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Tips and advice

How to sell your car on eBay

eBay is a popular site to sell your car online – here are our top tips for a smooth sale

Selling car on eBay motors using laptop

While it's best known as a site to sell old furniture or to find a clothing bargain, eBay is also a popular destination for buying and selling used cars online. With a strong user base and the option to set a fixed price or run an auction, it offers a simple car-selling service at a reasonable cost. 

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Part of eBay’s appeal lies in its feedback scoring system that allows both buyers and sellers to check a user’s reputation on the platform, providing added peace of mind for both parties. While it's relatively safe and easy to use, there are still several things to watch out for, and techniques to maximise the appeal of your listing. 

Read on for our tips to confidently, and effectively, marketing your car on eBay. If you’re still uncertain whether you want to sell your car privately, read our full advice article on selling your car, which covers everything from part-exchanging to selling online.

Why should I sell my car on eBay?

eBay offers some key advantages over rival classified sites, primarily its auction system. This allows buyers to compete for the top bid to buy your car. While the final outcome is hard to predict, you can set a reserve price – a minimum price that the bidding must reach in order for your car to sell. This ensures that you get a price that you’re happy with, while the final bid has the potential to exceed this.

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eBay also offers classified fixed price listings, with ‘buy it now’ and ‘best offer’ options. As a seller, you list your car at a price you’re happy with and wait for a buyer to purchase the car or send you an offer.

When should I sell my car on eBay?

eBay tends to have a strong user base all year, so it shouldn’t make a difference when you decide to sell your car – although you may find there’s more demand for your car if you’re selling a convertible in summer or a 4x4 in winter.

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To get the most people looking at your listing, and create a higher rate of interest you will want to make sure that it goes live and ends when people are using the platform the most. Don’t have an auction end during weekday working hours as bidding is usually at its highest frequency just before an auction ends. You want as many people to be involved as possible. Aim to list your car at the weekend. Most auctions run for exactly one week, so it will handily end at the weekend, too.

How much does it cost to sell a car on eBay?

The fees for selling a car on eBay are different to regular listings for other items, such as clothes or electronics. The fees also differ between classified listings and auctions, with additional costs for extra features.

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At the time of writing, a final value fee of 1% of the transaction price is applicable to all listings except classified ads, with a minimum fee of £25 and maximum of £45.

Classified ads have the highest listing fee of £19.99, while both auction and fixed price listings have a listing fee of £14.99.

You pay additional fees for adding an upgraded gallery, which is £2.99, or a subtitle costing £0.49. Adding a ‘buy it now’ function to your auctions costs £5.99 and there’s also a charge of £9.99 if you choose to set a reserve.

Choosing between classified and auction listings

If you decide to put your car up for sale on eBay, you’ll need to choose whether you list it as a regular classified ad, or as an auction. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and the right one for you largely depends on the car you are selling, how quickly you want it to sell, and how much risk you are willing to take.

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There are many reasons that you might list your car on eBay as an auction item, but perhaps the greatest is the prospect of buyers getting caught up in a bidding frenzy and taking your car way beyond the figure you had in mind.

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Another might be that you actually don't have a figure in mind in the first place. While there are myriad used-car valuation services out there, older cars and those with less mainstream appeal can be very hard to accurately price. So, listing it at auction is a good way to ensure it sells for whatever the buying public thinks it's worth.

If you are concerned your vehicle might not sell for as much as you want, you can always set a reserve price. The key is to keep your expectations fair. Remember that auctions that are in the closing stages and have met a reserve can be more active than those where the reserve has yet to be achieved. However, an auction with a reserve is the priciest listing option on eBay, costing £24.98, plus the 1% final value fee.

Classified ads are a sensible option if you already know the market value of your car and you can price it accordingly. They’re also less risky than putting your car up for auction with no reserve – there’s no chance that it will sell for less than you hoped.

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A classified ad is also a good idea if the car you’re selling is particularly rare or unusual. A week-long auction may pass by before a potential buyer finds it, whereas a classified ad stays on the site for much longer. This opens your ad to a wider audience over time, and you may find a buyer willing to pay your asking price.

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This can also cut out potential time wasters – if someone wins your auction and doesn’t show up, you’ll have to make eBay aware and relist the item. With a classified ad, you can leave it live on eBay until the buyer drives the car away.

Listing your car on eBay

While eBay’s ‘listing designer’ allows you to create an ad with all sorts of artistic styles, the truth is that nothing is more effective than a few lines of accurate, well chosen text.

When writing your description, keep it short but informative. Buyers don’t want to sift through paragraphs of text just to find out key information, so we recommend getting the vital details into the first few lines.

Feel free to use bullet points if it makes this information easier to read. Service history, mileage, length of MOT, number of owners, and any recorded accidents or finance are crucial to buyers. Also state any modifications on the vehicle and that you have the logbook in your name. If selling for a friend or family member, make it clear you have the right to sell the car. 

Next it is best to state any optional extras and give a general description of the car, if there are scratches, stone chips, scuffs, and marks on the wheels, followed by any marks on the interior. Remember to be honest. A buyer is more likely to pull out of a sale if they inspect the car and it’s not as described. The auction requires them to buy the vehicle, but it is on the condition that it is as described, so take time to make sure you are as accurate as possible.

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Finally, provide more detail about the vehicle's servicing, and any recent work that has been done. If it had new tyres or brakes at the last MOT then say so, and if you’ve just spent a large amount of money then explain what was done. This can make potential bidders more confident they are getting a car that won't need immediate remedial work.

If you're unsure of a spelling, look it up first. Listing your car as a Citron instead of a Citroen could mean it won't show in eBay users' search results. Keep the font a sensible size, and don't write in all capital letters. Black text is generally preferred to other colours, and there's no need to add a decorative frame or any other effects – let your words and photos do the talking.

Photographing your car for eBay

The key to good listing photos is clarity. Your car should be clearly presented, in good weather and lighting and photographed in landscape orientation. Cleaning your car inside and out will make it more attractive to buyers and give the impression that it’s been well cared for.

It’s a good idea to include exterior photos from the front, front quarter, sides, rear and rear quarter. If you’re unsure, find another car listing online from a reputable car dealer and mimic the angles they take a picture from. It’s worth including close-up photos of any defects, damage and rust, too, to give buyers the most accurate impression of your car. It’s not a bad idea to take a picture of each wheel as well.

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Don’t forget to photograph the interior – include the seats, centre console, dashboard and the instrument cluster (with the mileage indicator if possible).

If you don’t have the space outside your home, take your car to the local park or even the far end of a supermarket car park with a plain wall or some bushes in the background – this will make it easier to photograph. It is also safer, as the last thing you want to do is give your location away to a local thief that may recognise your street or area, especially if the car is particularly rare or sporty.

What to watch out for when selling on eBay

While most buyers and sellers use eBay without issue, not everybody has a rewarding experience. The decision to sell your car by an online auction isn't one to be made lightly, but exercising a little care and caution will make it a lot easier.

Beware of buyers with low ratings. They may have a history of failing to pay or trying to haggle once they’ve won an auction, both of which are frustrating and against eBay’s terms. eBay allows you to filter out low-rating buyers from your auction, so this is a feature worth turning on.
Unfortunately,  it’s not uncommon for scammers to try and take advantage of unaware sellers on eBay. Always check a buyer’s rating, and ignore any buyer who asks for personal information, or whether you’re willing to ship the car overseas. If you suspect you have been scammed on eBay, contact their security centre.

If you are still deciding between eBay motors and another way of selling then check out our guide on the best way to sell your car.

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