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How To Buy a Car the Dealer’s Way?

By Mike Richards Updated: 01/31/2023 Posted: 10/23/2015

If you want to bypass the dealers and get great cars at wholesale prices, you need to learn how to buy a car the way a dealer does.

You can do this at certain car auctions, using a proxy bidder who, for a small fee, bids on cars on your behalf that are usually only available to dealers.

There is, however, a process you need to follow in order to get  the best deal.

Make a Decision

Find the car you want. Determine what options you need, and what you’re willing to let slide. Be flexible.

Find Out What the Car is Worth

Use an independent source like Kelley Blue Book, NADA guides or DriverSide to determine the worth of the car.

Determine What You Want to Pay

Decide what you want to pay, and don’t deviate. Remember that the final price of the car will include registration, taxes and other fees. Don’t go over budget under any circumstances.

Go to an Auction

Dealers typically buy at auction, getting wholesale prices of anywhere from 40% to 60% off retail. You’re not a dealer? It doesn’t matter. There are companies, known as proxy bidders, that hold dealer licenses and will bid on your behalf, using your cash, at car auctions.

You can get the same deal that a car dealer gets without actually having to hold a license. This works for you because actually getting a dealer license is expensive, time consuming, and not remotely practical unless you’re planning to make a business out of buying and selling cars.

Additionally, since states typically rely on taxing car dealers for income, the state has no reason to want to grant a license to someone who isn’t actually operating as a dealer.

Do Your Research

Find out when auctions, both “real life” and online are about to happen. Then peruse the list of available vehicles. Then, once you’ve found the car that you want, either attend the auction yourself, or arrange to have a proxy bidder act on your behalf.

Look After the Financial Arrangements

Every car auction is going to have its own terms, so make sure that you understand in advance exactly what they are. You may have to pay in cash, by bank draft, or with a credit card. Be sure that you know what types of payment are acceptable so that if your bid is accepted, you can actually buy the car.

Keep in Touch

If you’re using a proxy bidder, make sure that you’re in contact with the company at all times so that if you win the car, you can arrange to finalize the purchase and have the car shipped to you.

Most of the time, shipping is easy – the cost is usually included in your initial fee. But if you’re in doubt, ask questions, and be sure that you know exactly what’s required so that you can get the car you want delivered to you in a timely, expedient and efficient way.

Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work and Buying With Us.