Facebook Marketplace has been growing in prominence now for several years. Facebook began pushing sales of used vehicles on its platform in 2017. Since then Marketplace has increased tremendously, and I now view it as a better vehicle marketplace than Craigslist.
But just because the automotive marketplace on Facebook has grown considerably does not necessarily mean that you should be using it to purchase cars. Anyone who has used Craigslist remembers the flood of annoying text messages, phone calls and emails that would arrive within an hour of posting your advertisement, or the “to good to be true” cars for sale that were priced at suspiciously rock bottom prices. How is Facebook Marketplace in comparison to Craigslist’s scam/spam issues and can it be trusted as a reliable resource for purchasing cars?
Overall, it is safe to buy cars on Facebook Marketplace. Anonymity is reduced compared to Craigslist, the risk of scam emails and phone calls is vastly reduced, and if you take a few precautions you can nearly eliminate the safety concerns that many people have when meeting someone through Craigslist.
This is my second article on the topic of Facebook Marketplace, if you want to check out the first it focuses on how to sell cars on Facebook Marketplace.
Reduced Worry About Sketchy Meetings
In the age of Craigslist where anybody could post an ad selling something and anyone could respond, caution was an important concern for both parties. The common wisdom was to agree only to meet in a public place and preferably bring a ride-along for the purchase. I am not in any way suggesting that Craigslist was inherently dangerous for buyers and sellers, I bought and sold hundreds of various things on Craigslist over the years. However, because of users ability to maintain anonymity on Craigslist, security was a significantly greater concern with this platform.
Facebook is an enormous improvement in this regard for potential buyers. Although, I am not saying that Facebook Marketplace is a full-proof security screener and you can ignore warning signs to skip over a seller, I am saying that Marketplace does an excellent job in removing the “anonymity” that was found on Craigslist.
How does Facebook do that? By forcing all parties that want to use the Marketplace feature to have a Facebook profile. Of course, this will not stop people from setting up fake profiles, but luckily they are relatively easy to spot.
Reduced Risk That Your Phone/Email Will Be Compromised
With Craigslist it was fairly easy to spot the spammy ads. The price would be way to cheap, and the language used in the ad would be really odd. However, people still contacted these spam advertisements every day in the hopes of getting a great deal. The result is that your email and/or your phone could be placed on a spam marketing list. This is where a lot of those B.S spam calls from around the country originate from.
Enter Facebook Marketplace, no phone/email required! Although you can choose to exchange emails/phone numbers, you don’t need to and I would not recommend it. Marketplace makes use of the Facebook Messenger so you can contact the seller and setup a meeting entirely through messenger.
Cons to Buying Cars on Facebook Marketplace
The biggest con I see with Marketplace is inherent in the “yard sale like” platform Marketplace uses. Its very much a “buyer beware” market and there is nothing you can do to eliminate the risk of fraud except by purchasing new from a car dealership. Marketplace in some ways has less protections than Ebay because it does not offer protection to buyers against fraud.
That being said, that is why I recommend these various tips to help ensure that you have a good buying experience on Facebook Marketplace!
Tips for Buying on Facebook Marketplace
1) Check out how old the seller’s profile is.
When you look at a Marketplace ad you will see a limited “about info” section on the seller. Take a look at how long the seller has been a member of Facebook. Stay away from accounts that have just been activated as this can indicate a scam.
2) Be Wary of Misleading Dealership Advertising
Not all used car dealers are snakes but enough of them are so you need to be aware of some misleading tactics that I see on Marketplace. Used car dealers sometimes post a to good to be true price in their advertisements, but when you arrive at the dealership you discover that this is the monthly payment price!
I was just browsing Facebook Marketplace a few hours ago and came across this:
This dealer is advertising a Maserati for $900. Yeah it’s a 2005, but it only has 85,000 miles! There is no chance the dealer is actually offering this car for $900, he is only trying to sucker people in by dangling a misleadingly low price.
Another thing to be wary about with dealership advertisements is whether the price they are advertising is the true price, or whether there are numerous additional fees to be added on. This is something I prefer to confirm before I go out and see the car. Any reputable used car dealer will have a publicly listed telephone number that you can call. If the salesman will not give you a straight answer with additional fees you should drop him and move on.
3) Lots of buyers use Kelley Blue Book to comparison shop. Facebook now partners with Kelley Blue Book and gives sellers the option to post how their vehicle compares to the average in Kelley Blue Book.
It’s a cool tool, but I still strongly advise you to go on Kelley Blue Book yourself and do your own research. Even if a seller does not intentionally put their vehicle into a higher condition category than it is, many sellers will inadvertently do this. So when you put in the information yourself its important that you give the condition an honest evaluation. Most vehicles with 100,000 miles + are going to be in “fair” condition or even lower, unless the previous owner has taken excellent care of the vehicle.
4) Miscellaneous tips that are relevant to any private vehicle purchase include:
1) Verify the title/ownership
2) Verify the VIN number
3) Get the vehicle inspected,
4) Test drive the vehicle
5) Get a bill of sale
I hope that this article helped you out in considering vehicles to purchase on Facebook Marketplace. I have bought and sold several vehicles on Marketplace now and have really enjoyed the experience, If you keep these tips in mind I am certain that you will to!