Buying a car on Ebay - the essential guide

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There are a lot of guides on Ebay about questions to ask, things to look for and so on.  This isn't one of those.  If, like me, you have an interest in cars but are a bit baffled by the oily bits, might I suggest this simple five-point guide to buying a car without tears?

1.  If you are seriously thinking of buying a car worth several thousand pounds on Ebay - get it professionally inspected.  Use DEKRA for cars up to 10 years old and the IAAM (Dekra will put you on to them) for older cars.  They will see things you will not.  They test hundreds of cars and they know what to look for. They will check it's history and everything about the car.  Their most expensive report costs £300. 
If it shows your dream car is a dog or a diamond, it's money very well spent.  Never, ever buy a car without a report; only once the report gives it the all clear, then go and look.

2. Look at the car before handing over the readies. Otherwise, give the money to charity - they're more deserving and you clearly have no need for it.

3. Legally, the 'offer' in your auction bid is binding.  But only if you have bid on the car offered.  If the car is said to be " excellent", that does not mean very good, or good or fair - it means excellent and that's what you are entitled to expect. 

4. You are not obliged to inspect the car before bidding to make sure the seller has described the car accurately - that's their job.  If it does not meet the description, then you are entitled to walk away - but you might want to think twice about pre-inspection deposits.

5. Photos of the car might be helpful, but in terms of the condition of the interior and bodywork they are a very poor guide.  Photos just do not show up marks and dings and scrapes and even the most cack-handed photographer can make any dog of car look good in a digital photo.

I've saved myself thousands of pounds by following these basic steps and not buying cars I really wanted before I investigated them.  I hope you do too.
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