We Know: All About Car Auctions

What types of car auctions are there?

There are several kinds of car auctions, and they include:

  • Car repossession auctions. Cars that are repossessed by banks and other lenders are put up for sale through auctions.
  • Government and law enforcement auctions. Police and other law enforcement agencies, as well as federal, state, and local government agencies take possession of cars for many reasons and sell them through auctions.
  • Online auctions. These include eBay and other online auctions.

How do car auctions work?

Car auctions are often held in a particular location usually at a regularly scheduled time, such as once a month or four times a year. In most cases, anyone can attend and bid on a vehicle as long as they have the means to pay for the vehicle on the spot.

How do I find car auctions?

There are several ways to find them, including the following:

  • Phone or email federal, state, and local government agencies and inquire it they have car auctions, and if so, where and when. Do the same with banks and other lenders. Auction houses are another source for information on when lenders and other customers will be holding car auctions.
  • Online auction directories will locate car auctions for a fee. Choose one that offers a money-back guarantee.
  • Car auctions are occasionally advertised in newspapers.

Buying Tips

If you are interested in purchasing a vehicle at a car auction, keep the following in mind:

  1. Most car auctions give prospective buyers time to inspect the vehicles but you usually cannot drive them, and in some cases, you cannot even start them. Warranties are not provided, either.
  2. Before you attend a car auction, have an idea of what you want to buy, what it is worth, and how much money you are willing to pay. You should be able to get a history on the vehicle from its VIN number through CarFax or other vehicle history report companies. Be sure to also get the vehicle's mileage.
  3. If possible, have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic before purchasing.
  4. If you win the bid for the vehicle, you will need to pay immediately so you will need to arrange financing ahead of time if you do not have the full payment in hand. Inquire what payment methods they accept.
  5. There is usually less bidding competition for older vehicles that may have some cosmetic issues. With these cars, you are less likely to overpay in a "bidding war."

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