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How to Get a Great Deal on a New Car with Online Auctions

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 10/21/2015

If you’re looking to buy a new car, you’ll probably decide to go to a local car dealership. However, buying at auction could be a better way.

Buying at Auction

You can buy a new car at auction, often for considerably less than you would pay at a dealership. There are plenty of auctions that sell new cars. So what’s the catch?

Most new car auctions are open only to dealers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t take advantage of these opportunities. You can still bid and buy. One way is to find a dealer in your family or within your circle of friends who will let you attend an auction with them as a guest.

The other way is to use a proxy bidder. You can do this for an actual “real life” auction, or for an online auction. The way it works is that you pay a very reasonable fee to a company that holds a dealer license, and they bid for you using their license. Most proxy bidders even include the cost of delivering your vehicle to you, assuming that you win, in the fee.

Check out What’s on Offer

You want to know what you’re bidding on. If you’re attending an actual physical auction, there’s usually a “pre-viewing” the day before the auction, at which you can examine the vehicle. Usually, though, you won’t be able to test drive it. If you’re buying used, you should check for damage, fluid spills and so on. 

When you’re buying online, of course, you’re not going to be able to do these things. Instead, you’re going to be scrolling and clicking. If a test drive is important to you, you can always go down to a local dealership and take the model you’re thinking of buying for a spin. It’s also helpful to read up on the car you’re thinking of buying. Auto forums online are a great source of information and customer reviews.

Settle on a Price

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding. Set a limit, and resist the temptation to frantically tell your proxy bidder to go higher. If you’ve set a limit, stop right there.  Otherwise, you could end up paying more for the car than you really meant to. Remember, an accepted bid is a contract, and you have to pay.

Also, never be afraid to walk away. If you don’t get the car you want at today’s auction, chances are there will be another just like it in a week or two.

Try Before You Buy

If you’re going to a “real life” auction, attend one or two first just to get an idea of how the bidding works. You’ll usually find that the auctioneer will set the bidding high to begin with. Watch to see if anyone jumps in – experienced buyers won’t. If no one bites, the auctioneer will ask for a starting bid, and usually it will be considerably lower than what he or she suggested.

Keep in mind that the goal is to move these cars, and usually almost any bid will be accepted rather than having to move a vehicle back only to try again at another auction.

The same applies to online auctions. The cars have to be sold, so you don’t want to jump on the opening bid.

Be Prepared to Make a Deposit

If you buy a car at auction, you’ll have to make a deposit on the day of the sale, and full payment on the next business day. If you’re dealing with a proxy bidder, though, you’ll need to pay in full right away. You’ll have to show that you have the funds available to follow through with the purchase if the company bids successfully for you on the car that you want.

The Final Word

You can get a great deal on a new car at auction, even if you’re not a dealer. Auctions aren’t for everyone, though, since the bidding can be fast and furious, and the whole process can be stressful. This is true whether it’s an auction that you actually have to attend in person, or one that’s conducted online. A proxy bidder can take the stress out of bidding for you, usually for a nominal fee.

Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.