Buying a Car at the Auto Auctions

Buying a car at an auction is tempting.  The starting price seems so impossibly low, and stories of people walking away from auctions with vintage cars for half of their value or less seem like amazing promises.  However, purchasing your next vehicle from an auction is risky business: there are no signed contracts that protect you from verbal misleading on the part of the seller; there is a high chance you could actually get a better price elsewhere; and you'll likely go through a lot of stress and work, only to lose the car at the last second to a higher bidder.  If you're determined to purchase a car at auction, however, there are some things you can do to make it a safer, better experience.

 

A vast display of cars in an auto auction.Do a Blue Book check.  You can use online databases to check the value of the car you're interested in before you even head down to the auction house -- and you should, because you don't want to bid more than the car is worth.  Nor do you want to pay more than the price for the same car on craigslist or a used car lot, so do your local homework, too.

 

Run a VIN check.  This means you need to obtain the VIN (or Vehicle Identification Number) from the auctioneer or auction house, and then plug it into a national database.  Then you can read up on past accidents it's been in, past and current ownership, and any other issues the VIN databases might list for you.  If the car has any suspicious notes on its listing at all, don't buy it.  Just don't.

 

Trust your gut.  After you do your homework, you may find that there is nothing obviously wrong with the car...but your instincts are screaming at you that it's a very bad idea.  You may have subconsciously picked up on something pointing towards a scam, and no matter what, you should just walk away and find a different option.  There are a lot of ways to be scammed over an auction purchase, and it's best to drop the idea if you sense anything fishy at all.

 

Bid wisely.  Your final bid will most likely have an added percentage given to the auction house/auctioneer, plus there are other fees associated with live auctions.  Factor in some extra money to your final bid, and just let it go if someone tops you.  You don't want to end up paying a ridiculous amount of money more than you intended to.

 

Buy a used car warranty.  Some companies offer protection plans for used cars, and it's a good idea to get one for your auctioned car.  That way, even if something does go wrong despite all your precautions, you'll still get your money back.


More great auction tips await you here at the GarageSaleCow.com blog, and the main page is great, too!  Head on over to join a free community of garage sale enthusiasts!




Comments (17) -

David King
David King
2/26/2013 10:12:05 AM #

Do your homework before going to car auctions. Research on the price range of your chosen car. Use that as your baseline to gauge whether it's still reasonable to bid at a certain price than just going blind to auctions and overbidding. You want to be wise when spending money.

George Strong
George Strong
2/26/2013 10:14:37 AM #

Choose weekdays over weekends when going to a car auction. Less bidders are present which means less competitors and greater odds of getting your car. If you go with the crowd during weekends, your chances are very slim since there are a lot of people bidding making the price higher and higher until it's out of your budget. That does not sound really good for me, so go to auctions during weekdays to have less competitors.

Fritz Wold
Fritz Wold
2/26/2013 10:18:26 AM #

Dress to Impress. When you're going to a car auction, make sure that you look respectable and elegant. Don't wear jeans and a shirt, you should attract the hosts and make them think you're a legitimate buyer like you're a professional. That way, they would approach you formally and you could make a deal easily. Don't dress like you're going to a baseball game to watch your kid play.

Norman Kerman
Norman Kerman
2/26/2013 10:21:33 AM #

Before going to a battle, have a good plan and be sure it execute it properly. You can have a partner with you to help survey the field and bid. Bid as high as you can, just make sure it's not too much that you may have to use the money you saved for your kid's education. It's important to acknowledge when to back down and let the chance pass, you can still bid on another day.

Walter Hucko
Walter Hucko
2/26/2013 10:26:13 AM #

Be sure to check the car as long as possible. You may not be able to touch and scan the car thoroughly but you can watch out and hear danger signs of a bad deal in the making. Be keen for gurgling sounds, rattling movements, black smokes, loose bearings and broken lights. Having a birds eye view of the car would be nice too, to see it up close and from a far are too different things. Just check if it's as good as it looks from a distance.

Fidel Martin
Fidel Martin
2/26/2013 10:28:41 AM #

Make up your mind on what car you will purchase. Definitely, you'll see some enticing cars that will give you seconds thoughts if you're making the right decision of passing on these babies. Don't make a decision out of impulsivity and divert from your game plan. Stick to what you decided and things will turn out well.

