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Shopping the Salvage Dealer Auction with an Eye for Resale

By Mike Richards Updated: 11/05/2019 Posted: 09/07/2017

When it comes to shopping for wholesale vehicles at the salvage dealer auction, finding cars with good resale value can be a walk in the park for experienced dealers – but for newcomers, it can be a confusing mess. More than one new dealer has walked away from an auction with a car that isn’t going to leave them much, if any, room for profit.

But you don’t have to give up on every car you see – after all, these are used vehicles, with all their dings and issues on display. Here’s what you need to look for at a salvage dealer auction to ensure that you’ll be able to sell that car the minute you get it home:

Can You Clean It Up?

A car’s value can improve quite a lot if it’s just clean. Take a look at the carpets and upholstery of the car if you can. Are they dirty, but intact? That’s an easy fix that you can do to raise your resell price. Same with the various plastic pieces inside and out. So long as the various parts aren’t rusty or broken, it’s easy to clean up a car for reselling, and you’ll get a lot more out of it after a thorough trip to the car wash.

Will This Car Keep Your Lot Refreshed?

One of the biggest mistakes made by used car dealers is keeping the same inventory on the lot week after week. Customers need to get the impression that your cars are worth buying, and they won’t if it doesn’t look like you ever sell any. So, while this car may not earn you a huge profit margin, is it going to earn you more sales overall just by refreshing your lot? That’s a great secondary benefit.

Can You Do Minor Modifications?

Things like getting rid of small dents and scratches, or adding seat covers to hide minor burns or cracks, can increase a vehicle’s resale value as much as double what it may have been. These tasks can be completely simple, like spray painting any scratches on the wheel wells, or a little more involved, like adding an extra clear coat to the body.

Do You Know its Story?

Customers like to buy vehicles that they trust, and they are willing to pay more for a car that has a transparent history. If a car on the lot at the salvage dealer auction doesn’t look like the best deal you’ve ever seen, but it does come with plenty of information about its history, you’ll be able to pass that trust on to your customers. Look for things like original mileage statements, a print-out of the added options, a list of any work that has been done on the car, and so on.

Keep these things in mind and you’ll find that dealer auctions may not always pay big, but they do keep your business stocked with good products if you’re careful.