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Buying a Car at Auction

awareness-guide awareness-guide
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/08
Posted: 08/05/08
07:46 PM

Hi Everyone

I am only a new member but many people I speak to tell me that even though they are happy to buy a car at an online auction, the off line version scares them to death.

I have had a lot of experience at (off line - real) auctions and have found with a few basic rules you can get better value for your money and find the experience more rewarding and often less dangerous than the online equivalent.

Below is an exert from my used car website that discusses my secrets to buying a used car at auction as well as contributions from many sources about buying a used car.

My Car Auction Secrets Revealed

I have been going to all sorts of auctions for years now and I admit in the beginning I felt apprehensive.

My introduction to the auction process was as a software developer some 15 years ago when many auction houses were computerising their operations. So as a result I spent a lot of time working on the inside and got the low down from experts in the auction industry, which invariably led to my participating on the outside as a bidder.

During this time I developed some simple ground rules that I think take all the guess work out of using an auction as a viable means to getting a great deal on a used car.

They make the whole process that much safer and are described below.

I hope you will be able to use some or all of these rules to help you get a great deal on your next used car too.

Pick a Style of Car Not a Make & Model

First of all I decide what I am after. By this I usually try to avoid a picking a particular make or model of used car. Instead I prefer to look for a style of vehicle. For instance my last purchase, I was looking for a small sedan, one in good to great condition, it had to have 4 cylinders (for fuel economies sake) and have a manual transmission. I also wanted a car that was less than 4 years old.

The auction I attended on this day, I had been through the auction catalogue online and determined there were about 6 cars that matched my criteria. I bid on the first three cars without making a purchase, they all sold above my price limit, and once I reach that limit I stop cold (that’s my second rule, set a maximum price and stick to it). As the forth car came up for auction I noticed there was far fewer people bidding, I usually wait before I bother to bid to have a look at who else is interested.

How to Spot a Car Dealer At Auction
If the car is being bid on only by used car dealers, the chances are good that you will be able to snap up the vehicle at a price at (or very close to) the wholesale price. Car dealers of course want to be able to on sell there purchases at a fair price so they too will only bid up to what they consider a realistic price. The dealers are easy to spot because of the volume of cars they buy.  

Too many people who make the effort to go to an auction looking for a car make the mistake of choosing only one car, one particular vehicle, and that’s bad. This means they may get into a bidding war with someone else interested in the very same car and as a result will pay way too much for their used car and be disappointed, or get the car they wanted and pay too much…

The idea here after all is to buy a used car at a price less than you would pay in a car yard or a private sale.

Pay Only 33% of the Street Value Of Your Next Used Cars - Leagally

In the example I used above, the car ended up buying came in under my budget limit by about $500. When I insured the car the agreed value with my car insurer was a little less than 3 times what I had paid… Now do you know why I go to car auctions for my used car purchases!

I hope this brief insight into how I buy at auction helps you to procure a used car of your choice at a price way better than the average bear in the woods will ever get.

Happy Used Car Hunting!

JB -  

driefbay driefbay
New User | Posts: 9 | Joined: 08/08
Posted: 08/06/08
05:51 AM

HI there guys! im just new here! glad to meet you all ! i know ill learn too much from u!


rosy8230 rosy8230
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/08
Posted: 08/11/08
10:42 PM

Buying a car in auction is good when the condition of car is fine and we get it for affordable price..I purchased a car in an auction 2 years back, I am not satisfied with that,it was not up to my expectations.Many people I speak tell me that even though they are happy to buy a car at an online auction..

Bidding and winning a good is better i feel and its mere luck to get things at such low cost.

Some times i  feel  happy to get car from long distance in bidding and auction..

Car Auctions  

syang5 syang5
New User | Posts: 7 | Joined: 08/08
Posted: 08/21/08
02:22 PM

I heard that buying a car at an auction takes a lot of time, but it sounds pretty cool. I went to a used car shop and they buy all their cars from auction, but it was pretty shady because you don't know anything and they provide fake carfaxes. So just a heads up, it always best to do your own homework before purchasing a car.  

williamgeo williamgeo
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 09/08/08
08:02 PM

Many people are afraid to buy a used car at an auction. They are afraid of making a mistake and ending up with a "lemon". This fear is natural. It is also completely called for if you don’t know what you are doing. There are a few things you need to know before you even attempt to buy a car at a used car auction.

bigvito bigvito
New User | Posts: 6 | Joined: 09/08
Posted: 10/05/08
03:22 PM

At any rate, going to an auction is free... and fun!

