What Should I Know When Buying a Car Online in an Auction?

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 06/14/2017

In recent years, consumers have been turning toward alternative methods of purchasing a vehicle. The reason for this is simple. Car dealerships seem only interested in their bottom lines, and good deals – particularly on used vehicles – seem harder and harder to come by as a result.

In addition to services like Craigslist, these consumers have turned their attention toward something known as online car auctions for buying car online. Websites that provide this service give consumers unique access to dealer auctions taking place across the country. Because of this, they’re able to enjoy savings that often total in the thousands of dollars on the purchase of used cars and salvage ones.

Hearing this, you might be interested in making use of online car auctions to purchase your next vehicle. If so, then read on to learn about the things you should know before you get started.

Research Is of Paramount Importance

Online car auctions provide access to a staggering inventory of vehicles of all makes and models and in a variety of conditions. Because of this, conducting thorough research on vehicles upon which you might bid is of paramount importance.

Most importantly, you will want to request vehicle history reports for cars (Honda, Chevrolet, Ford F-150, Jeep, Audi, Toyota, etc.) upon which you intend to bid. Since you will not be able to inspect the vehicle in person, you will need to rely on these reports to learn what you need to know. That said, if it’s necessary, you may be able to arrange for an in-person inspection through the online car auction site with which you’re working.

Cast a Wide Net

Part of getting the best deal in an online car auction is about knowing when to walk away. Remember that the cars available change by the day and that if the bidding gets too steep, there’s always something else just around the corner. Taking that a step further, though, don’t hem yourself in. Be willing to consider alternatives to what you might be looking for, as this will often prove the best way of getting the best deal possible.

Use All Help Available

Many online car auction sites understand that consumers will be new to the process. For this reason, they provide their users with ample help when it comes to searching for, bidding on and winning vehicles. This help often comes in the form of an auction specialist, whose expertise with respect to dealer auctions should not be underestimated. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of this individual, as this will help to draw your attention to the best vehicles for your needs and budget.

Prompt Payment and Final Sales

Finally, remember that buying a car in an online car auction means making a full cash investment – there is no financing available. For this reason, always be prepared to make full payment of your bids. Typically speaking, one only has about five business days to complete final payment. Failing to make that final payment could result in the loss of your deposit or perhaps even the loss of the car that you’ve won.