How to Buy a Car Online: Cautionary Tales


Don’t Let This Happen to You the Next Time You Buy a Car Online

Cars On Line depends on users having good experiences while buying and selling collector cars, which is why it’s very troubling to hear stories like the one that follows.

A recent user, who is a disabled veteran, bought a 1962 Chevy II Pro Street.  He was warned by friends to “never buy a car off the internet,” and thought he was being careful when he decided to proceed with the transaction. He made some critical errors though, which allowed an unscrupulous seller to take advantage of him.

First of all, he did not order a pre-purchase inspection before buying this car.  Every time you buy a collector car it is a “buyer  be ware” situation. Once you buy it you own it, so it is up to you to make sure that the car is everything you want it to be. While a pre-purchase inspection will not find everything wrong on a car, it will give you an idea of the condition of the car as well as the value.

Here’s a list of what was reported to be wrong with the 1962 Chevy II Pro Street once the buyer took possession of it:
1. The front tire was rubbing the fender
2. Shifter linkage was hanging down by one bolt
3. The wrong flexplate (flywheel) had been installed to the motor, causing extreme vibrations
4. No distributor hold down or bolt
5. Alpine stereo was not functional
6. The driveshaft was too short and did not connect properly with the transmission
7. The rear coil over the shock mount was rubbing the rear tire
8. The switch fell out of the dash
9. Steering wheel fell off the column while driving
10. No fuel cell venting system causes a pervasive gas smell
11. Fit and finish on hood, trunk and fender was not done properly
12. Fine scratches not apparent in the photos
13. Doors would not close properly, and had hinge screws loose.

None of these issues were mentioned in the ad, or at any point during discussions with the seller. Ten out of the thirteen problems mentioned above could have been discovered during a pre-purchase inspection. That might have been enough to call the sale in question, and the buyer might not have gotten into this deal. He wishes now that he had had the car inspected. Click here to read more about the Cars On Line Inspection Service.

Secondly, we always recommend that buyers should use a Bill of Sale when buying a collector car. We believe it is inexcusable that some sellers choose to misrepresent vehicles they are selling.  When you use a Bill of Sale to complete the transaction you can incorporate some safeguards which will identify the seller’s responsibilities.

A Bill of Sale is in itself an agreement between the buyer and the seller.  It can include any representations that are being made by the seller. It has both the buyer and seller’s signatures, and is a legally binding document. Lawyers love documents, and you’ll need this one if you should decide you were misled while buying a collector car. To learn more about using a Bill of Sale, click here!

Buying a car online doesn’t have to be a nightmare, or turn into one afterward. But there are a few more steps necessary to make the transaction as safe as an in-person transaction. Be aware of these steps, and don’t cut any corners.  The Cars On Line How to Buy a Classic Car Online series is meant to arm you with the knowledge to make any online sale a smooth and seamless one.  Click the link to read several articles about how to buy collector cars. They will make you think, and make you a smarter buyer.

CLICK HERE to read more How to Buy a Classic Car Online installments!



  1. How to Buy a Classic Car Online - blog cars on line - February 10, 2015

    […] A CARS ON LINE CAUTIONARY TALE Cars On Line wants a good experience for all our users, but here’s a rare negative experience that could teach you about what to look for when buying a car online. […]

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