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Last updated: April 6, 2024

Buying a Car on Facebook Marketplace: What to Know

Since vehicles aren’t eligible for the platform's Purchase Protection, you’ll need to protect yourself financially in other ways.

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If you’ve ever scrolled through the vehicle listings on Facebook Marketplace, you may have noticed the prices are a fraction of what you’d find at dealerships. But anytime you buy a car through a private seller, there are more considerations to keep in mind and warning signs to look out for. Buying a car through Facebook Marketplace is no exception.

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Car on Facebook Marketplace

The information below is vital to understand before purchasing a car on Facebook Marketplace, as vehicles aren’t eligible for the platform’s Purchase Protection.

Decide What You Want

Want a new vehicle? Go to a dealership, as that’s the only place you can buy a new car. Facebook Marketplace is where you can find used cars.

Before you begin your search, determine your budget, the features you’re looking for, your payment method, and your state’s requirements for used cars.


Consumers are looking for new cars to have features like built-in navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and USB outlets, according to our research. You may not find all of the features you’d like in used cars.

For example, you may wonder if you must have insurance to register a car in California. Knowing how this process works before you start browsing will make everything smoother.

Find a Car

After you’ve made your wish list, it’s time to start shopping. Facebook lets you filter your search by:

  • Owner
  • Price range: Check the car’s Kelley Blue Book value to see if it’s priced fairly.1
  • Vehicle type: There are many types of vehicles available for purchase on Facebook Marketplace, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and RVs.
  • Year
  • Make
  • Model 
  • Body style
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle history: Some listings come with a free CARFAX report or service record. Sellers can also self-report the vehicle’s history, previous owners, and what it was used for (personal or commercial purposes).
  • Exterior/interior color
  • Transmission type 

Get This Information

Before you purchase a car on Facebook Marketplace, it’s essential to ask the seller for the following information:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN): Once you get the VIN, you can look up the car on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website to see where it was manufactured, as well as its vehicle history reports and any open car recalls.2
  • Maintenance: What maintenance has been done on the car and when did it occur? If possible, get a mechanic to inspect the vehicle to see if it needs repairs and, if so, how much they’ll cost.
  • How long the car has been available: Cars that have been available for longer leave more room for negotiations. Check the date the seller originally listed the vehicle.
  • Previous owners: Find out how many people owned the car previously and what they used it for. This will clue you into the car’s wear and tear, which you can cross-reference with maintenance records.

Check Reviews

Facebook allows you to see the seller’s commerce profile and ratings, which you should definitely check. It’s best to buy from experienced sellers with good ratings.

Look Out for These Scam Warning Signs

One of the main disadvantages of buying a car from a private seller versus a dealership is that you’re more likely to be scammed. However, you can avoid getting scammed by looking out for the following red flags.

  • The listing is too good to be true, with an unbelievably (and probably falsely) low price.
  • The same vehicle is listed in multiple locations throughout many states.
  • The seller claims they will use eBay’s Vehicle Purchase Protection, which is available only for purchases from eBay.
  • The seller refuses to communicate through Facebook Messenger.
  • The seller refuses to meet you in person or let you see the car in person before you buy it.
  • The seller refuses to use Facebook’s shipping checkout service.
  • The seller tells a particular story about the car, like that it belonged to a dead relative or a military member deployed overseas.
  • The seller wants you to complete the purchase through another website.
  • The seller wants you to pay using a gift card instead of money.
  • You’ve googled the seller’s email address, and it has been cited in cases of insurance fraud.3

See the Paperwork

Ask the seller for the following documents.

  • Vehicle history report: This document will list the vehicle’s previous owners and history of accidents, maintenance, and recalls. You should be able to get this through the VIN.
  • Registration: Make sure the car’s registration is up to date.
  • Car insurance: The car should be insured and should have proof of insurance, unless you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, two states that don’t require auto insurance. You can either take over the current insurance policy for the vehicle or obtain your own in order to drive the car away from the seller legally.

Test-Drive the Car

Ideally, test-drive the car in a public place during the daytime for your own safety. It’s best to test-drive during good weather when it’s bright and sunny.


One of the biggest advantages of buying a car from a private seller on Facebook Marketplace is you’ll have more leverage for negotiating. To get the lowest price possible, bring proof of the car’s value, like the Kelley Blue Book information you researched. Also, bring the mechanic’s repair estimates, if any.

You’ll have better luck negotiating if your seller needs to sell the car quickly, so ask them about their circumstances. Also, ask about the original vehicle equipment. If anything is missing, you can ask for a reduced price.

Buy the Car

Unfortunately, cars aren’t eligible for Facebook’s Purchase Protection, which guarantees refunds if an item is damaged or otherwise different than described. That’s why it’s critical to do your due diligence and choose a safe payment method to prevent identity theft and other scams. When you’re ready to buy the vehicle, we recommend using an escrow service so the money is held until the purchase is verified. You can also use PayPal, a check, money order, or Facebook Messenger, which lets you send money, to make the payment.

Once you’ve purchased the car, fill out and sign the bill of sale, which should include the:

  • Names and addresses of both parties
  • Odometer reading
  • Purchase price
  • VIN

One copy of the bill of sale should go to you, and the other should go to the seller.

What to Do After You Bought a Car

Congratulations. You bought a used car on Facebook Marketplace! Here’s what to do next.

Get Car Insurance

If the vehicle isn’t already insured, get car insurance from a trusted company.


