 PM

Hi there,

I have a quick question for you. I just sold a car on Ebay, received full payment via paypal and the buyer is wanting me to send him a photo of the free and clear title. Is this okay/dangerous to do?

Roy McCullough
Roy McCullough
September 27, 2014 12:19 PM

I like your blog and agree with most of warnings the part about curbstoners crossing out their buyers names off a title is a bit unheard of for me but something to watch out for. For sure! My name is Roy McCullough I like cars and various vehicles I am always keeping an eye out for good deals on vehicles and just like so many other people if I think I can get it cheap and resell it to make 100 bucks I might do it so technically that makes me a curbstoner? Lol Usually if it’s cheap than its… Read more »

Roger Grimes
Roger Grimes
September 26, 2014 4:56 PM

Very up front article with the facts internet car buyers need. I recommend reading this article if your car shopping online.

Abe
Abe
September 6, 2014 2:17 PM

This is a good car buying tips article. It covers all the basics and so much more. Working those scammers with that deposit SUV scam is a very informative video. Any prospective car buyer should watch it.