Mitchell Judge
Mitchell Judge
2/26/2013 10:33:00 AM #

Stick to your gameplan and buy you chosen car. Definitely, there will be cars that will give you second thought if you're doing the right thing of passing on these babies. Don't make a decision out of impulsivity and emotion. Follow what you have planned and if ever, you really decide on making a change, think things over. Don't bid immediately on the car, let it pass and when you go at a car auction again and the desire is still there, then go for that new car you aspire.

Francisco Pungi
Francisco Pungi
2/26/2013 10:36:47 AM #

Stand and bid with the big time bidders in front. Don't just blend in with the crowd in the stands, dare to be different. Wear your "Big Boy Pant's On." Raise your card as if you're bidding with a small portion of your wealth only. Gain the attention of the auctioneer by always being in the thick of each race.

Jules Boutin
Jules Boutin
2/26/2013 10:43:50 AM #

Verify the car's VIN number or otherwise known as Vehicle Identification Number to assure a legal and genuine product. You can run it online through government systems to verify if it's clean or in the list of lost, carnapped cars. Learn not only about your car but also the hosts of the action. Ask around if they're legit and if they have a good background.

Eugene Kristiansen
Eugene Kristiansen
2/26/2013 10:46:29 AM #

Arrive early, the saying that goes "the early bird catches the early worm" :p can be applied here. You can be at an advantage if you arrive ahead of time to scout possible cars and double check those prospect cars you have. There's still a few people roaming around and the distractions are still minimal. It's a good habit to be prepared.

Sylvester Balchunas
Sylvester Balchunas
2/26/2013 10:52:25 AM #

Weigh the risks and benefits of car auctions. After you've won the bidding and closed the deal, there's only little that you could do if something goes wrong. There's no turning back or rewind button to undo things, you just have to live through your decision. Every auction has it's risks, it only depends on what will you gain if you're lucky, just hope luck is on your side. Godbless

Jayson Brown
Jayson Brown
2/28/2013 2:01:25 PM #

To try picture yourself in a car that you want and imagine the feeling that you would have while passing by your neighbors. Would you ride a car like that with your girl? Does this car represent me as a person? These are some issues you need to answer to have a clearer picture of your ideal car. If you already got your chosen car in your mind, it's time to hit the road and go to a car auction. There, you can select from a vast cars parked around the lot and assess each one until you find a perfect car.

Ellie Renner
Ellie Renner
2/28/2013 2:05:48 PM #

I've not tried to purchase a car from auctions like this. I'm afraid that I may find a wrong car and worst, I'll find out that I bough a smuggled car. I still buy cars from trusted dealers and if possible, brand new ones. I'm not a car enthusiast so I can't really understand about cars because I just use them as my means of transportation, nothing more. I can't handle a car which will break down once in a week and take it to a real GARAGE. I can't face that consequence right now so I'm sticking to playing it safe. But someday, I'll try to buy from car auctions.

Katie Dwan
Katie Dwan
3/5/2013 4:40:23 PM #

Before you buy a second hand car, think about if it's really worth it. If you'll purchase a car in bad condition, you could spend thousands of dollars for the repair which could actually be used for buying a brand new car running in perfect condition. I'm not saying that all the cars in auctions are all in terrible condition. What I'm saying is that there are risks that you should know of before engaging to an event as such.

Pat Durham
Pat Durham
3/5/2013 4:45:37 PM #

HI, this is Pat. When buying a car at auctions, make sure to know about the history of that vehicle. Don't purchase those vehicles which were involved in accidents or tragedies where the previous owner or just someone died from that. That would be creepy if you're using a car while there are spirits or souls still attached to that car. Geese... I can't imagine driving a pickup in a road in the middle of nowhere and when I look into the mirror I'll see a guy or woman sitting at the back seat.

Ralph Drollinger
Ralph Drollinger
3/5/2013 4:51:49 PM #

You don't really need to find cars that are in their best shape because you can still have them repaired and restored to their original state. You can customize the car - put vinyls, change the body, put spinners, a neon light and all those things you see in Need for Speed. Eventually, you can bring that car of yours to a car show and hopefully you'll win awards. See, how far you've gotten? From just seeing an old car in auction, you saw it as an opportunity to improve the car. You just need the vision, have that vision about your plans and goals.

kirsten Weaveland
kirsten Weaveland
3/7/2013 8:39:47 PM #

Never buy when you're in doubt. When you are an impulsive buyer, I think you really have to assess yourself on what type of car you want and what type best suits you. Sometimes, when you get attracted to a thing, you buy it instantly. After you'll get the product, it's just then that you've realized it is not what you want. So who spent money on nothing? YOU...

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