Buyer Tips

4 Tips for When You Buy a Salvage Car at a Dealer Auction

By Mike Richards Updated: 06/22/2022 Posted: 03/08/2017

Dealer auctions provide one with the opportunity to save potentially thousands of dollars when purchasing a vehicle. This is especially true when you use a dealer auction to buy a salvage car. These kinds of vehicles, provided you bid smartly and know how to make repairs, can often be had for pennies on the dollar, presenting an incredible opportunity.

Not only that, but buying through a dealer auction online gives you a huge range of vehicles, that otherwise, you’d never be able to see, looking at a single auction website, or attending one in person. All of these vehicles can be delivered to your address wherever you are, and so are becoming an increasingly popular method of attending auctions in person.

If you’re thinking of going the salvage route at a dealer auction, then here are some tips you can use to ensure you end up with the right vehicle!


Tips to Buy Salvage Car At Auction

  1. Water and Fire Damage

There’s some vehicle damage that can be repaired, others can’t. In the latter category, the vehicles’ damage is due to fire or water. Vehicles that have been damaged in this way often develop deep-seated issues that are costly to repair.

For this reason, you may wish to avoid such salvage cars unless you’re particularly adept at these kinds of repairs, otherwise, you may end up paying a lot more than you spent on buying the vehicle. These cars are cheap. They are used as parts in repairing vehicles of the same model. Which is a great choice if you’re looking for spares, but not if looking for a vehicle to bring back into a roadworthy state itself.


  1. The Pre-Purchase Inspection

When you buy a salvage car in a dealer auction, you’re buying that car “as-is”. Because of this, the more knowledge you have about your purchase, the better. If there’s a vehicle that you’re interested in, then fork out the money for a pre-purchase inspection. The upfront investment is almost always worth it, and the online auto dealer auction site you’re working with can likely help you to arrange the inspection.

This may not always be possible and depending on where the car is based, it might not be practical – check the listings for any information, and speak to a representative of the dealer website, where available, to see how they can help you.


  1. Vehicle History Report

Likewise, use the salvage car’s VIN to obtain a vehicle history report, through a service like CarFax. This will offer great insight into what kind of damage the car may have sustained, as well as what problems may lie beneath the service. In conjunction with the pre-purchase inspection, this can really help to make sure you’re making a sound purchasing decision.

Not all damage sustained will be in a vehicle history report. They are fantastic sources of information, but they aren’t the holy grail of information. Use them alongside any other information you can get from the listings. Especially the photographs, and always budget for a few hidden problems that may not be obvious. Cars being sold at these prices means saving thousands even after the repairs if you budget well.


  1. Theft Salvage Vehicles

If you’re looking for a salvage car that’s going to require the least amount of post-purchase repairs, the best place to start is with vehicles recovered subsequent to theft. Oftentimes, there may be little (or even no) damage to speak of, yet you’ll still be able to enjoy the incredible savings that buying a salvage car through a dealer auction affords.

This also means may be a bit more competition for these vehicles.

Set a budget and stick to it. There are hundreds of new listings each day – don’t go over your limit on one vehicle you’ve found. There will be another, equally suitable car coming up in the next round of lots.


Salvage Cars Mean Great Deals

If you understand all of the above, you should be able to find a salvage car that will end up being a great deal for you.

Get started in your search. Sign up for an online dealer auto auction today.

Browse thousands of salvage cars available across the country right now!


You’ll be surprised at the number of cars available, many of which will be salvage cars.