Since vehicles aren’t eligible for the platform's Purchase Protection, you’ll need to protect yourself financially in other ways.
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.
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.
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.
After you’ve made your wish list, it’s time to start shopping. Facebook lets you filter your search by:
Before you purchase a car on Facebook Marketplace, it’s essential to ask the seller for the following information:
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.
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.
Ask the seller for the following documents.
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.
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:
One copy of the bill of sale should go to you, and the other should go to the seller.
Congratulations. You bought a used car on Facebook Marketplace! Here’s what to do next.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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||TikTok|
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.
Here’s the process whenever you buy something on Facebook Marketplace, be it a used car or a new bedside table:
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.
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.
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 https://www.facebook.com/policies/purchase_protection.
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.
The safest way to pay for a car from a private seller is through an escrow service, check, money order, or PayPal.
Yes, it is safe to take a cashier’s check for a car.
My Car’s Value. Kelley Blue Book. (2023).
Using NHTSA’s VIN Decoder to Identify a Vehicle’s Plant of Manufacture. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2023).
How to Avoid Being Scammed on Facebook Marketplace. ProPublica. (2021, Sep 22).
Buying a car from a private seller. Progressive. (2023).
How to Buy a Car. Facebook Marketplace. (2023).
Facebook is the leader in social commerce—but it’s also buoyed by Marketplace. Insider Intelligence. (2022, Sep 12).