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I’m Buying My First Car in an Online Auction: What Should I Know?

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 06/16/2017

If you’re in the market for a vehicle, these are truly exciting times that we’re living in. As it has so many other things, the Internet has completely changed the vehicle purchasing process. Because of things like online car auctions, it’s now possible for ordinary consumers to save thousands of dollars when they purchase their vehicles.

In fact, it sounds like you’ve made the decision to use an online car auction to purchase a vehicle. This is great news! However, before you embark upon the process of searching for, bidding upon and then buying your vehicle, there’s a few things you should know…

Financing Isn’t an Option

This one may go without saying, but it’s worth noting. When you purchase a car through an online auction, financing isn’t an option. Upon winning a car, the final bid price – along with any related auction fees – must be paid in full promptly. Failing to do this could result in a forfeited deposit and losing possession of the vehicle that you’ve won.

Used and Salvage Cars to Avoid

When you’re a newcomer to online car auctions, it’s important to understand that the cars available truly run the gamut in terms of quality and condition. If you’re looking to make things easy on yourself, then there are definitely some vehicles that you’ll wish to avoid.

Chief among these will be vehicles that have sustained extensive damage in a collision or another calamity. While the purchase price for these vehicles will be exceptionally low, the cost of repairs to get the vehicle roadworthy once again might be excessive.

Used and Salvage Cars to Pursue

Of course, extensively damaged vehicles only make up on piece of the pie. In online car auctions, you’ll find a great many used and salvage vehicles that could make a worthy purchase.

If you’re really looking to score an incredible deal, try looking for salvage cars that are theft-recovery vehicles. Due to the salvage titles, these vehicles will have incredibly low purchase prices. However, because they’ve been designated as salvage due to theft, they may not require much if any repairs post-purchase.

When examining used cars, it’s important to request vehicle history reports for any vehicles you may wish to bid upon. In looking through these reports, always give preference to vehicles that have had few owners, were housed in car-friendly environments, and that have clear registration histories. By and large, these will be the used cars in online car auctions that are in the best condition.

Get All of the Help You Need

Given that this is your maiden voyage with respect to online car auctions, remember that most sites will be willing to provide you with an extraordinary amount of help. If the online car auction site you choose provides you with access to an auction specialist, take advantage of that! This person can help with everything from refining your search to the best cars, bidding, and even arranging for shipping and delivery.