by Andrew Rohrlich
Selling things on eBay has long been a popular way to make extra cash. You can market and sell many personal items there, from antiques to the latest tech. But did you know you can sell cars through eBay, too?
A 10-Step Guide to Selling a Car on eBay Safely
Selling a car brings a fair share of challenges and risks, especially if you move the process online. However, you can make the process smooth, effortless, and secure with adequate information and proper precautions.
Here's a comprehensive guide on how to sell a car on eBay safely to help you out on your sales journey:
1. Take Time to Understand eBay Motors
How does eBay Motors work? Listings on eBay Motors cover everything vehicle-related one can sell on eBay. On this page, you can find all kinds of accessories and replacement parts for your car based on its make and model. You can even sell and buy various types of vehicles, such as recreational watercraft, motorcycles, golf carts, or aircraft.
As eBay is less locally oriented than sites like Craigslist, listing vehicles and parts on it can be a great way to reach a wide pool of potential buyers. Before you do so, however, explore the website and the available offers to get a sense of how eBay Motors works.
Once you explore the site and decide to list a car, you must create an eBay seller’s account. You also must keep track of eBay vehicle purchase protection requirements and sales policies to post an ad without issues. We also recommend exploring eBay fees for selling a car (they are typically lower for high-volume sellers). Fortunately, you can call an eBay Motors phone number for more information.
2. Prepare Your Car for Sale
Before selling your car, ensure you have it in excellent condition. The more potential issues you take care of before listing the car, the more you earn from it. Simple things like getting the car detailed, touching up any stains or paint scuffs, and performing a service to ensure everything is working can go a long way toward assuring a buyer that your vehicle is a good investment.
If your car has mechanical problems, consider getting them fixed before selling. As-is sales aren’t always a deal breaker, but buyers may prefer getting a car in good condition that needs no visits to the mechanic shop immediately.
Still, if you decide to list a car without fixing some minor issues, disclose those in the listing. Otherwise, the buyer may reject the vehicle after the sale because of false advertising.
3. Take Photographs and Perform a Personal Inspection
When selling a car online, buyers typically don’t get a chance to inspect it in person before buying, so you should include detailed photos of the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Potential buyers should know what they'll get exactly.
Before photographing, take the time to inspect the vehicle for any damage or other issues you may need to document in the photos. Here's what to include in your photos:
When capturing the outside of the car, photograph every angle, including the front, the back, and the sides. Always try to catch and highlight the features you like the most, such as specialty headlights or fresh new paintwork.
Be sure to provide close-up photos of any damage, such as scratches, dents, or rust. If damage is difficult to see, consider highlighting it with brightly colored tape.
For the best images, park the car in front of a neutral or simple background (e.g., the side of a building or an empty yard), and avoid including other vehicles in the photos, as this can be confusing.
You may encounter low lighting when taking interior photos, which may obscure the details you want to show. Therefore, try to take interior shots on a sunny day or use artificial lighting to highlight dark areas.
Interior photos should cover everything inside the car, including the dashboard, the center console, floorboards, cupholders, and seats, possibly from multiple angles, including underneath. Like you did with exterior photo shooting, you should highlight any damage, stains, or tears. We also recommend capturing tech features (e.g., displays and speakers) and all aftermarket upgrades, so the buyers know what they get.
Finally, don't forget to photograph the trunk, the engine, the odometer (for the reading), and the VIN.
4. Provide a Detailed Description of the Car in Your Listing
One of the most significant parts of an effective listing is the description. That's where you get to do most of the marketing and selling.
When you set up the eBay Motors listing, the site will ask you for essential vehicle-related information such as the make and model, condition, engine type, or history. Fill in as many details as possible because they will help buyers narrow their searches and find your car. Without enough information, your listing may fail to reach buyers.
When filling in the details, ensure you highlight all the best-selling points of your car, whether that be excellent fuel efficiency or a fire-breathing V8 under the hood. Show potential buyers why your car is better than the others in their search.
However, be careful not to make your listing appear fraudulent by avoiding disclosing drawbacks. Stay honest in your review of both positives and negatives.
5. Know the Different Listing Options on eBay
There are a few different ways to price your car on eBay, each with its benefits, drawbacks, and listing fees.
Buy It Now or Reserve Price Listing
Buy It Now listings offer perhaps the simplest way to price your vehicle. In this fixed-price listing, you set the amount you would like to sell your car for, and if a buyer is interested, they pay that sale price.
