How to Use Facebook to Find a Used Car

The Social Media Equivalent of Craigslist

Buying a car online
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Sure you can use Facebook to play Candy Crush Saga and keep in touch with friends and family, but you can also use the popular social media site to find your next used car, thanks to its Marketplace app. With a little bit of caution and these tips, you just might stumble into a bargain.

Prior to the Marketplace

Facebook members have long used the site to buy and sell a variety of items, including used cars. At first, it all sort of happened by chance—people would post something for sale on their feed, then it would spread as members tagged other members or shared the post. Eventually, Facebook users started forming "buy and sell" Groups, which made the process a little more streamlined.

Members would pay for their transactions using PayPal, ApplePay, or some other method of transferring funds, but it was all very much like eBay in that site's early days—that is, largely self-regulated. Trust was established because of the simple fact that members' actions—and potential negative reviews—were out there on social media for all to see.

Eventually, Facebook realized it could capitalize on this commerce. In October 2016, it launched Facebook Marketplace, a community designed to offer its members all the benefits of Craigslist but without most of the risk. The site links buyers and sellers who live in the same area, and it of course attracted both private sellers and used car dealers.

How to Use the Marketplace

Once you decide you want to use Facebook to buy your next used car, simply launch the app, click on "Go To Marketplace," type "used cars" (or "used trucks")  in the search box at the upper lefthand side of the page, and start browsing. You can further hone your search to include sales by private owners, sales near you or in your city, and sales by car dealers. You can even browse by price.

Let's assume you browse by clicking on "used cars and trucks near me." That brings you to a page featuring anywhere from a handful to hundreds of posts (depending on the size of your city), each of which advertises a single vehicle. Click on the web page associated with the vehicle, and you'll be taken to an online "ad" that outlines pertinent information about the vehicle and the seller. If it's a dealership, you'll also be able to check out their reviews and get a feel for their trustworthiness.

You can also search for a specific make, model, and year—say, 2007 Honda Civic—and all Honda Civics for sale in your area will pop up in your feed.

Once you decide you're interested in a certain vehicle, you and the buyer are free to negotiate terms, payment, and delivery, just as you would with any other used car transaction.

Pros

One benefit of buying and selling on the Facebook Marketplace is the convenience. You can access the app anywhere and at any time, either on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. It's also faster and easier to navigate than Craigslist, which does not have an app. And it's safer because sellers are not anonymous (although you do not need to give out an email address or phone number to make a transaction). Those who use the Marketplace obviously must have a Facebook account, so you can see how long someone has been selling and also read reviews by buyers. Finally, the service is completely free to use, and Facebook does not assess any transaction fees.

Cons

One of the advantages of the Marketplace--that it's a community based on trust--is also one of its disadvantages. No platform is completely free of fraud and abuse, so do your research carefully. Unlike eBay, which offers protection to buyers against fraud, the Facebook Marketplace is, like Craigslist, a bit of a free for all, where "buyer beware" is definitely the order of the day.

Is It Worth It?

Given the number of commerce sites that exist both online and in real life, one has to wonder if Facebook Marketplace is even needed. Obviously, sellers seem to think it's worth tapping into the nearly one billion people who currently use Facebook, which could end up being to your advantage as more and more reputable sellers jump into this particular pool. Still, it's best to look at Facebook Marketplace as just one venue available to you in your search for a used car.