Car auctions are becoming more and more popular with the rise of online bidding. In addition, the ability to get a car without having to deal with a pushy salesperson while paying a lower price can seem an attractive alternative for many. Car auctions can be a great way to find a fully functional car and save money, but there is also a chance that the car you buy is not all it appears to be during the bidding. Auctions are a ‘buyer beware’ market in which landing a lemon is a definite possibility, but armed with a few professional tips, you should be able to find exactly what you need.
What types of cars are on sale at car auctions?
Though high end and collectible car auctions do take place, most auctions are for everyday, common man vehicles. As the economy tanked, so did credit scores, and auctions became an affordable alternative to a dealership. Government auctions tend to be pretty honest about the history of a car and its use for some type of government business. Old police cars, buses, and trucks can be in decent shape but look them over with a critical eye.
Public auctions are more likely to contain flood vehicles. Damaged vehicles that have only been cosmetically treated, and wholesale vehicles that could have potential problems. Expect and look for the worst in all potential buys. Be honest enough with yourself that if you do not have the tools or ability to correct mechanical problems, that you move on to something better. Check and double-check for matching VINs to see if a vehicle is a rebuild. If possible, arrive early to test drive at auctions where this is an option. And most importantly, remember you are looking for a deal. Know the car’s value before placing the first bid. Overpaying defeats the purpose of attending an auction.
Is it worth buying cars at auction?
Not all auctions are for beat-up junk cars, some are high end for classic cars that are highly sought after. In fact, in 2011 a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (see photo) was the highest car ever sold at auction. This fiery redhead went for a whopping 16,390,000 dollars in Monterey, California. This was almost 4 million dollars higher than the Ferrari that once held the title of the highest price at auction. This means that auctions could hold potential for classic car collectors if the car they hold is both in mint condition and well documented for maintenance. This is a growing option for some collectors looking to build or make room in their personal collections.
So if you are thinking about going to auction be aware of what you are getting into prior to raising that paddle the first time. Use common sense and know what you can and cannot do for a vehicle. Then, have fun, look around, and come home with something fun and functional. Happy bidding!