Guide to the Big 4 Auto Auction Sites – Insurance IAAI Car Auction

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/04/2022 Posted: 10/19/2015

If you’ve been thinking of buying a car at an online auction including IAAI auctions, you may be wondering who arranges these auctions and what you have to do to be able to bid on a vehicle.

The first thing you need to know is that some auctions are open to the public. Others are for bidders that have a dealer license. If you don’t have a dealer license, you may still be able to bid if you know a dealer who will allow you to use his or her license. As an alternative, you can use an online auto auction website that lists vehicles on their site from certain dealer-only auction houses (other than Manheim and Adesa) so that you get access to this inventory at great prices.

So even if you don’t know a dealer, you may still have the opportunity to buy a new, used, repossessed, or salvaged car at certain dealer-only auctions. Most dealers, with whom you have established contact, online auto IAAI auction websites included, will tell you that there are four main auction sites that offer the best deals and IAAI auction fees are minimal… You can add all of them to your list or change your preference one by one.



Copart is the brainchild of Willis J. Johnson, who founded it in 1982. Johnson, a real American success story, grew up in the business under his father’s tutelage. Together, they started business ventures in a variety of different areas, such as the restaurant business, dairy farming, and construction, as well as auto salvage. In fact, Copart began with a single salvage yard in the State of California.

Twelve years later, Copart went public on NASDAQ and expanded nationwide.

Today, it’s the premier IAAI “buy fast” auction site for top-quality new and used vehicles, offering late and early model cars and trucks, classics, and luxury vehicles. It’s been on Forbes’s Best Small Companies list for nine years running.


IAAI (Insurance Auto Auctions Inc.)

IAAI (car auction) was founded in 1982, and since then has worked with dealerships, insurance companies, fleet lease companies, and rental car companies to sell “total loss” vehicles at auction. They conduct both live and online auctions. According their policy, IAAI (insurance auctions) focuses on vehicles that are lightly damaged and repairable.  They also auction heavy equipment and sell donated vehicles in order to raise money for various charities.


ADESA (Auto Dealers Exchange Services of America)

ADESA serves mainly dealers and institutional customers, including:

  • Banks
  • Credit unions
  • Other financial institutions
  • Vehicle rental companies
  • Fleet management companies
  • Vehicle rental companies

Independent wholesale dealers and licensed franchisees purchase and consign vehicles at ADESA. Dealer consignment vehicles include unwanted trade-ins and aged inventory.

ADESA typically has one live on-site auction in any given week, and they also conduct live online auctions.



Manheim is the “grand old man” of vehicle auctions, having been established in 1945. They have 122 locations worldwide and employ 20,000 people. In any given year, Manheim sells in around seven million used vehicles. They sell at live auctions as well as online, bringing together buyers and sellers including auto manufacturers, dealerships, car rental agencies, banks and government agencies.

Choosing an Auction Site

Now that you know about the “Big 4,” how do you choose an IAAI action site? You don’t have to. There are companies that can navigate these sites for you (other than Manheim and Adesa). Find the vehicle you’re looking for and bid on your behalf.

These companies are known as “online auto auction sites” and they are experts in buying dealer auction vehicles online. They can even bid at certain auctions that are “dealer-only”, so you don’t have to worry about not having a dealer license. You don’t have to be present at a physical auction, and they will spare you the stress involved in bidding at an auction. An online auto auction site can handle it for you, usually for a nominal fee.

Another advantage of using an online auto auction site is that they can help arrange to have your vehicle transported to you. These online auto auction sites are there to help make your car buying experience as seamless as possible and, most importantly, help you find and take the best priced vehicle.

Find a little time to explore and view our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.