Buyer Tips

4 Things NOT To Do When You Buy a Used Vehicle in a Dealer Auction

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/22/2017 Posted: 03/10/2017

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to buy a used vehicle is through a dealer auction. Thanks to the advent of websites that offer access to dealer auctions online, ordinary consumers can now access these auctions that were once only available to those with dealer’s licenses. These companies allow you to use their dealer’s license to access these auctions, and then will bid on the cars on your behalf.

This, in turn, has allowed ordinary consumers to enjoy incredible savings on the purchase of used vehicles – sometimes on the order of thousands of dollars.

No doubt, you’re probably interested in checking out online dealer auto auctions yourself. If so, and if you’re new to the process, then it’s important to avoid some common rookie mistakes. Let’s take a look at the big four below…

  1. Don’t Research the Market

Just as you would if you were going to buy a used vehicle through a dealership, so too should you research the marketplace if you’re going to buy a used car in a dealer auction. In order to get the best possible deal, you’ll want to figure out what kinds of cars you’re looking for, and then you’ll want to get a handle on how those cars are typically valued.

Naturally, a resource like Kelley Blue Book can help immensely with this! There is no point going using a great service like a dealer auction, to then be paying over the odds on the first car that takes your eye – just because you didn’t take a look at what these cars are going for on average.

  1. Skip the Vehicle History Report

Making sure that you get the best value on a vehicle means making sure that you’re buying a quality vehicle. Since you will not be able to physically inspect the vehicle for yourself when using online dealer auto auctions, it’s even more important to use VINs to request history reports for any used car upon which you wish to bid.

Searching a service like CarFax, using the VIN can give you a good indication as to the history of the vehicle, at least the official history, which can help you to determine the condition the car is in, and why it might have been put up for auction in the first place. Ignoring this valuable resource would be a simple mistake.

  1. Forget About Repair Costs

As you look through the vehicle history report – examining things like number of previous owners, collision history, and where the vehicle has been housed – you should get a sense of the current ‘state’ of the vehicle. Factor in what you learn when assessing how much you’re willing to bid on a vehicle. Put another way, make sure you’re factoring in the potential cost of repairs, as this will help to ensure that you do not overbid.

You can also get an indication of any body damage by looking at the photographs, and reading any description. Don’t forget to also check if the vehicle’s engine is running, if it’s not then the condition is obviously not just superficial.

Always factor in repair costs, to stop you overbidding on a vehicle. The repair costs should always be lower than the money you’re saving on buying the vehicle in the first place, otherwise you’re paying more to do extra work.

  1. Fail to Consider Salvage Cars

This is one mistake that most online dealer auction rookies make to their own detriment. Oftentimes, the best deals are to be had with ‘salvage’ cars that are actually in fair to good condition and that can be made roadworthy for relatively little expense.

Be sure you look into what’s out there, and lean on the auction specialist assigned to you when determining whether or not any particular salvage car might be worth the investment. Salvage cars can present a great opportunity, especially if you’re good with cars.

If you can make any repairs yourself, it all goes into saving costs. Salvage cars often are sold for pennies on the dollar, so if you can get one running again, you’ll be saving yourself thousands to get a running car. You can even re-sell it for a profit, so don’t just dismiss them out of hand, without exploring the possibilities.

So, check the lots out, and take a look at some of the savings to be made yourself, the internet has made this easier than ever before. With thousands of new lots each day, you’ll never be short of choice.