Used Cars

Online Car Auctions: The Reality of Run & Drive Vehicles in Used Car Auctions

By Daisy Emah-Emah Updated: 05/19/2023 Posted: 06/16/2022

Buying a dream car should be easy and cheap right?

That’s why today, online car auctions are steadily9 replacing traditional auctions. With the aid of the internet, this has made auctions readily accessible and available to more people plus the comfort of being able to bid from anywhere. 

Online car auctions are an awesome option for auto buyers to land great deals on their dream cars from the comfort of their homes. Different auction platforms have their procedures and you have to do your research before committing to one. Typically you will have to register on the platform, make a security deposit, and start bidding. After you’ve won the auction, you make a payment and have your car delivered to you. 


 It’s a seamless process once you’ve done your due diligence and followed the process.

You can start by searching for your dream car with wholesale auctions like Auto Auction Mall, Copart, IAAI, etc. 

Considering that wholesale auctions have hundreds of thousands of vehicles listed for purchase, It is 99% certain you will find one that works for you. The vehicle status, however, might be listed as rin & drive, non-runner, enhanced vehicle, etc. 

The preferred status to avoid buying lemons (vehicles that can’t be restored) is run and drive and in this article, we will talk about Run & Drive listing on online car auction platforms and what you need to know.

What is Run & Drive

The term run & drive has left many online auction buyers in perplexing situations. Sometimes they land vehicles that are clearly stated as run & drive but end up not running or driving. This has caused a lot of issues in the online car auction market.

Run & Drive listing does not necessarily mean the vehicle is in top-notch condition – though, oftentimes than not, it is. This status simply means that on the day the vehicle arrived at the auction clearing house, it was started and moved forward and backward under its power a feet or two, then the status run and drive was applied. However, after being tested on the day of arrival, it was not tested again. 

So How is a Vehicle Listed as Run and Drive?

A seller takes his/her car to the auction, and it’s checked into the auction clearing house lot. At the time, the vehicle was checked into the lot the following things happened and it was listed as run & drive:

  1. The vehicle started – either with or without a jump. This means that the key was put into the ignition and the vehicle started. Whether it was jump-started or started on its own, the bottom line is that it started. The vehicle is listed as run & drive once it starts. 
  2. The vehicle is listed as a run & drive if it could be put in gear. At the clearing house, the vehicle is turned on, put in gear and it responds. Automatically it is listed as a run-and-drive vehicle. 
  3. Lastly, a vehicle is run & drive if it can move forward with its power. 

Listing a vehicle as run and drive is based on the conditions stated above. There is no guarantee that the vehicle listed as run and drive can be driven long distances on the roads or highways. There is also no guarantee that the vehicle will start with/without jump-starting it. Neither is there any guarantee that the vehicle moves forward or backward on its own accord when you pick it up from the auction house.   

All the information provided on the auction site is about the vehicle and is information given by the auction clearing house as to when the vehicle arrived at the lot. It is the responsibility of the buyer to confirm and carry out research on the vehicle they want to purchase. 

When you purchase a vehicle from a wholesale auction site, the vehicle is sold as it is, where it is with all faults. No information is verified by the auction companies, you have to do your due diligence to avoid landing a lemon. 

After the initial test done by the auction clearing house on the day of arrival, the vehicle could have stopped working for various reasons. This is why the auction clearing house or auction platforms do not give a guarantee on your purchase. 

How Do I Avoid Issues With My Purchase?

Since no wholesale auction platform gives guarantees on the condition of the vehicles on their platform, it is your sole responsibility as the buyer to inspect the vehicle. 

Run a vehicle history report or a VIN check on the vehicle before bidding. The vehicle history report is a report that contains information about the vehicle. It has information on the title, odometer reading, damage, maintenance history, etc. You can request a detailed vehicle report from platforms like Carfax for a few dollars. Auto Auction Mall also offers a free VIN check on its platform for customers who have registered and made a security deposit.  

The VIN check or vehicle history report, no matter how detailed, only provides records of the state of the vehicle before it arrived at the auctions. For a more detailed report on the current condition of the vehicle, request a physical inspection. This can be done by a friend or family member but we recommend a professional or using the services of an inspection company.  

Requesting a physical inspection will cost you a lot more than a vehicle history report or VIN check. But you are sure to get the current state of the vehicle usually through a 50-point checklist inspection. You will also be able to verify the run and drive status. You can search the internet for reputable inspection companies or have a professional mechanic you can trust to inspect the vehicle. 

Further Reading

  1. What Should I Check For When Buying a Car
  2. 5 Sites You Need to Check Before Buying a Used Car 
  3. Salvage Cars Sale: Buying Repairable Cars for Sale
  4. How to Get the Best Vehicle History Report on Auction Cars for Sale 

How Do I Get Started With My Purchase?

Now you have a better understanding of a vehicle listed as Run & Drive. It’s time to take it to the next level – making your purchase.

Before getting started you have to do your research on the best platform for you. Once that is done you can get the ball rolling.

Auto Auction Mall is an online platform that offers no registration or sign-up fees. You also do not require to own a dealer’s license to bid with Auto Auction Mall. 

Great right?

Auto Auction Mall also has a support team that guides you through the entire buying process. So you have a shoulder to stand on to avoid mistakes and end up spending more than required. 

Sounds like a win-win situation!

How do you get started? All you have to do is sign up for free to get started. That easy!