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Old 02-13-2002, 01:06 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: NW Arkansas
Posts: 179
Ebay and buying a car sight unseen - Experiences

I'm looking at a couple of cars on Ebay and wonder what other people's experiences have been buying a car sight unseen.

And, what types of questions would you ask the seller prior to bidding and purchasing.

I've bought other items off ebay, but never a car.

I'm looking at a 1982 and 1985 300d.


1994 C280 204k miles
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Old 02-13-2002, 01:17 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 142
Bought two...

one from a Yahoo auction and one from e-bay. Both times I bought the car after the auction was over and reserve not met. Disadvantage of this is you don't get the "protections" provided by e-bay - of course, I have no idea if those are worth anything at all. I have had good experience both times - no inspections by me or an expert. But you gotta like gambling to do this - all the experts recommend spending the money to get a pro to eval. I don't think I'd tempt fate a third time. Both of my cars were "fairly" completely disclosed in terms of flaws. Of course, I did run carfax checks prior to purchase. This is not fool proof but it has stopped me from pursuing a couple cars with funny histories.
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Old 02-13-2002, 04:05 PM
Posts: n/a
Thumbs down

Recently purchased a 420SEL on ebay from a dealer in Palm Beach. Bad news- car was greatly misrepresented. Have had to spend over $4000 on repairs.

Am currently pursuing litigation as the car was not as advertised.

Would strongly urge you to spend the money and have the car thoroughly checked out by a good Mercedes mechanic in the area where the car is located.

Good luck
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Old 02-13-2002, 04:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
I've never bought a car sight unseen, but I recall when I originally registered for E-bay that they do have a car inspection service, or they give you the names of companies that do it for you.

I look at the cars on E-bay a lot, and would probably consider buying one, but only at the right price, and only after getting it inspected so I know what I'm getting into.

They also have an escrow service, which you pay a fee for, but it definitely sounds worth it. If you don't get the merchandise you bid on, or if its not as presented, I believe the seller doesn't get his money.

Also, if you are looking for a late model car, say W124, W126 or newer, why wouldn't you just look locally since there should be many examples within a reasonable driving distance. However, if you are looking for something older, hard to find, etc., then one may have no choice but to buy at an auction or sight unseen.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 02-13-2002, 06:50 PM
Posts: n/a
I bought the TE for $7500 in good condition. It was misrepresented and I had to do the heads, radiator, front end and a few other's it was over 3K in work.

So that brings the price to 10K-11K. It is still a good deal.

I had in inspected by lemon-busters and they missed a ton of stuff.
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Old 02-13-2002, 07:18 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Western Mass.
Posts: 324
I bought my 95 E300 on E-bay. It was represented and delivered with no problem. The car is what the car is, it's the person your dealing with. Call the local Better business bureau if your buying from a dealer. If the price is too far off the car is also probably too far off.

03 C240 4matic wagon
95 300E 234,000
7 prior 240;s 5 still going
81 300sd gone
65 230sl gone
49 Studebaker Champion
90BMW convert.167,000
60 Dodge D-100
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Old 02-13-2002, 09:06 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 1,193
Personally, I would never buy a car without having driven it first, and having it inspected. That being said, the more photos and detail in the item description the better. Someone who takes the time to detail and explain every little fault will likely be more trust worthy. On the other hand honesty is not your only concern. You don't know the person who is selling the car and even if they are honest they may not have a clue what is wrong with their car (muffler about to fall off, that squeek and crunch they have lived with so long they forgot to mention it). Do you live in a major city? I would suspect if you do there will be plenty of 300Ds for sale near you that you can actually inspect and drive before you buy. Probably won't cost any more either.
Jason Priest
1999 E430
1995 E420 - retired
1986 420SEL - retired
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Old 02-13-2002, 09:42 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18,355
I live in the USA. I bought a 1984 Mercedes 307d motorhome in the UK off an internet ad which did not have a picture. I am very happy with the purchase. I think the key is to evaluate the seller as much as you are evaluating the vehicle. I trusted the seller and I thought he was honest. I would be very leary buying from a dealer in similar circumstances. Someone mentioned the problem that the seller, while honest, may not have the ability to give a good mechanical assessment of the vehicle. In my case, the price was vey good, I like taking gambles now and again, and even if it was a complete bust, I was only out $1800.
I did not lack my doubts. Try buying a transatlantic airline ticket and travelling halfway around the world to pick up a vehicle you have never seen. A lot of my friends thought I was nuts. Imagine my relief when the taxi pulled up to the campground and there the vehicle sat in quite good condition. (The owner had already moved to Spain so I never actually met him. The corner newsagent store was holding the keys and registration for me)
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Old 02-13-2002, 09:48 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 12,566
I purchased the 300D by finding it on ebay. The guy lived about 5 miles from me. It was as advertised and is a good running car.
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Old 02-13-2002, 10:30 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: New York/New Jersey
Posts: 83
Although I am not a dealer I have sold several cars over the years on ebay. So far everybody has been completely satisfied. Not to mention I post no pictures whatsoever. I guess there is a certain trust factor involved. On the other hand I find most so called dealers to be very coy about what they are selling. I guess the expression is true " You get what you pay for !" Two most recent people bought Benzes from me a 1978 280CE and a 1988 300TE. Hopefully soon my 1987 560SEC will end up on ebay unless I have any interested parties here ! Just do your homework and be a good judge of character and you will find many good deals on ebay sight unseen.
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Old 02-13-2002, 10:39 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: NW Arkansas
Posts: 179
Both of the cars I'm looking at seem to be priced fair at the moment. I'm sure the bids will start driving the prices up, but at the moment, not too bad.

