I'm a pretty conservative person and I don't mean in the political sense but in how I live my life. I don't take a lot of chances that I don't calculate out in my engineering mind to be in my favor. I suppose that can be considered a good trait to have but I don't like it and always admire those who seem to be less uninhibited when it comes to making some of the larger decisions in life. This is why when a coworker bought a truck off eBay all the way across the country a while back, I became fascinated.
I accidentally walked in on a conversation he was having with another coworker about the truck and so was let onto the story though not given many of the details. Being the cyber snoop that I am, I logged onto eBay and soon found out all the information I wanted such as how much he paid for the truck, etc. I'm not into that kind of thing but it got me to thinking about the act of buying a car over eBay. I have bought six cars in the past, two new and the rest used. When buying a used car, I generally just walk through the used car lots nearby or answer classified ads and when I see one I like, I test drive it, kick the proverbial tires and buy it. I'm not a mechanic and don't know much about the stuff so if it starts up, runs without knocks, clangs, or thuds, I assume it is okay. However, this method has the major drawback that you don't have a lot to choose from and you have to be vigilant because popular cars tend to disappear quickly. EBay on the other hand, only sells cars by timed auctions so you know when they will disappear and you have virtually millions of cars to choose between to find one that is exactly like what you want. The one drawback is that you have to buy the car sight unseen.
My coworker did this but when I found his ad, I saw several dozen high-resolution pictures so virtually every angle of the truck. I felt as if I had been there and kicked the tires. The only thing I couldn't see from the pictures was how the engine sounded. In my entire vehicle buying life, I have never started up a car for sale where the engine or transmission sounded like crap so I began to think that perhaps my coworker was onto something. When he told me how reasonable it was to pay for someone to haul the car by trailer all the way to Iowa, I really started paying attention. On the spur of the moment, I typed in the made and model of a vehicle that my wife has coveted for a long time.
My wife has wanted a CR-V for many years. I am pretty much anti SUV, even the small ones, but she will be working at a job soon that will bring in about as much money into our home as my job works. So despite my reservations, I have been looking through ads for a while in our local area but the CR-V's were few and far between and usually newer than what she wanted. She didn't like the newer ones and wanted one in the 1998 to 2001 vintage. Her current car which we bought for a song and has seen its better days, I didn't like driving anymore because it just felt unsafe. It was a Chevy and just hasn't aged as gracefully as my three year older Honda. She needed a better vehicle but used cars in the makes I had been looking in are very pricey these days and new ones are even pricier. I didn't know what to do and so many months had passed by without anything being done.
Then my coworker had bought a car over eBay and an hour after hearing him tell me about the vehicle still down in Florida, I was looking at a 2001 Honda CR-V (Special Edition none-the-less) with low miles and in mint condition sitting in Chicago somewhere and about to be sold in five hours. I emailed the link to my wife who immediately replied she loved it and told me what her max price was. I still hemmed and hawed a bit and did what a conservative engineer would do. I researched the vehicle on several sites to find out what the going blue book value was, researched buying vehicles over eBay and even called up the guy selling it asking him some questions and most importantly asking him if I could back out should I win the bid, get there, and find it wasn't as advertised. He said I most definitely could. And so after pondering it for another hour or so and with just a couple hours left on eBay, I put in a bid.