14 Tips for Buying a Car at Auction


If you’re planning on attending a used car auction in the near future, it’s important that you go in prepared. Below, we’re going to share 15 tips for buying a car at auction that should help you to get a quality used car at the price you want:

1. Know Thine Auction: At a government auction, cars are presented as they are, warts and all. At a public auction, a car that looks worn or abused is likely worn and abused. Why wouldn’t the seller dress it up?

2. Look… Really Look: Don’t merely concentrate on the superficial elements of a used vehicle. Instead, really use your eyes and look at the small details. The smallest details often reveal the most!

3. Use Your Nose: With used cars, it’s not just about what you can see. Use your nose! A musty smell, for example, is definitely an indication of water damage.

4. Check the VIN: A car’s VIN number appears on multiple parts of an automobile. Make sure that the various VIN numbers match one another. If they don’t, that’s a clarion sign that the car has undergone an extensive rebuild.

5. Check the Dipstick: If you know cars, then you know that the dipstick can tell quite a tale about a car’s history. Don’t skip this vital inspection step!

6. Know the Meaning of “As Is”: It’s always important to remember that cars at auction are sold “as is”. If you buy a lemon, then you’re stuck with a lemon.

7. Banks Are the Best: When you’re looking for a used vehicle that’s going to be in great condition, pay attention to cars being auctioned by banks.

8. Beware Used Dealers: If you encounter a used car dealership trying to unload inventory at auction, be careful! There’s a reason those cars weren’t selling on the lot.

9. Get a Handle on Pricing: You’re trying to get a good deal, but you can only judge a deal if you know what a vehicle’s cost should be. Spend some time with a service like Kelley Blue Book before you go!

10. Know Your Budget: Before you even get to the auction, make sure that you’re perfectly honest with yourself about your budget and how far you’re willing to go.

11. Watch Other Bidders: Keeping an eye on other bidders will give you a sense of who the “players” are. This can help you to identify those who might be simply trying to bump up the prices.

12. Beware the Bidding War: At a car auction, it can be all too easy to get attached to a particular vehicle. Therefore you might find yourself bidding more than you ever intended to. Don’t fall into this trap!

13. Know Your Abilities: If you plan on repairing a car yourself, particularly a salvage vehicle, then be sure you have a firm grasp of your capabilities and also your tools.

14. Visit Before You Participate: If you’ve never been to a car auction before, then go to a few before you actually go to bid. Having a feel for what they’re like will be invaluable when it comes time to place your bids.

The above tips should help you immensely at a used car auction! Remember, though, that can always participate in online used car auctions, wherein an agent can handle much of the dirty work for you!

Peter Anderson is author of this article on salvage cars for sale.Find more information about online car auction.

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