How to Find the Best Deals on Auction Cars for Sale

When people think of auction cars for sale, they often imagine a live auction put on by the likes of Barrett-Jackson or Mecum, where collector-car enthusiasts auction cars for sale in Ohio gather in a grand arena to watch the bidding action. But there are plenty of other places where you can find vehicles for auction, from university fleets and government agencies to estate sales and the websites of individual dealerships. The basic process works the same at each type of auction, although you might be able to avoid the pomp and circumstance and instead take advantage of lower prices and more selection.

The main reason that cars go up for auction is to sell quickly and hassle-free to dealers, who can usually recoup the purchase price plus a profit with resale. Some cars, however, may be so unattractive or damaged that they simply cannot command a reasonable price. The best way to find a good car for auction is to do your research ahead of time, and then attend the auction with a set budget in mind. Getting involved in a bidding war at an auction is exciting, but it can also be costly, and you should try to stick to your maximum limit.

Another thing to consider before you start bidding is the fact that most auction houses will charge a buyer’s premium, or fee that is added to the final bid price. This can tack on hundreds or thousands of dollars to your final cost. You should also factor in any reconditioning costs that may be required to make a particular vehicle ready to sell.

Some vehicles for auction come directly from dealerships, while others are repossessed by banks or come from insurance companies that declare the car a total loss after an accident. These are known as repo or salvage vehicles, and Edmunds notes that they tend to sell for lower prices than other auction cars.

Banks that own used-car lots are another source for repo vehicles, which they usually sell at an auction to turn over the inventory and recoup some of their losses. You can find some decent deals on these, but you should carefully inspect the vehicle before bidding to ensure that you’re not buying a lemon.

Many auction locations offer (at a premium) pre-sale inspection or test-driving services, which will help reassure buyers that the vehicles they’re purchasing have not been abused or damaged. Some auctions also provide post-sale inspections for a premium, which can help buyers spot mechanical or frame damage issues that might not be evident upon initial inspection.

It’s also a good idea to bring a trusted mechanic to the auction, especially for high-value vehicles that you can’t afford to lose. A mechanic can provide valuable insight into a vehicle’s condition, helping you avoid a potentially expensive mistake.