Buying a car is a huge investment. Not only is it a lot of money to exchange, but a car is a literal lifeline for many families: whether it’s for dropping the kids off to school, getting you safely to/from work, or doing the grocery run, your car plays a significant role in your daily life.
Because a car is such an important commodity, it’s vital to take care when shopping for the right one.
Rather than fork over thousands for a new car that loses its value the second you drive it off the lot, many buyers prefer to pick up used cars, and Facebook Marketplace is rapidly becoming the place to do it.
What Is Facebook Marketplace?
Facebook brought out the Marketplace function in 2016 to respond to users using the social media site to buy and sell goods at an increasing frequency. While there have been specific buying/selling groups on Facebook for a long time, the Marketplace made it easier for users to put up an ad for potential buyers to browse. It also enhanced the ability to list information about your goods and get in touch with buyers or sellers for further details or agree on terms of sale.
How Does Facebook Marketplace Work?
Once you’ve made it to the Marketplace section of Facebook (look for the storefront icon), you can browse listings in your local area for almost any second-hand item. From women’s shoes to baby products and, yes, cars, Facebook Marketplace is a haven for shoppers searching for a bargain and makes a quick and convenient location for sellers to list their goods.
The Marketplace has many benefits, but the one that sets it above other options for second-hand shopping sites (such as Craigslist) is the lack of anonymity: the listing connects you to another human being via their Facebook page.
This ability to put a face to a listing can help you decide whether the seller (or buyer) is trustworthy, and lets you make a connection before anything else is exchanged.
Although a Facebook page isn’t sufficient for you to fully decide whether you can trust someone, it can help bridge that first gap.
The Pros And Cons
Facebook Marketplace is no doubt making big waves in the vehicle exchange industry. Before you go ahead and click that “contact seller” button, it’s worth considering the pros and cons of shopping on a social media site.
One of the biggest pros to using Facebook Marketplace to buy and sell goods is convenience. You can access Marketplace anywhere, at any time, without ever needing to leave the app. It’s fast and easy to navigate, particularly when compared to competitors such as Craigslist, and it’s considered to be relatively safe as sellers aren’t anonymous. You can also see if the seller has anything else for sale, how long they’ve been selling on Marketplace, and even read reviews from other buyers. The service is also free to use, with no transaction fees.
One of the main cons of Marketplace is also one of its biggest pros: it’s a community based on trust. No matter how many protections Facebook puts on its Marketplace, there will always be someone abusing the system. Because of this, it’s still essential to do plenty of research before going ahead with a transaction. “Buyer Beware” is king here.
What Should I Look At When Buying A Car On Facebook Marketplace?
If you’re comfortable with the risks of picking up a second-hand vehicle via the social media giant’s Marketplace, it’s still important to be careful when buying any used car.
One of the most important things to look at is the car’s MOT history to establish its proper condition.
Knowing what is and isn’t a red flag on an MOT is essential when it comes to buying a used car. For example, a worn tire should not be raising your suspicions, but significant system failures could be a warning sign!
You can run free and fast checks on any used vehicle with just the reg number (which the seller should provide you with if it’s not evident from the pictures). This will give you a basic history of the vehicle, and you can check to see whether it matches the image of the car the seller has built.
Look out for the following warning signs that could show up on a basic car history check, as these can suggest something isn’t quite right either with the car or the seller:
- The plates have been changed with no paperwork.
- The estimated mileage is significantly higher than what the vehicle is displaying.
- The car is recorded on the salvage register (and the seller doesn’t have the appropriate documents).
Once you’ve run a free car history check, it’s also worth running a more thorough investigation against the car. Again, all you’ll need is the reg plate to do this, plus a small fee.
This more thorough check will go into far more detail about the vehicle’s background, including more information such as how many previous owners the car has been registered to and whether it’s been registered as stolen by the police. You may also be able to see the vehicle’s value, so you know you’re paying a fair price.
Test Drive The Vehicle
Once you’ve run your checks and are confident that the car is in the condition you expected and hasn’t been registered as stolen, it’s vital to go for a test drive before paying any money to the seller.
If the seller isn’t happy for you to test drive the car before buying, this is a major red flag.
It’s a good idea to bring a friend with you when test driving a used car, preferably one that knows a bit about cars! Not only will your friend be able to offer a second opinion, but studies have shown it’s far harder to deceive a buyer when there’s another person present.
The seller will most likely want to come with you for the test drive. This is understandable as they need to trust you as a buyer just as much as you need to trust them! That said, don’t let them put on music or the radio as this could drown out concerning noises the car makes.
After the test drive, compare notes with your friend, and against the car history checks, you ran before driving the car. If you’re happy, you can go ahead with the sale. If you have any reason for concern, it’s generally better to walk away.
As with anything in this world, a deal that feels “too good to be true” probably is. And being sure to do thorough research before parting with your cash is vital when it comes to getting a great deal and a vehicle you can rely on.