Buying a car online might seem like a risky proposition. If you follow some sensible precautions, though, it can be quick, convenient and a great way to find a real bargain.
Buying and selling can be done via free classified ads sites and paid for ones too. There are also online auction sites. With any website that are selling cars, you will always find unscrupulous individuals looking to make money without actually selling you a car. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the beast, but depending on which site you use, you'll have a degree of protection. Sites that provide more space for photographs and other information, will give you a better idea of the vehicle's condition.
Before you buy, arm yourself with some research on the kind of price you can expect to pay for the sort of car that you're looking for. There are various websites that can help you to do this. You can also review completed listings on other sites to see what price the car's finally sold for. This will give you a good idea of the usual price range.
A reputable seller will normally take full advantage of the extra space offered by a website to post lots of pictures of the interior and exterior of the car, along with extensive descriptions. Honest sellers will include photographs of any rust, dents, scratches or other damage to the car so that you can make an informed decision. Be extremely wary of listing with only a few images, especially if they look as if they were lifted from a catalogue rather than taken by an ordinary person.
You should be especially cautious of any listings that are priced much lower than you would normally expect, especially if the car is very new. These are almost certainly fake. There will usually be some kind of cover story - the seller has debts or financial obligations he must discharge immediately, the seller is moving abroad shortly and needs a quick sale - in an attempt to explain away the unusually low price and win sympathy for the seller. Don't fall for these yarns, however, as they are classic signs of a scam.
Never forget to run an HPI check on any car you wish to buy. When you buy, you become the legal owner of the car so you must make sure it has a clean history. Some sites offer inexpensive checks of the cars listed, to ensure that they have been come by legally. If not, there are sites and companies that can do this.
Some sites require that buyers and sellers register a unique user ID with the site. The user's profile has records of their buying and selling history, including how long they've been a member of the site and what feedback they have received from other users. If you see that a seller has received one or two pieces of negative feedback in the past, you can take a look and see how the dispute was handled. This will give you a good idea of how the seller is likely to respond if any problems come up.
As well as sellers with large amounts of negative feedback, you should be wary of sellers who have only registered very recently, especially if they somehow have large amounts of positive feedback. Online criminals employ shills and multiple accounts to artificially boost their feedback rating. A long-standing profile with just a little negative feedback is much more reliable than a new profile with no feedback or only positive ratings.