Christiandream Christiandream
New User | Posts: 12 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 10/26/08
12:15 AM

Before you go to an auction get a copy of the Nada blue book i don't suggest kbb or any consumer blue book, You should be able to borrow a copy from your bank they get them every month so they may loan you one, Try to get the wholesale book which is black this is what a lot of dealers use in dealer auctions. just remember right now is a buyers market take your time and be prepared to walk from the auction with nothing.also try to contact the us marshals office to find which auction they send the drug cars to, or contact your local banks and credit unions to see if they have repossessions up for bids, if they do don't be afraid of insulting anyone by low biding even if they have a start price.
if you can prepare for purchasing a car a few months before you need to buy that's the best way to get your best deal.
I would also like to note you should go to any auction you plan to attend at least once before you plan to buy to get used to the process.  

DrScarabus1 DrScarabus1
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 10/09
Posted: 10/15/09
08:14 AM

I am a huge fan of government auctions. I recently moved and pretty much furnished my apartment with stuff I have bought from them. I have also had my first taste of a police auction and am astonished at how low prices for cars are. They all seem in great shape unless otherwise noted. I would try a site like - they have thousands of auctions.  

rvalverde rvalverde
New User | Posts: 3 | Joined: 12/09
Posted: 12/14/09
12:12 PM

I agree, usually there are some pretty good deals at auctions (especially govt. auctions) if you're willing to take the risk of buying a lemon. If the auction allows I'd see if you could get the vehicle inspected. There's some mobile inspection services like AiM Mobile Inspection who will drive out to the auctions and inspect on the spot. If the auction site allows this it is a great way to get the cheap prices without getting ripped off.  

ricki65us ricki65us
New User | Posts: 44 | Joined: 10/09
Posted: 01/21/10
09:44 AM

Buying a car from auction can save you money for sure, if you know about that car mechanically. It is not for the faint of heart, dealer buy them from the auction, and spend thousands recondition the vehicle to fix all the problems and sell it for a profit. Imagine if you bought a U.S or Quebec vehicle without knowing, with 10,000 plus in accident repairs, it doesn't really matter what you paid for it, you will most likely be stuck with that car for rest of your life. So buyer beware, if you feel confidence about auction purchase, then go ahead with it. for used car sales in Oshawa area visit us at New Oshawa Motors  

honky-tonk honky-tonk
New User | Posts: 26 | Joined: 01/10
Posted: 02/02/10
01:46 PM

fake carfax reports, really? seems like that'd be real easy to trace, and the offender would get caught real quick, yeah? i mean, unless the auction site is something real shady, which in that case...

yeah, something like a government auction seems like your best bet.  
looking for: scion xB accessories, recommendations appreciated

hunttyrone hunttyrone
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/08/10
04:28 PM

Thanks for this information. I live in Memphis Tn and would like to purchase a car at an auction. Can you reccommend one?



tsaojamescar tsaojamescar
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/10/10
05:59 PM

Buying a car at an auction might make you feel very happy, but it's not dependable at all. You have to be very lucky to actually benefit from car auction, let alone the high volumes of time that you put into auctioning. If I were currently in the market, I would buy through Carsala. They help find the right car for you and get a killer deal.  

ricki65us ricki65us
New User | Posts: 44 | Joined: 10/09
Posted: 02/14/10
12:08 PM

Great posting very informative. I have been to the auction few times in Toronto, it resembles a flee market, and online auction is little scary since you can touch or feel the car. It is a good idea to go with someone who is experienced in car buying. Such as knowing the common problems with certain cars, know the paint work or which panel of the vehicle has been replaced, know something about the mechanical operation of the vehicle. But if you are little green at the process you can be totally ripped off. For more used car buying tips please visit us at  

New User | Posts: 4 | Joined: 05/10
Posted: 05/18/10
07:55 PM

Try reverse auction websites like (they dont offer very old cars I guess but Cert. Pre-Owned and New are their specialty - buyer request bids online and dealerships across the country submit their offers to the buyer online like reverse of eBay). Google for reverse auctions; there might be more.

I guess it was 2001 when I bought a 5-speed 2-Doors Camry 95 from a public auction in Chicago for $3500 OO the Gate. Man I loved that car ... Drove it 800 miles every weekend between Chicago and Minneapolis for months in single shots. When moving OO state in 2006, I gave it to a friend of mine for $900. He drove for another year and sold to someone for $1,000 .... I still miss that car  

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