If your car is older, don’t get collision and comprehensive coverage, as any property damage will most likely cost more to repair than the car’s actual cash value.

Get Registration and Title

You’ll need to meet the seller at your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to transfer the car title and registration to you.4 Now you’re the vehicle’s owner officially!

Dealership vs. Private Seller

Maybe you’re not quite ready to pull the trigger on buying a car on Facebook Marketplace. A dealership is certainly a more traditional method, but what are the pros and cons of each?

Dealership Pros

  • You’ll have more vehicles to choose from.

  • You can test-drive multiple cars in one visit, which is more convenient than going to multiple private sellers.

  • You’ll have extended warranty and car loan options to choose from via the dealership directly.

  • The dealership will handle the paperwork, such as the title, registration fees, and taxes.

  • The dealership will offer the vehicle history report without your having to ask or do your own research.

  • You’ll likely get better customer service.

Dealership Cons

  • The vehicle prices will be higher.

  • The dealership’s salespeople may pressure you to make a purchase as soon as possible.

  • It will be harder to negotiate the cost, especially because of the new-car shortage. With fewer options, dealers have more leverage than customers when it comes to pricing.

Private Seller Pros

  • Prices will be much lower than at dealerships, so you’ll likely find a great deal on Facebook Marketplace.

  • You will have more room for price negotiation.

  • The seller likely won’t pressure you to buy.

Private Seller Cons

  • The seller won’t offer you an extended warranty or loan typically.

  • The process may be slower if the seller isn’t quick to respond to your messages.

  • You’ll have fewer vehicles to choose from and probably won’t be able to test-drive multiple cars in one visit.

  • You’ll have to ask for documentation, like the vehicle history report, and do more paperwork once the purchase is complete, like transferring the title.5

What Is Facebook Marketplace?

Facebook Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that lets buyers and sellers exchange goods. Anyone with an active Facebook account can use Marketplace for free, and there are no hidden fees. You can buy goods from sellers in your area or anywhere across the U.S.

Buying a car online may seem crazy, but the truth is millions of people shop on social platforms every year, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram (also owned by Facebook’s parent company, Meta), TikTok, or Pinterest. However, Facebook takes the cake when it comes to commerce buyers, with 63.5 million buyers in the U.S. in 2022 alone.6

Number of social commerce buyers in U.S. in millions per year Facebook Instagram TikTok Pinterest
2019 41.3 21.6 N/A 9.2
2020 51.7 29 3.5 12.1
2021 56.7 37.6 13.7 15
2022 63.5 41 23.7 15.9
2023 (projected) 65.7 43 33.3 16.9
2024 (projected) 67.8 45.3 35.8 17.5
2025 (projected) 69.4 47.5 37.8 18.1

Of course, most of these purchases aren’t for vehicles, one of the biggest expenditures a person will make after housing. You’ll need to decide for yourself whether you trust Facebook Marketplace enough to buy a car on it.

How Does Facebook Marketplace Work?

Here’s the process whenever you buy something on Facebook Marketplace, be it a used car or a new bedside table:

  1. Sellers, either individuals or businesses, create listings for the items up for sale.
  2. You, the buyer, find a listing you’re interested in and reach out to the seller over Facebook Messenger.
  3. Once a deal is reached, you purchase the item through Facebook and have it shipped or you schedule a time to meet with the seller in person and complete the rest of the purchase process offline. Some items paid for over Facebook qualify for Purchase Protection, meaning you could get your money back if your item is damaged, not how it was described, etc.


If you want the lowest prices possible and aren’t afraid of a little paperwork and negotiation, Facebook Marketplace is a great place to buy a car. However, if you’re willing to pay higher prices for convenience and peace of mind, it’s a good idea to go with a traditional dealership.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are used cars on Facebook Marketplace so cheap?

Used cars on Facebook Marketplace are so cheap because cars from dealerships are inspected and may be refurbished. Dealers also mark up their prices more, as they have more overhead costs to cover, like employee salaries and showrooms. On the other hand, a private seller has no overhead and likely no inspection and no refurbishment, so you’ll see lower prices, but the vehicle’s quality is not guaranteed.

Can I get my money back if I get scammed on Facebook Marketplace?

Whether you can get your money back if you’ve been scammed on Facebook Marketplace depends on what you purchased and how you paid for it. You can qualify for the site’s Purchase Protection only if you sent the money through Facebook’s checkout platform. If that’s the case, you may be eligible for a refund — unless it involves a vehicle, services, or an order over $2,000, including tax and shipping. To see a full list of ineligible items, go to

To see if you can get your money back, ask the seller first. If they refuse, you can file a claim with Facebook. If Facebook approves the claim, you’ll receive a refund in three to five business days.

What is the safest way to pay for a car from a private seller?

The safest way to pay for a car from a private seller is through an escrow service, check, money order, or PayPal.

Is it safe to take a cashier’s check for a car?

Yes, it is safe to take a cashier’s check for a car.


  1. My Car’s Value. Kelley Blue Book. (2023).

  2. Using NHTSA’s VIN Decoder to Identify a Vehicle’s Plant of Manufacture. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2023).

  3. How to Avoid Being Scammed on Facebook Marketplace. ProPublica. (2021, Sep 22).

  4. Buying a car from a private seller. Progressive. (2023).

  5. How to Buy a Car. Facebook Marketplace. (2023).

  6. Facebook is the leader in social commerce—but it’s also buoyed by Marketplace. Insider Intelligence. (2022, Sep 12).