new car auction
Buyer Tips

Are Auction Cars Good to Buy?

By Mike Richards Posted: 10/22/2018

Whatever the commodity or product you are buying, there are good and bad purchases. The same goes for vehicles and especially auction cars. Car auctions have existed for a while and are gathering momentum as a number of online platforms have started providing access to private buyers that were limited to public options before. This fact has changed significantly the image of car auctions in the public eye.

Previously, car auctions were seen as the source of scrap metal and salvage vehicles that couldn’t be sold elsewhere. So what has changed recently, and are the auction cars improving? Let’s look at a few pros and cons.


With the Trump Administration imposing new tariffs on imports from China, the USA-China trade war has escalated over the recent months. This could result in new and used car prices going up. The prices of vehicles at auctions can be up to 80 percent below retail prices. Considering the gap in price, there is significant room for savings and profit if you intend to resell the vehicle.

However, there is a potential obstacle in this scheme as normally you can only access public auctions as a regular buyer. This means you will mostly be able to buy salvage cars, damaged used cars or even vehicles that are mostly good for parts only.

In order to get to quality vehicles at auctions, you have to attend closed auctions that require a dealer’s license. However, this is less of a problem now as buying cars at online auctions has become very convenient.

Online Auctions

This is something that most people like about online auctions: you can buy online without leaving your home. This saves you gas money and time. Plus, if you buy through a reputable car auction platform, for a certain fee, dealer auctions are no longer off limit to you. This is where you get to pick the good quality used cars, cars that have just come off lease or even new vehicles.

Of course, if you are looking for cars at the lower end of the price scale, you can still do that, but there is something to be aware of here as well. While online auctions will provide you information on the car, it might be minimal, images might hide damage and the description could be vague. This means that you buy the car without really being able to inspect it thoroughly. Although in other respects online auctions aren’t much different from other public auctions where the majority of cars are sold as is, in an online auction you can’t try starting or driving the vehicles.

Car Auction

Quick Purchases

With the volume of vehicles sold at US auctions, these sales go very quickly. Online auctions can be even quicker. You set your maximum bid for the car you want to buy and go to bed. You don’t have to be spending days driving around looking at cars at various lots.

Research is Key

You can find good deals everywhere and even more bad deals if you don’t know what you are doing. The same goes for buying auction cars. So before bidding on anything, do your math, find out as much information as possible about the car, including its history. While you can score some steals if you’re smart, you could also end up with a scrap heap in a second if you’re not careful.

Difference Between Auction Cars and Used Car Dealership Offers

salvage dealer auction

Well, there is barely any difference between dealer auction cars and the cars you buy at your local dealership. The reason is that dealer auctions are the places where used car dealers get their inventory. Buying at auction basically means you’re purchasing your new set of wheels a lot cheaper.

Keep in mind that dealers will also use auctions to sell on the cars that they were unable to sell at their lots. Maybe the car has high mileage, maybe there are some faults hidden, but stick to your plan and cover all the bases before making any bids.

Good Game Plan, Better Cars

How good a car you buy depends on how well you know the auction business. An in-person auction can get hectic pretty quickly, especially if you are a first-time buyer. You could end up looking like a deer in the headlights.

So even before you start, know what you want to buy and what you require from a car. Learn the rules of the auction. If you are a frequent visitor to auctions, it will pay off eventually if you meet people who run the auction house. You could also find contacts within the government or insurance companies and banks who are responsible for the sale of their inventory. You can directly negotiate deals, find out the bottom prices. Maybe you can nudge them even lower if the car doesn’t get sold.

car auction live

If you’re attending an in-person auction, always make sure you inspect the cars you consider buying,. You should start them and move them a bit. Turn on as much of the accessories as you can to check everything works. Look for any blemishes, dodgy fixes, anything that could spell trouble. If you don’t have the know-how, bring a buddy who does. Buying the auction cars from the ‘As is’ lanes is a risk. But you could end up with a gem or rue the day you went to the auction. If you can’t inspect, it is better to walk away.

Further Reading

If you are buying through an online auction, you should use all the resources and information available at website. You should always request a history vehicle. The more you learn about a vehicle, the better your decision will be.

Plus, when you are calculating your budget, always leave room for the transportation costs. Find out what companies would deliver the car from the auction floor to your driveway. The total should always be below the price of the car at the dealership.

Auction Cars are Good Buys

The tips given above will improve your shopping experience and help you get a good car. And your smile and satisfaction will be genuine, unlike after buying a car from the dealership. You will get a better deal, and more often than not, a better car. You will get the car you wanted to buy, not the one a salesman talked you into buying.