Selling a car on eBay

  • Affordable, powerful listings with a large potential audience
  • Fair pricing for classified adverts, straightforward advert design tools
  • Buyers of all kinds, very suited to cheap, project or specialist cars

Of all the places you can choose to market your car for sale, eBay has one of the largest audiences going. It’s flexible – to a degree – and reasonably priced, though there’s no free option.

For older used cars it offers the ability to give detailed descriptions and images that you can replace yourself, with no charge, and a safe trading environment without having to hand out your phone number right away.

eBay, a global marketplace for everything - including cars

That wide audience means you get serious buyers, chancers and just plain inexperienced buyers, though, so how you approach selling on eBay really affects your experience.

Selling a car on eBay: the basics

Once a dedicated auction platform with low fees and little interference with sales, eBay is now a global company that seems determined to treat sellers as if they’re suppliers and buyers as if they’re customers of eBay, not the seller – a sort of crowdsourced Amazon rival without the hassle of setting up an Amazon sales account.

The eBay motors catalogue

There’s one exception to this approach; eBay has wisely left the ‘motors’ section alone, allowing vehicle sellers to talk to customers and deal with the tricky issue of say, posting a car with a tracking number, in a different way to most eBay adverts. As such, even if you’ve been put off using eBay for things like second hand smartphones or old games consoles, you’ll find the car sales process very straightforward.

The exception to this is car parts – you can read more about that further down.

How much does it cost to sell on eBay?

Classified adverts on eBay cost £19.99 and there are no final value fees, though buyers can make you an offer via eBay. Auctions and fixed-price (Buy it Now) listings are £14.99, with a final value fee of £25 or 1% of the selling price (whichever is greater), capped at £45 at the time of writing.

This means that selling a car via an eBay auction will cost you £59.99 if it is worth more than £450, before any listing upgrades. Selling via an eBay classified advert costs £19.99 regardless of vehicle value.

Motors listing costs work out as follows:

  • >> Classified advert: £19.99, 28 days duration, can exchange contact details, you end listing when sold
  • >> Auction: £14.99 + final value fees up to £45, up to ten days duration, cannot exchange contact details, listing ends when auction ends
  • >> Fixed-price listing: £14.99 + final value fees, cannot exchange contact details, renews after 30 days (at cost)

If you choose to list as an auction, then use a reserve price, you will pay an additional £9.99; adding Buy it Now to an auction listing costs £5.99, and in all cases adding a full set of 12 high-resolution images with large images in search costs £2.99 – meaning you could spend £33.96 (£14.99 + £2.99 + £9.99 + £5.99) without selling your car at all if you list as an auction with a reserve and BIN while including good images.

Although technically eBay’s auction and fixed-price listings comprise a contract to buy and sell, the reality is most used car buyers neither care, nor respect the difference – just as there is no ‘right to end early’ that can be reserved. As a seller you can select immediate payment required in some cases – but ultimately, you’ve paid your fees and can’t guarantee a sale will go through.

Save yourself money and, avoid all the nonsense; just list as a classified advert unless you have something rare or unusual that you’re confident will do well as a no-reserve auction. You can revise the listing at any time if you feel the price is too high or get a chance to swap the images for better ones, and eBay’s flexibility is great for American and Kit cars that don’t fit normal classified ad formats like AutoTrader.

How to list your car on eBay – a quick guide

First of all, photograph your car following our guide to photographing your car for sale. You can use up to 12 images, which allows for a general view and some extra detail to support your listing.

Save yourself some time and take pictures on your phone, and edit them before putting them on eBay. If you take pictures in the eBay app, it often gets the rotation and crop wrong, so this step will avoid some frustration.

eBay motors classified - gallery and price

Creating your classified advert is simple and can be done on a desktop computer or straight from your smartphone using the eBay app. The tools for making the listing ‘pretty’ are limited, but most buyers just want the basics first and then if you want to try and ‘sell’ the car in prose, that’s up to you.

