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How to buy your next used truck from dealer’s auction

By Auto Auction Mall Team Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 08/28/2018

If you are in the market for a used truck, there are three main ways that you can obtain one. The most obvious way to purchase a used truck is to visit a local dealer and see their inventory. But, what if this is not the right option for you? There are two other methods, including purchasing a used truck from a private party or from an online truck auction.

Wait, did we say truck auctions? We did. The first two options (dealer and private party) require that you meet with an individual in person.  You can physically see the vehicle and work out a price from an already set price.

Truck auctions can be both online or in person. In these settings, the price of the car does not come with a fixed price. In fact, you do not have to negotiate, but, instead, you bid on the truck itself.

Online vs In-Person Used Truck Auctions

So, how do you participate in both online and in-person truck auctions? First, you need to identify a truck auction in your area or one online.  Then, determine if the auction is open to the public. Some car auctions do not open to the public. In these cases, only dealers can participate in them. This means you need a license to bid on any cars or trucks there.

At an in-person truck auction, you will sign up or register first. Then, you will have the opportunity to walk around and look at the inventory of trucks available. The bidding will begin at a set time and you will have the opportunity to bid.

On the other hand, online auctions require you to sign up and put down a deposit. One done, you can browse the inventory online. To place your bid, you simply enter the amount and click a button.  You never even need to leave the house.

Below, we will introduce you to the types of trucks you can find at online truck auctions, how to bid on the truck you want, and much more.

Types of Trucks Available at In-Person and Online Truck Auctions

Before you bid on any truck that you see, you must understand the types of trucks available. Let’s take a look at some of the trucks you will find in-person and at online truck auctions.

 Used Trucks

All in-person and online truck auctions will have used trucks. In fact, this is what makes up most of the inventory you find. All used trucks have had at least one previous owner. You will be able to find trucks from all different years, makes, models, colors, and more.

Salvage Trucks, Wrecked Trucks, & Insurance Trucks

While used trucks will make up the inventory you see at these auctions, you will come across trucks that have a salvage title, are wrecked, or are considered to be insurance write offs. These types of trucks do not necessarily spell trouble for you. In many cases, they only need a simple part, or some body work done to them. In other cases, the truck may be a salvage title because theft, flood, or fire has damaged it. A quick check of the VIN can help you determine why the truck is a salvage.

Like-New Trucks

It may be in the rare occasion, but you will find like-new trucks offered at truck auctions. These trucks often end up here because a dealer is clearing out inventory. Often, these like-new trucks still have some of their manufacturer’s warranty and extremely low miles on them.

What is a Bill of Sale Truck?

You may notice that you come across a bill of sale truck for sale. Basically, this means the truck does NOT come with a certificate of title. Bill of sale trucks can be tricky because you will need to obtain a certificate of title for them. This can be quite time consuming.

How to Bid on a Truck at a Truck Auction

Each auction will have a set of steps that you must complete before you can bid on a truck. Before you can place a bid, you will need to complete the registration process and sign up to place any bids.

Often, you will need to place a deposit on your account at an online truck auction dealer. The amount required will depend on your budget and how much you want to spend. Typically, these sites require 10% of the price you plan to spend. For example, if you want to spend $3,000, then your 10% deposit amount equals $300.

Deposits for in-person auctions are not the same and work differently and, in many cases, you do not need one.

Prior to bidding on any truck, do your due diligence and make sure that you check the car’s VIN. Do stick within your budget as it can be easy to go all out and spend more than you intended to. You should use all tools available to you to inspect and vet any truck that you are interested in.

Used Truck Auctions

[auctions type=”Trucks & Industrial”]

Top Truck Online Auction Sites and Other Places to Get a Used Truck at an Auction

Before you settle on a used truck at an auction, you need to know where the auctions are. Below, you will find our top choices for online truck auctions and in-person truck auctions. No matter which option you choose, you will have many used trucks to choose from.

Auto Auction Mall

Auto Auction Mall is the largest online vehicle marketplaces where you can bid on and win many different types of trucks. The website features more than 200,000 live auctions at any given time. When visiting Auto Auction Mall, you can search for a truck based on the body type or by the make and model. If you are looking for truck auctions, this is the place to go!


Copart sells over two million vehicles every single year and they are home to more than 125,000 auctions a day. The company focuses on all types of trucks, cars, and even industrial vehicles. If you are looking for a used truck, you can browse their revolving inventory.


Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc. or IAAI, is one of the largest online resources to find salvage auto titles. The company focuses on connecting buyers with vehicles that have been deemed a total loss by insurance companies. You will find many different options here, including trucks.

Salvage Auctions

A great way to obtain a used truck for less is to attend a salvage auction. You can find salvage auctions online and in person. These auctions include ONLY salvage vehicles, which have been deemed by an insurance company to be a complete loss. These trucks have been in an accident, theft, flood, or fire. These auctions are available to both the public and dealers.

Government Auctions

Government auctions are a great resource if you want to shop for a used truck in person. These government auctions take place when one of the many governmental agencies needs to sell off seized property. Many of the trucks that you find will come from IRS seizures, police impound, and similar.

Dealer Auctions

As we mentioned above, sometimes you need to have a license to visit a dealer auction. These types of auctions are a wonderful way to get your hands on a used truck. However, if you do not have a license, you cannot get in. Should you want to attend or bid at one of these auctions, you would need an intermediary that has a dealer license.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Buying a Used Truck at a Truck Auction

As you prepare to bid on a used truck at a truck auction, you want to make sure that you are ready to make the right choice and know when to bid and when not to bid. Below, you will find some tips that can help you buy your next used truck at a truck auction.

Your Eyes Don’t Lie

Hone in on your five senses and let your eyes tell you everything they can about the truck you are looking at. If you are at an in-person truck auction, you can see, feel, and touch the truck. Don’t pass up this opportunity to do that as you can learn a lot about the truck.

If you are looking at a truck at an online truck auction:

  • Take your time
  • Check the VIN
  • Inspect the inside and outside

Always Check the VIN

Always, always, always check the VIN on the truck you want to bid on. This is the vehicle’s identification number and it lets you see the vehicle’s history. You can determine a lot about the truck from this number. Do not forget to check the VIN and run a vehicle history report, when possible.

Remember, As-Is Means It Is As-Is

If the truck is deemed as-is, then remember, that is exactly what is means. You will receive no warranties and no guarantees on the truck. Therefore, if you get it home and it doesn’t start, well, you saw the as-is sticker.

Don’t Get into a Bidding War with Someone

It is extremely easy to go all out in the moment as you bid. Do not let this happen to you and drop out once a bidding war starts. Remember, there are thousands of trucks available, so do not put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Know Your Budget and the Truck’s Worth

This tip ties into the one above. Make sure you avoid bidding too much or caught up in the bid and stick within your budget. You should also know what the truck’s worth is before you bid on it.

You Won! How to Get Your Used Truck Home

used truck auctions

Now that you finally won your used truck, how do you get it home? This is a question that all used truck buyers will ask at some point while attending an auction. Prior to being able to take your truck home, you will need to pay for it in full. You should make note of all payment requirements that the auction dealer has set forth.

Once payment is complete, you will want to arrange a tow for the vehicle from the location, if you are at an in-person auction. If you have won a used truck at an online truck auction, you will need to make arrangements to have the truck shipped to your location. This can be done through a number of auto transport service companies.

Fortunately, companies such as Auto Auction Mall can help you arrange for transport and shipment of your truck. Once the auction is over, it is your responsibility to remove the truck. Often, you will have a limited amount of time to do so. Once you have received your truck, you can make any needed repairs, register it, and drive it around town!