The Best Ways To Buy Cars At Auction

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If you’re interested in buying a car at an auction, you’ll have a choice between government and public auctions. Once you find the type of auction you’re looking for, look at the auction’s sale catalogue, and do as much research as you’ll about the cars that will be up for sale. On the day of the auction, be sure to arrive early so that you’ll be able to have enough time to register and inspect the cars on the lot.

Do i need an auction license to buy a car?

Whether you would like a license to shop for a car at auction depends on the type of auction it’s .

Dealer auctions are primarily for car dealers looking to feature used cars to their inventory, and you’ll be required to possess a dealer’s license to participate.

Public auctions are hospitable everyone, no license required. There also are websites that allow the general public to participate in certain dealer auctions — these sites may require fixing an account and paying some kind of fee or deposit, but no license.

For both dealer and public auctions — online or face to face — the kinds of vehicles you’ll find might include repossessions, cars seized by the local local department , salvage title cars declared a complete loss by an auto insurance firm , government-seized and surplus vehicles, title pawns and cars that don’t get sold at dealerships.

Easy ways to shop for cars at auction

1. Finding an Auction

Search online for state vehicle auctions near you. To start, type in your location and “vehicle auction” into an online search bar. If you’re curious about government-owned vehicles especially , check out the websites of local or national agencies for relevant information.

  • If you’re curious about cars owned by the U.S. government, look for auctions near you on the GSA’s auto auction website:
  • you’ll start to look for government surplus auctions at this website:
  • Police departments also routinely auction surplus vehicles, so you’ll want to seem at their websites.

2. Look for public auctions in your local newspaper or online

you’ll find notices for public auctions within the classified section of a newspaper. If you’re searching online, simply type your location and therefore the term “vehicle auction” into your internet search browser.

3. Stick with government auctions if you would like more transparency

At a government auction, you’ll be ready to buy used police cruisers, school buses, and other fleet cars employed by a spread of state agencies. the knowledge government auctions provide about the vehicles up purchasable is usually far more reliable and comprehensive than what you’ll see at any public auction.

At a government auction, you’ll have access to the upkeep and repair histories of vehicles.
due to the transparency of state auctions, competition are often fierce, so it’s going to be difficult to seek out an honest deal.

4. Buy a car at a public auction as long as you’re prepared to repair it

Most cars you’ll find at public auctions are old or damaged. Unlike government auctions, most public auctions aren’t transparent about the histories of the cars being sold. For this reason, you ought to assume that any car you discover at a public auction would require fixing.

Avoid cars that are sold as ‘Miles Exempt.’ This term means the auction doesn’t guarantee the accuracy of the mileage displayed on the car’s odometer.
You won’t be ready to test drive a vehicle before bidding thereon , so lookout before making a final judgment .

5. Research cars that interest you online

Many auction houses will put out an inventory before the day of the auction with the make, model, and year of all of the cars which will be auctioned off. If this is often the case, detect a couple of cars that you’re curious about and do some research about them, like watching their resale value and safety records.

  • The auction may even publish vehicles’ VINs (vehicle identification number) online, which you’ll use to see their car history reports.
  • inspect the Kelly Blue Book to ascertain the market price of a selected make and model:

6. Read over the auction’s rules thoroughly before time

While auction cars are generally less expensive than cars sold at dealerships, buying one may be a riskier investment. this is often because most auctions don’t guarantee the standard of their cars. Most also won’t accept returns if you’re unsatisfied. confirm you’re comfortable with all of the auction’s terms before purchasing a car.

you’ll usually find the terms and conditions of auction sales on the auction house’s website.


  • If you’d like to bid on a former U.S. federal government-owned vehicle, attend a U.S. General Services Administration Fleet Vehicle Sale. At the GSA’s auto auction website, you can search for auctions near you and even download a list of the cars that will be up for sale.
The Best Ways To Buy Cars At Auction

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