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Dealer Auction Tips and Tactics for the Average Consumer

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 05/16/2017

Here’s a bit of information that may frighten even the most avid buyer away from a dealer auction or auto auction of any kind. According to some car buying experts, auctions are “not for the faint of heart, and average consumers would easily find themselves overwhelmed and dizzied by the process if they were to go car-shopping at one”. Why? The reasons range from lack of experience, lack of knowledge about cars and even lack of knowledge about sellers or pricing.

The good news is that any average consumer who is eager to participate in a car or dealer auction doesn’t have to have any of that experience or knowledge. This is because they can use an online dealer auction and rely on their licensed dealer to handle the bidding and paperwork that can be the downfall of many novices attending their first or only dealer auction.

Understanding How It Works

To make the most of the tips and tactics to follow, it is best to understand how an online dealer auction works. It is run through a firm that is a licensed dealer able to make bids in these relatively exclusive auctions. They will be bidding against other dealers, which is going to usually keep pricing quite low as everyone involved intends to resell the cars purchased. This works in your favor, and the best dealer auction sites also handle the paperwork and even shipping if you require the vehicle to be delivered to you anywhere else in the world.

The Tips and Tactics to Know

Because you won’t be attending the actual auction, though you can watch the price in real time through a reputable site, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of a traditional auction. Instead, you need to know the sort of pre-bidding research that will yield the most benefits to you.

  • Run a VIN report – The best sites provide the VIN for each vehicle. You must invest in a full VIN report that lets you know the car’s total history and if it has been in accidents or suffered heavy damage and repair.
  • Get the mileage, title status and any notes about damages or issues –  A good site is going to provide you with easy access to the current mileage (including a photo of the odometer if available), the status of the title (such as clean or salvage)
  • Require photos – Let’s say you look at a nice sedan in the make and model of your choice, see it has low miles and a clean title, but there is a note about something with the “front end”. Ask for a full gallery of images to see just what is going on. The best sites make such photos readily available, including the engine area, entire exterior, interior and more.
  • Know about fees and shipping – A truly reputable site is going to outline the fees you’ll pay and if shipping can be arranged should you win.

These tips and tactics make it easy for the average consumer to do very well in a dealer auction.