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Is Buying Cars at an Auction Risky?

By Mike Richards Posted: 08/01/2019

Whenever you are buying a used car, there is a certain level of risk associated with that purchase. The vehicle may be in less than ideal condition, or you may have paid too much for the vehicle, or you may even get scammed. In the specific case of car auctions, you also need to consider the risk of getting into a bidding war and exceeding your budget. It is essential that you are aware of the possible risks and act with caution. So, is buying cars at an auction risky?

Well, buying a car at an auction is only as risky as you make it to be. By this, we mean that whatever risks you may have to face, there are several steps you can take to minimize them and make buying a car at auction as safe as any other method. 

There are certain things you need to know before hitting up a car auction which will help you reduce the risk levels. So read on to learn more. 

Public vs. Dealer Auctions and the Risks Involved

The first thing you have to know is that there are two main kinds of auction. There are public auctions that everyone can attend. But there are also dealer auctions that you can only attend if you have a dealer’s license. The first type will offer anything from wrecked and salvage cars to used cars in excellent condition, and sometimes even a new car or two. The second type provides you access to brand new vehicles or vehicles that have just come off lease. These are also in near new condition.

Car Auctions Near Me

These two types of auction present different kinds of risk and therefore require different approaches. 

In the case of public auction, you need to prepare for the fact that many of the vehicles are in less than ideal condition. This means that you should do your best to check the vehicle’s current state. This usually means inspecting the car. If you don’t know that much about cars, bring someone with you that knows their way around them to inspect the car for you. Try the vehicle out, test it if possible, and do as many checks as you can before bidding. 

Further Reading

Dealer auctions are a different story. You can be sure of the quality of the cars, but the price point is a bit higher for these vehicles. So you need to budget accordingly. You also need to keep in mind that this is usually the place where your local dealers buy their inventory. So be prepared for fierce bidding with trained and experienced professionals. 

This applies to both kinds of auction. When it comes to bidding, make sure you never step above your budget. It is easy to get too excited about a vehicle and end up in a bidding war. Avoid this in every circumstance, especially if you are bidding against dealers. Always respect the budget you have set for yourself. Remember that there are many vehicles available at auctions. So, if you don’t win this specific vehicle, there will be another one just as good or even better coming up soon. 

Online Auctions 

There is also a third option that has gained popularity recently: online auctions. And there are excellent reasons for their growing popularity. These auctions have all the benefits of public and dealer auctions combined, with the added benefit of letting you bid on cars from the comfort of your own home. 

Example Online Auctions


Auto Auction Mall Online Auctions

With online auctions, you get the access, variety, and low prices of public auctions. With Auto Auction Mall, for example, you can browse hundreds of thousands of vehicles of all kinds and in all conditions. In many cases, you also get to bid on cars of much higher quality, as in dealer auctions. This is because many online auction platforms allow you to access online dealer auctions by using them as your proxy bidder. If you use the services of Auto Auction Mall, no auction is off-limits, not even the closed dealer auctions.

This, of course, is not without its risks. Because you are bidding on cars online, you don’t get the opportunity to inspect the vehicles yourself. You have to rely on photographs, vehicle history, and other data provided by the platform. However, these risks can be significantly reduced by only dealing with a reputable auction platform. So it is important that you research the auction platform beforehand, checking customer reviews and feedback. A reputable online auction platform will provide you with the best service and all the information you need. After all, their business is built on their reputation, and they won’t want to risk that. 

Online auctions provide you with a lot of information on each vehicle, including their history. They also provide you with very good customer support. At Auto Auction Mall, for example, you will find a team of specialists ready to help you and guide throughout the whole process. 

To answer in short, there are risks, but these can be minimized if you prepare for the auction properly. If you do so, you can walk home with a gem for a fraction of the price you would pay at your local dealer.