The best way to buy salvage cars is from used car auctions. It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a used car lot and you want to increase the number of vehicles you have at your disposal at your dealership or if you’re just a nights-and-weekends hobby mechanic looking for a fun project car – an auction is your best bet for finding your next salvage vehicle.
For the most part, salvage cars have been bought and sold at auction for decades. Between police impound vehicles and cars coming off lease that haven’t resold, salvage cars are often traded at auctions. For the uninitiated, the experience can be overwhelming. Even a used car auction veteran can find these events emotionally and physically exhausting.
Thankfully, used car auctions have branched out online – and shopping for salvage cars online can have some serious advantages.
Greatly Reduced Stress
As previously mentioned, used car auctions are inherently stressful events – especially for first-time bidders. In comparison, using an online auction to buy a salvage car is a completely different experience altogether, as you can do it sitting down in the comfort of your own home.
When you approach an online car auction when you’re calm, cool and collected, this also makes you a better bidder as well. Without the flash and noise of an auction venue assaulting all of your senses and making it hard to think clearly, you can make much more rational decisions regarding what salvage cars to bid on, which ones to skip altogether, and how much you’re willing to bid in total on each of the cars that cross your path.
There are drawbacks to shopping online for salvage cars, of course. The biggest one is that you won’t have a chance to see and feel a car up close before you purchase it. Attending auctions in person allows you to make more informed decisions on salvage vehicles if they just “look” wrong. This helps you to avoid making the wrong decision on salvage vehicles that could end up costing much more than you thought they would to fix and get back on the road.
However, there are some things you can do with an online auction when it comes to checking the condition of salvage cars up on the block that you can’t do while you’re actually there in person. Most auction sites will include a bit of information about each of their cars – usually a picture and some vital statistics like odometer reading – and one of the types of information is often the car’s Vehicle Identification Number.
This VIN can be entered into one of many different vehicle history report services, which will then give you a detailed report on what the car’s been through in the past. This can be just as accurate – or even more so – when it comes to picking out cars that have been damaged in ways that makes them more expensive or problematic to repair, such as in the case of being caught in a bad flood that might have shorted out the interior electronics.
It can also clue you in as to why a seemingly perfectly good-looking car is on the lot as a salvage vehicle by revealing that it was reported stolen and then found several weeks later in decent condition. With recovered-theft salvage vehicles usually considered the best kind of salvage cars if they are found intact, learning about the car’s status as such, well before bids on the car go live, can help you plan your bidding strategy.
The Bottom Line
All in all, buying salvage cars through an online auction site is advantageous, as long as you keep aware of the limitations and leverage the benefits properly. It’s up to you if you want to decide on bidding over the Internet, or if you would be more comfortable attending a used car auction in person to pick up a new salvage vehicle to restore and/or resell. The choice is yours, so choose wisely.