How to Buy a Car on Ebay out of State

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buying a used car on ebay tips

Buying a car is something that most people would want to do in person, so shopping online for their next ride could be a terrifying idea for some. However, the process of buying a vehicle via the internet has become more sophisticated and secure over time.

One of the difficulties with buying a new car right now are finding car dealers with adequate stock to choose from. Since the pandemic, things such as automobiles are becoming challenging to purchase. Potential buyers may have to travel to purchase the car of their choice. Why? Well, that's a complicated question. Shortages with the supply chain –especially for things such as computer chips– are making new cars' purchase prices increase. As a result, more buyers are looking at used cars as one of the best ways to get a good deal. Thus, the price range even of used cars will increase over time.

As buyers look for alternatives to heading to the car lot and doing the traditional test drive, a great option is to check online for car listings. Using local listings is always ideal, of course. An ebay listing, for example, may be right around the corner! There's also listings that may be long distances from where you're located. However, a great deal may be worth the effort to travel to purchase your car. With any large purchase, ensure that you are buying from a real person, and that the listing is legitimate. We will look at this in more detail below.

Preparation is key to purchasing a car successfully online. You have to be aware of what you need to do, from searching the site to dealing with car shipping companies if transacting with sellers from out of state. Read on to know more about how to buy a car on eBay out of state.

buying a used car on ebay

Why Buy a Car on eBay?

Before going into the details on how to buy a car from an e-commerce site, you may be wondering why you would even consider buying a car on eBay. Buying anything online carries some risk, especially a vehicle that entails a large investment. Fortunately, eBay Motors has made strides in making the process safer. It has created user feedback, Vehicle Purchase Protection, and secure payment methods.

In 2019, the site had three Lamborghinis in its top five cars sold. The sales showed how eBay Motors could close transactions without any issue, no matter how big. If you're not familiar with eBay, you can purchase through an ebay auction or just “Buy it Now” which is basically an online transaction.

eBay has important terms and conditions to know, and you need to make sure you are signed in with your profile in your name prior to searching online for any large purchase. You can purchase as a guest, but some of the protections and customer service options eBay offers may become difficult to take advantage of if you did not make a purchase using your eBay secure profile. These small details are important to understand. We've heard of negative feedback from individuals who have made purchases as a guest, and then end up running into problems later. Be sure you are using a good email address, and are signed in correctly.

What You Should Know Before Buying

First, take note of the safety and emissions requirements of your state, as well as the title and registration forms you need to file. If you end up buying from a dealership, you typically don’t need to worry about these forms because they’ll handle them for you. You should have basic information from your seller on how to and where the purchase will take place. Do not agree to wait for important documents to be sent at a later time. Be aware of the timeframe in your state that is required to register your vehicle, and make sure your seller provides all legal documents to avoid stress, and of course avoid any scams.

You should also be aware of the taxes you need to pay when buying a car. Tax rates may differ between states, so you might need to pay for the difference. With buying an old car, the purchase price may be very low and the taxes are not a large amount of money. However for more expensive vehicle sale prices, taxes may be a large amount of money you have to prepare for. Understand your state's vehicle tax law to ensure you have budgeted for your vehicle.

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Find a Car You Like

Searching for a vehicle on eBay Motors is like searching for any item on eBay. Use specific search terms and take advantage of the filters available, such as make, model, and model year. If you find a listing you’re interested in, scroll down to the bottom and explore the tabs.

Here you will find the Description tab that provides information about the vehicle, the Vehicle History Report tab, and the Shipping and Payment tab. The last tab is dedicated to available car shipping companies if you buy the listed vehicle.

Common scams to avoid are seeing a deal that's too good to be true. Sellers may advertise a great deal on a great looking car, but then try to talk you into another car for sale is “similar”. Always rely on third party assessments like the Kelley Blue Book and Carfax (a vehicle history report) to determine if your car is a good deal. It may look beautiful, but have hidden problems or previous body work that will only show up on reports like Carfax. Keep in mind it's simple to look up Carfax if you have the VIN (vehicle identification number). If the seller refuses to allow you to see important information or is trying to rush you into a purchase, a good idea is to second guess the ebay seller.

Study the Purchase History on eBay

To make the most out of your budget, review the most recent transactions on the platform for the car you intend to buy. You can view transactions up to the last six months and see how much other people paid for the same type of vehicle.

This step will give you an idea of the car’s worth based on how much others paid for a similar unit. Used vehicle purchases will vary widely, but in general if you are paying thousands more or less for your car compared to similar purchases– something may be off. Your car should not be over priced, but on the other hand if it's well under the Blue Book Value and your price listing is way too low — this may be a red flag.

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Check the Seller’s Reputation

A simple way to check if the car seller is reputable is through the seller’s feedback rating. If you’re considering buying from dealers that sold numerous vehicles before, this is an excellent way to gauge their reputation. This is a good place to check a seller's potential reliability no matter what you're purchasing. Keep in mind the used car market is subject to scams, so buyer beware. If your seller's profile looks like it may be in a different state than they are advertising, or their feedback is poor, a best practice is to move on to a different listing.

There are individual car sellers on eBay who might be listing their vehicles for the first time. Although they may be an honest person, it pays to take a closer look. Thus, you need to do a more thorough online search in such a case. Look for the seller’s name or business on social media to learn more about the seller.

Contact the Seller

Once you’ve established that the seller is reputable, initiate direct contact. Chatting with the seller will give you the chance to ask for more details, such as warranty and insurance and shipping costs. How much you will be able to communicate on eBay may depend whether it is a car dealership or private sales.

Arrange an Inspection

If you won the bid on the car, have it inspected first before transporting it to your place. See if the vehicle you bought qualifies under eBay's Vehicle Protection Program. Some vehicles may be certified pre-owned so that you can ask for a copy of the certificate from the seller. If there’s no certification, ask the seller to take the car to a dealership for inspection or hire an independent mechanic. 

Again, if the seller of the vehicle is not on board with common checks to ensure the car's value, it may not be a reliable seller. Investing a little time into ensuring your car's value is what your paying, and your car's history is accurate is a smart way to buy.

Hire a Car Shipping Company

After completing the purchase, you will need to bring the car to your location. Your first option is to go all the way to the seller and drive the vehicle back. However, understand that doing this will add mileage and wear to your car, especially if you’re from out of state.

Another option would be to talk to several auto transport companies in the area where the vehicle will come from. Get multiple quotes to compare which moving company can provide the service you need within your budget. You may also hire a transport broker to handle the search and negotiations for you.


With eBay, you don’t have to limit yourself to vehicles for sale within a few miles. Buying a car on eBay, even from out-of-state sellers, can be safe as long as you’ve made all the necessary preparations. So start browsing now, and you might end up getting the car of your dreams on eBay.

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