As well as filling in the fields for Item Specifics – which is well worth it, as it means your car will show in searches where people are looking for features like sunroofs, automatic gearboxes or leather seats even if their search is vague – you should confirm the year made, model, trim level and vague condition (such as ’full MOT’ or ‘project’) in the title.

eBay is very keen on making listings easy to browse and presenting collections - so getting the details of your car right is an easy way to ensure your listing is seen.

eBay motors classified - description

In the first paragraph, state the condition of the car (eBay defaults to helpful phrases like ‘Condition is “Used” ‘; don’t leave that in place – write something helpful for the buyer). A good rule of thumb is “Does it work, does it have MOT, are there any mechanical issues, are there any cosmetic issues”.

eBay listing titles matter

Then list the features that you think make your car worth buying in the next paragraph. Unusual interior colours, upgraded radio or navigation, a comprehensive service history? You don’t need to list all the specification as most buyers will know the basics, but here’s where to really sell your car.

Finally, if you want to be sure your buyer isn’t going to show up and find fault with your car – list anything that is an issue. Some common sense applies, so if it’s a three year old luxury car, it is worth mentioning if a heater control button is worn, or a seat is unusually creased, but on a fifteen year old car, you can probably stick to disclosing things that in an ideal world, you would want to fix yourself.

eBay auction description

There’s no word count, so you don’t need to remember those arcane letters that fill the small ads in newspapers. However, try to avoid amateur dealer phrases like ‘first to see will buy’ or ‘no timewasters’. No timewaster in history has ever looked at an advert for a fancy car they can’t afford and decided ‘oh well, I’d better not try making a stupid offer on it then’.

Avoiding wasted eBay auctions

You can set buyer requirements on a listing, such as no negative listings, or unpaid items, or low feedback. It’s worth doing with car auctions as it prevents people creating new accounts to mess with the value or contact you with no track record.

Closing the deal – making sure your sale completes via eBay

Unless you are a dealer with finance facilities, you want payment by bank transfer or in cash. PayPal isn’t a huge risk, but it is sometimes possible for funds to be reclaimed after a sale - avoid it for car transactions unless you really trust your trading partner.

It is useful for accepting deposits, particularly if you’re kind enough to offer a refundable deposit to buyers.

Classified adverts are the best – you can get phone calls or texts if you don’t want to use email, and eBay won’t prevent people sending you offers or asking you to call them. If you get an offer that sounds genuine just arrange for them to view the car (respecting any safety concerns, such as lockdowns, in force at the time) and carry on as if you were selling through any other route.

Once your car has sold you can end the listing with no more fees to pay.

Auctions are the trickiest. eBay doesn’t like buyers and sellers talking, so be circumspect when allowing viewing of a car before sale. If the car sells without contact from a buyer, send a polite message straight away congratulating them, and offer some convenient times for them to pay and collect. eBay will usually refund final value fees if a buyer doesn’t show, but not listing fees.

Fixed-price listings can, on occasion, end with a buyer hitting Buy it Now then disappearing. For the most part, once an offer is accepted or BIN taken they are like auctions, but you can limit the chances of this happening and losing your listing fees by not accepting offers without talking to the buyer first, and turning on ‘immediate payment required’.

In all cases, never allow unaccompanied test drives, always ask to see proof of insurance before allowing anyone to drive your car on the road (at the very least, third-party extension cover for driving other vehicles – in which case check the licence and policyholder match, as it usually doesn’t cover named drivers), and check payments have gone through before releasing the car.

See our guide to selling your car for more details, including how to transfer ownership.

Selling car parts on eBay

If you have parts or accessories, listings act the same way as a normal auction – though this does mean you can sometimes get free listings and capped final value fees at £1 or £2, which is well worth doing – as the standard final value fee is 10%, capped at a maximum of £250. eBay provides lists of makes and models to help you list your part for the right car, and we recommend, if breaking a car, to list parts you have removed, clearly photographed, rather than the vague ‘99p wheel nut’ listings you often see.

All figures correct at time of writing: for the latest eBay fees check these pages.

Further reading from Parkers:

>> Best used cars for under £1,000

>> How to change the registered keeper of a car

>> Get a free car valuation