Buying and Selling Online With Confidence

When looking to buy or sell a classic these days, you no longer have to stick close to home. The world can be your marketplace thanks to online auctions and classified ads. If you’re careful and do your homework, you can find the car of your dreams online.

Our 3rd Annual Hagerty Protection Network survey found that in the last five years, more than 35 percent of respondents had purchased a vehicle through eBay or another online service. It can be a convenient way to look for just the right car. But before you buy, do your homework.

  • Learn everything you can about the car in question. Read the description very carefully, noting details of features and condition. Make notes of items you’d like to ask the seller.
  • Assume the vehicle is in “As Is” condition unless specifically stated otherwise.
  • If the vehicle is 1981 or newer, run a vehicle history with the VIN. Your report will alert you to any accident reports or any “title brands” (such as a Salvage) that may be associated with the vehicle.
  • Find out about the seller. On a site like eBay, you can use the “Feedback” section, or ask for references.
  • Know your budget up front. Research price guides and know what you’re willing to pay; what your total costs will be (including registration, insurance, shipping, etc.); and look into your payment and financing options ahead of time.
  • If you’re considering purchasing any sort of warranty, make sure you know what it will, and more importantly won’t, cover.
  • Always have a vehicle inspected before you buy. If you can’t do it yourself, you can hire someone locally to do it for you.
  • Communicate with the seller. Ask questions and make sure you get them answered. Be persistent.
  • If you’re uncomfortable, walk away. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Selling online is an attractive option as well. It can be an inexpensive way to get your car in front of a large number of potential buyers. You can help yourself by preparing well.

  • Write a complete description. Be honest and give as many details as you can.
  • Include many photos — eBay recommends 12 minimum (exterior left side, exterior right side, front, rear, top, close-up of wheel, interior front seats, interior back seats, trunk, dashboard and odometer close-up). If the vehicle has any special or outstanding features, be sure to provide good photos.
  • Be available to potential buyers. Answer questions thoroughly and in a timely manner.
  • Price the vehicle right. Be realistic and don’t try to set the price too high. Research price guides for information.
  • If you’re dealing directly with a buyer for payment, be wary. Don’t accept a personal check or money order for a big ticket item.

Caution is key when buying or selling a collector vehicle online. Your computer can be a useful tool if you prepare ahead of time. Many online auctions also have a section on how to buy and sell properly. Make sure to look at all the tips they offer as well as what you find on your own.

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