Used Avionics Buying Guide

By following a few key guidelines you can avoid frauds and have a positive online buying experience.

Avoid Frauds
While the vast majority of sellers offering avionics are honest people, there are scam artists targeting avionics buyers.

  • Never wire funds directly to an offshore account.
  • Offers involving sellers or banks in Asia should be considered 100% fraudulant.
  • On big ticket items, it's a good idea to make voice contact with the seller before sending payment.
  • Report suspicious listings.

To purchase on eBay you will need an eBay account, you can create an account here. Avionics sold on eBay items are usually paid for using PayPal. To open a PayPal account visit

When you find an item you are interested in purchasing, make sure you research its fair market value. eBay allows you to view recently completed auctions where sale prices can be checked. To do this, search for your item on eBay, under 'Search Options' on the left side, check the 'Completed listings' box, then click the 'Show Items' button. Items with a green price sold, those with a red price did not sell.

Before purchasing big ticket avionics, make voice contact with the seller prior to sending any funds. Fradulent sellers will probably refuse your request for a phone call.

Check the seller's history. To do this click on the number next to the seller's name. This will show you the seller's feedback history. Look for recent feedback left by Buyers. Click on the item # on the right to view item details for each feedback.

Does this seller have a high feedback score? Most reputable sellers have a score of 98% or higher.

Review the history to see if this seller has sold avionics or aircraft parts before.

Check the sellers other items for sale. Are any of the other items also avionics / aircraft related?

On big ticket items, always email the seller with a question before bidding. Make sure there's someone on the other side that responds appropriately to your questions. Try to ask something more creative than "does it work?". Here are some questions that can be helpful:

Has it been bench tested recently?

For a Nav/Com ask if the Nav side works. Many #2 radios are sold on eBay. The #2 is frequently used as an ATIS getter, ask if the radio was a #1 or #2. When was the transmitter last checked?

In some pictures you'll see a yellow tag or form 8130-3 taped to the box. Asked about the shop and date on the tag.

If the serial number is not listed in the ad description ask for it. For some radios, such as the KX-170B, higher serial numbers, are worth more. (In case you are wondering, SN 35,000 and higher is considered good for the KX-170B.)

If buying a used panel mount GPS, find out if the following are included:

  • Harness (was the harness cut?)
  • Annunciator
  • CDI
  • Manuals, installation and user
  • Antenna
  • Data Card
  • Data card writer
  • Tray

    A note on wire size. You may find a radio that includes a wire harness. If the harness is complete and uncut it can save significant time and money during installation. If the harness was used in a 24 volt system and you plan on installing in a 12 volt system be sure to verify that the wire gauge is safe to use in a 12 volt aircraft. One advantage of 24 volt systems is that smaller diameter wire can be used. 12 volt systems on the other hand, generally must use larger wires to supply power to the same radio. This is more of an issue with newer avionics that are designed to operate over a wide voltage range, typically 10 to 30 volts.

    Some sellers offer a Dead On Arrival (DOA) guarantee. This means the seller is confident the item will not be dead when you get it. Other items are sold with a bench test guarantee. This means the item is guaranteed to bench test OK but not guaranteed to work in your aircraft. Sellers do this because many times radios are removed as defective when the real problem is related to antenna or wiring issues.

    eBay offers buyer protection for some items, to learn more visit:

    It is common for the majority of bids to be placed during the last few minutes of an auction and for the price to rise significantly. When you bid and enter a maximum price for an item, eBay will automatically rebid for you up to your maximum price when other bids are made.

    Make sure to ask the seller about boxing and shipping. Avionics should be shipped in large boxes with a minimum of 4 inches of foam surrounding the radio. It is especially important that indicators and any instrument with a needle movement be double boxed. The inner box for an instrument should provide at least 4 inches of foam, the outer box should provide another 4 inches of shipping peanuts or comparable material. Indicators should always be shipped solo and never in the same box with a Nav/Com/GPS. All avionics shipping boxes should then be marked as "Fragile". The extra $15 you'll spend to ship this way is one of the best things you can do to insure your purchase.

    After the transaction is complete be sure to leave feedback. Feedback for buyers is usually expected when the buyer pays. Feedback for sellers is generally left when the item arrives and is verified to be as represented.

    If you have a problem with the transaction try to keep your correspondance courteous and factual. Many problems can be resolved quickly and amicably.

    Fraudsters will gain access to legitimate accounts using spoof emails. Make sure you understand what a spoof email is and how to avoid becoming a phishing victim. Take some time to read the eBay spoof tutorial.

    This page on contains helpful information on avoiding on-line seller scams.

    Good luck with your avionics search and purchase.