However, while this guarantees you get the amount you seek, it may prolong the sale because buyers may get put off by the inflexibility of the price.
A more flexible option is the reserve-the-price listing. If you set a reserve price, the vehicle will not sell for less than the documented amount, even if people place lower bids. In case no bids come above the reserve price, no one gets the car, and you can relist it again.
The cited listing type guarantees you a minimum sale price, but it may cause buyers to be wary of bidding since the amount of the reserve price is not shown on the listing. If you need to sell your car in a hurry, you may need to omit the reserve price since there is no guarantee anyone will bid above it.
You can also guarantee a minimum sale without a reserve price by setting the starting bid at what your reserve would be. However, with this option, you run the risk of having no bids at all.
You can add the Best Offer to the Buy It Now listings to give more flexibility to potential buyers. If a buyer makes an offer through eBay, you’ll get a message with the bid and the option to accept it, reject it, or provide a counteroffer. When you make a counteroffer, the new proposal goes to the buyer with the same options. The process continues until both parties agree on a specific amount.
If you choose the Best Offer option, you may want to list the price slightly higher than you hope to sell your vehicle for, so that proposals remain within your desired price range.
With an auction listing, you provide a starting price, the increment by which you want bids to increase, and the end date. Then, people can bid on your vehicle until the time runs out and a winner is declared. Whoever bids the most gets the car.
You can combine this listing with Buy It Now and give someone a chance to pay your asking price rather than try to win your car.
6. Gather Vehicle History and Maintenance Records
Running a vehicle history report before listing a car for sale is an excellent way to keep track of potential issues and previous maintenance records that you need to disclose. In most cases, buyers will also run vehicle history checks before completing the sale, and if they find something you didn’t reveal, they may back out of the sale or leave negative feedback on your eBay account.
The history check can also help you gather maintenance records from before the car came into your possession for a complete look. This may also be reassuring to buyers.
7. Verify and Screen Prospective Buyer
Once a buyer makes an offer, accepts your starting price, or wins the auction, you get to deal with the payments, title transfer, and other essential documentation. However, before all of this, you should verify the identity and reliability of the buyer.
The buyer will likely do the same with you. Just like there can be dishonest buyers on eBay, there can be fraudulent sellers. Using a third-party service to verify the identity, products, and funding of the two parties is a great way to prevent sales from falling through or costing you later.
8. Confirm Vehicle Payment
When you verify your buyer is legitimate, you can finally move to the part of collecting payment. While one of eBay Motors' payment methods is PayPal, the choice is entirely up to you, as many third-party exchange services allow quick and easy money transfers.
However, not all payment services are created equal. Choose a service that protects both the buyer and the seller, provides easy access to your funds once the transaction is complete, and enables you to request the specific amount needed.
9. Transfer Title and Provide Other Important Documentation
Your work doesn't end when you accept payment, as you still need to transfer official ownership of the vehicle to the new owner and arrange vehicle delivery. Fortunately, the title transfer is quite simple and only requires you and the buyer to sign the transfer documents. Then, you need to submit these documents to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and that's about it. You'll get relieved from vehicle-related responsibilities.
Transferring the title is a significant step you need to take to protect yourself from any liability once the vehicle is out of your hands and enable the new owner to register it in their name. If the exchange occurs in person, you can sign all the documents on the spot, but if you intend to ship the car, ensure you use a secure online platform to sign and verify the documents. Some third-party services will also submit the documents to the appropriate offices for you, saving you time and effort.
10. Ensure Safe and Secure Delivery of Vehicle
The last step in selling a car on eBay is to ensure the vehicle gets into the hands of its new owner. If the buyer lives nearby, they may be able to pick up the car or arrange to meet you somewhere to exchange it. However, most online sales will require shipping the vehicle, so you'll need to find an appropriate company to handle this service.
When choosing a shipping service, ensure the company has insurance to protect you if anything happens once the vehicle leaves your property. Arrange the picking-up date, and let your buyer know when they can expect the delivery. Finally, have them confirm delivery when the car arrives. At that point, all parts of the transaction will get completed.
We only recommend including the shipping costs in your listing, so the buyers know whether they need to pay extra for it or not.
This article was written by Andrew Rohrlich. As a brand and product marketing expert, Andrew Rohrlich has crafted products, experiences and communications for household names like Gap and for multiple automotive technology businesses. For nearly a decade Andrew has studied automotive retail in depth from a customer point of view and aggregated the industry’s best research, thought leadership and know how to provide credible and important information to auto shoppers and sellers.