I'll look into the E-bay assurance program and their inspection service, good advice, thanks.

I'm too far from a good source of MB's in the model/price range I'm looking for...1982 - 1985 300d's with less than 200k miles.

I'm constantly checking and using Yahoo! to search through classifieds.

Also I'm trying to figure out where the cost of the vehicle plus any "surprises" that might arise will hit a point where it's not a good deal any more.

Thanks for everyone's input.
1994 C280 204k miles
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Old 02-13-2002, 11:09 PM
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Another View. . .
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Mark West, CA
Posts: 787
Arrow Bought Mine On ebaY...

It was a whim. I had looked at local cars and they were overpriced crap. The seller was in my area, and the pictures looked good.

First, start with Kelley Blue Book and NADA for values on the cars you are looking at. Don't bid over what they are worth including transportation to you. I usually add high retail and low trade-in together and divide by two. That gives you an average fair market value.

Ask about service records, check the VIN with a local MB dealer for the service history, see when the car was last serviced, and ask if the car comes with the original owner's manual and toolkit.

My car ('82 300SD) was a good value for the price. However, when I took it to my local indie MB tech, he found $6,000.00 worth of repairs that he felt needed doing. I disagreed, installed a $150.00 CD deck myself, had him do a valve adjust, valve cover gasket, and replace all of the glowplugs. His repairs cost me about $300.00. It runs great, and I still haven't figured out what he meant when he said that my car needed new "thrust mounts". No one else here knows either...

Also, there was a good point made earlier. You can sometimes get a great deal from someone who didn't sell their car because of too high of an opening bid, or their reserve was not met. Make them an offer. Check the seller's feedback, references, and stay within the value of the car. Don't get over-anxious! Remember, used cars are like buses. The next one will be along shortly...
"We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror."
- Marshall McLuhan -

Scott Longston
Northern California Wine Country...
"Turbos whistle, grapes wine..."
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Old 02-14-2002, 12:15 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Alexandria, Virginia
Posts: 5,450
I've looked at many automobiles on Ebay.
Over the past year, I've been tempted to bid on 4 Mercedes, but not without first, seeing them in person.

Happy Motoring,
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Old 02-14-2002, 07:50 AM
Posts: n/a
sight unseen

I'd never buy a car on E-Bay, but I just bought a 240 sight unseen. On E-Bay, you really don't have time for anyone to do an inspection before the bidding is up. (It could possibly work out to have enough time, but chances are slim.). The car I just bought I had a dealer do a thorough Pre Purchase Inspection on it, including compression tests and leak-down. I got the recommendation for this inspector from the local MBCA member (I just e-mailed him). I talked to the inspector by phone 4 times, and realized that he knew what he was talking about. He gave me a list of problems that was fairly complete (I since found one small rust spot that he missed). With the inspection in hand, I could make a reasonable offer to the owner, which he ultimately accepted. I flew out, and final purchase was contingent on my starting the car and driving it around the block. No problem--it was exactly as the inspector had said. Within 30 minutes, I was in the car, starting the 1000 mile drive back home.

There's no way I could have done any of this through e-bay.

The dealer, by the way, was Silver Star Imports in Edmond, OK.
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Old 02-14-2002, 10:32 AM
Posts: n/a
Thumbs up

1st time poster and MB owner. Received my '89 300E last weekend from Ebay auction. The dealer (Delray Bch FL) puts excellent pictures up, has a good rep, (I checked with everyone who left feedback to see if they're still happy) and sells most cars for way more than mine. MB, Mercedes, Porche, Ferrari etc, average price 30 to 50K. The complete records show the original owner not only had every recommneded service but many 1 to 2 thou before it was needed! Dealer seemed honest, feedback was great, carfax and records confirmed a genuine 66,000 miles, so I went for it!

The bid was at 4K with 5 days to go, so I offered him 7,500 to close the auction. Turned me down, thought he could get over 9. So I sniped it with 30 seconds to go for 7,100. If there wasn't one other eager bidder ahead of me, I could have got it for 6,600.

I have had bad experiences with remote control inspections in the past, so I decided to just bring the car over, because I could always sell it for more here in Phoenix. Yes, I totally lucked out. Car looks like it's two years old. Cosmetic flaws are a rock chip on the hood (disclosed in pic on eBay) one minor ding and minute front chips. I mean that is it! My neighbors literally thought I'd bought a brand new car. Mechanically it drives like a new car too, tight, responsive, perfectly balanced. The only surprize negatively is a bit of an oil leak. Front engine, from middle or bottom (not timing chain cover). I've never been a fanatic about oil leaks on my cars as long as they drip straight down and are not excessive. Based on what I've read on the forum, leaking is not unusual, it looks like I'll probably be doing valve seals sometime in the future.

I'd like to thank the boards for helping me define which model to buy and great tips. I look forward to more.

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