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Some people are still under the impression that car auctions are expert-only endeavors.
Whether it’s a classic, muscle or daily use vehicle, car auctions are a great way for ANYONE to get a steal on their new ride.
With that said, auctions do require some effort. Research is crucial.
Also, keeping a level-head while the auctioneer is rambling in gibberish is a talent not everyone has.
So, before heading off to your first car auction (or logging in to an online auction house) be sure to read through this article for some simple tips to prepare you.
The Simple Tips
#1 Do Your Homework
This is the most important tip, so we might as well start with it. The internet is your friend and your most powerful resource. Price other sources and be sure to research as much as you can beforehand.
We started off with the most important tip, we might as well go to the simplest. If you have your eyes set on a used car, Carfax should be your go-to source.
#3 Stick to Your Limit
Don’t get drunk. Don’t try to impress a significant other. Keep a level-head and don’t go over the maximum you’ve set for yourself. The initial wave of happiness after you place the winning bid will quickly vanish if you bid way over your limit.
Great tips! Now what kind of Auto Auctions are there?
Glad you asked. There’s four major ones that we’ll go over below.
#4 Salvage Car Auctions
I don’t like Salvage Car Auctions. I would advise you against attending them. My reason is this: imagine you see two identical beds next to each other at a mattress store. One bed is $800. The other bed is $80, but marked ‘salvage’ because the headboard was once ripped off, the leg supports were broken at one time and the springs inside the mattress had to be fixed. Would you feel safe sleeping on that mattress for the next decade? Would you feel safe speeding down the highway at 75 mph in a salvage vehicle?
For further convincing:
#5 Government and Law Enforcement Auctions
The cars here are normally government-seized and/or decommissioned vehicles that the agencies have no use for anymore. It’s particularly imperative you run a history report on these to see if you can actually take the title. It’s important to remember that these cars are sold with no warranty.
#6 Auto Auction Wholesale
These auctions are exclusive to car dealers. Unfortunately, you can’t just waltz in and go shopping for your new car. It’s a requirement that you’re a licensed dealer. If you know someone who is a licensed dealer, tell them which car you want and have them buy it.
#7 Online Auto Auctions
Yahoo Auctions! was a popular option in the past, but is recently defunct. eBay motors has been a long-running source for car auctions in the game but BNO.com, the most recent addition to the online auction space, has become a forerunner in all-things online auction with entertaining live auctions for registered users.
Some feel hesitant when purchasing cars from online auction houses, but BNO has a unique Auto Buyer’s Policy that allows buyers nine days to review, inspect and test-drive the car!
The Auction is Starting!
#8 Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light
During live public auctions a traffic light will most likely be near the auctioneer. These lights inform you the status of the title.
The red light means that there are title problems. This could mean a variety of issues, none of them good news.
Yellow light generally means one of two things. The title is in transit or there might be frame damage but the kind that won’t brand the title.
Green light is the best light as this means that there are no problems with the title.
#9 Read the Small Print
Every auction will have its own fees, different rules to abide by and exactly how to complete purchases. Look at this information before the auction to be prepared completely.
#10 Make your bid seen!
Be persistent and clear when you raise your paddle in the air. It sounds simple, but the auctioneer could miss your bid if you’re not efficient at this.
#11 Easy stuff to check
- Wheel rims with damage, purposefully not facing the potential buyers
- VIN # stickers all over the car don’t match
- Too many scratches, dents and dings
- Paint over-spray
- Red light titles
- A/C doesn’t work
- Convertible top doesn’t work
- Too much exhaust from the muffler
- Malfunctioning power windows
- A young car with a lot of mileage
#12 Use the Better Business Bureau
# 13 Before you go…
Check the title history with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If a deposit is mandatory, get a receipt that lists the terms and conditions of receiving a refund.
The best tip for someone heading to their first car auction, or their 101st, is to do as much research as you can and show up early. The more homework you do before the auction starts the more comfortable you’ll feel when the auctioneer is rattling off words.