Going to car auctions in US - how to buy from public, government, surplus, salvage, luxury, online and dealer auctions.
  • Post last modified:November 29, 2023

Car Auctions In US: Where & How To Buy With Success

Looking for cheap cars for sale near you? Discover how car auctions in US work including private, dealer, and government auctions so you can buy a used car at a discounted rate and save. One upside of car auctions is that you can get a used car from the auction at a discounted rate, or find an old or rare vehicle that has been restored. Even though many people associate auctions with art and antiques, they’re not the only things that are sold at them. Vehicles are also popular among purchasers to buy. There’s more than just one type of vehicle auction.

What Are the Types of Car Auctions in US?

  1. Government Auctions: These auctions are conducted by various government agencies such as the police, IRS, and customs. They sell vehicles that have been seized, confiscated, or surplus.

  2. Public Auctions: Public car auctions are open to anyone, and they often feature a wide range of vehicles from different sources, including repossessions, trade-ins, and fleet vehicles.

  3. Dealer Auctions: These auctions are exclusive to licensed car dealers and are not open to the public. They provide dealers with an opportunity to buy used vehicles for their inventory.

  4. Online Auctions: With the rise of online platforms, car auctions have also moved online. These auctions allow participants to bid and purchase vehicles remotely through an internet connection.

  5. Salvage Auctions: Preowned salvage auctions specialize in selling vehicles that have been damaged by accidents, natural disasters, or other incidents. Buyers can acquire salvage vehicles for repair or parts.

  6. Luxury and Exotic Car Auctions: These specialized auctions focus on high-end luxury and exotic vehicles. They cater to collectors and enthusiasts looking for rare and unique automobiles.

  7. Classic Car Auctions: Classic car auctions showcase vintage and antique vehicles. They attract buyers interested in classic automobiles for restoration, collection, or investment purposes. They are considered auctions of cool cars.

Remember to conduct thorough research and due diligence before participating in any car auction to ensure the legitimacy and condition of the vehicles being auctioned. Download my Free Used Car Inspection Checklist.

Buying a car at auction pros and cons

Pros of Buying from Car Auctions in the US

  • Potential for lower prices compared to traditional dealerships
  • Wide selection of vehicles available
  • Opportunity to find rare or unique models
  • Possibility of purchasing repossessed or seized vehicles at a discount

Cons of Buying from Car Auctions in the US

  • Limited opportunity for test drives or thorough inspections
  • Higher risk of purchasing a vehicle with hidden issues
  • Lack of warranty or guarantees
  • Competition and bidding wars may drive up prices

Buying Cars from Government Auctions?

Most government surplus vehicles are auctioned, usually from different government departments when they purchase new vehicles and have to get rid of the old ones. These car auctions also offer vehicles that have been seized due to excessive traffic violations or other legal reasons. Government auctions provide a great opportunity for the general public to get their hands on some incredible items that were once owned by the government.

Every month, U.S. authorities seize thousands of vehicles from different agencies (IRS, DEA, FBI) or Police departments and auction them off to the public for incredible deals. General Services Administration Auctions (GSA) sells estate items including vehicles that the government no longer needs. Because many government surplus auctions are going on around the country it can be very time-consuming to visit each government auction site. GSA auctions are often scheduled in your local area, so be sure to visit your state’s website for more information and announcements about upcoming events.

What Is the Best Way to Buy Ex-Government Cars?

A better option is government auto auction service sites that act as aggregators and bring all these auctions around the country together in a user-friendly interface like my Gov-Auctions.org review video shows you. You can also find auction sold prices so you can compare prices to current market value to see how much you can save.

Online auctions for cars are now taking off too. Online car auctions are also great because they make it easier for people to browse and buy cars. You can either find near new vehicles or used cars depending on your preference. Bidding starts from interested buyers once these cars are listed on these sites.

So, if you want to save time and have the convenience of buying a car from your loungeroom then this is for you. Searching for a car is as simple as googling the site, registering, and browsing from there. But before you buy a car from someone online, make sure they have the right dealer license number and that their online address has been verified with the country’s information.

Online auto auctions make buying a used car easy. One of the great benefits of an online auto auction is that you can purchase a vehicle in a different city than you live in.

How to Buy from a Dealer Auto Auction Without a Dealer’s License?

A private buyer has the opportunity to secure a complimentary pass to access dealer auctions, even though they’ll be competing against seasoned professionals. Alternatively, they can enlist the assistance of a broker-dealer to bid on their behalf. Auto Auction Mall addresses the frequently asked question: “Do I need a Dealer’s License to bid on and/or buy these cars?” Their response is a game-changer. You don’t require a dealer license. They possess the necessary dealer license to participate in major dealer-only vehicle auctions, such as Copart, so you’re not burdened with this requirement. This opens up the opportunity for everyone to purchase vehicles from these exclusive auctions!

For the convenience of this service and the substantial savings it offers, they charge a modest flat fee of $299 (if the vehicle purchase price is under $3,500) or $349 (if the vehicle purchase price is $3,500 or above). Importantly, this fee is only applicable if you successfully purchase a vehicle. While there is a cost involved, it may lead you to the chance of acquiring your dream used car at an incredible bargain.

So, How Do Car Auctions Work?

So how exactly does a car auction work? Before the bidding starts, the cars are driven to where the auction will be held next. The auctioneer will introduce each car for bidders to see on stage and give them a story about it. You must pay attention to what the auctioneer is telling you. His words are legally binding when it comes to selling items here.

All the cars inside the auction are placed on sale for a certain starting price. If you’re interested in a car, all you need to do is preview it and set a maximum bid for it. Once the auction for this item has started, you can participate by bidding

The idea of a public car auction can be exciting, but there are also some risks to consider. Think about it before you buy an expensive car without getting a pre-check. Multiple bidders will be interested in your car, which could raise the price. Short bidding has a lot of benefits compared to traditional bidding methods. When no one else is left, you’ll know you have a successful bid on your hands.

Generally, the person with the highest bid gets their hands on the vehicle at an auction. You should be aware of certain requirements that some auctions might have – for example, they may require that bidders use cash. Before you start bidding, make sure you confirm the accepted mode of payment on the individual auction site.

It’s a good idea for any first-time auction attendees to attend a car auction before bidding. Doing this can acquaint you with the whole process and give you an idea of how everything works before actually buying anything.

Tips Before Bidding on a Car at a Vehicle Auction

The auction process is relatively simple but if you want to get the best possible car, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you go to an auction, remember these 4 tips:

  • Research and understand the auction process
  • Set a budget and stick to it
  • Inspect the vehicle’s condition & history as much as possible
  • Consider attending a few auctions as an observer before participating

How to Check the Car Before Bidding in 4 Steps at a Car Auction?

It’s not uncommon for there to be some badly damaged vehicles at vehicle auctions which is why it’s important to be sure of your vehicle before bidding for it. You don’t want to find out that you’ve won a car that’s totalled or full of water, do you? Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Check the car’s VIN against the one in the auction house records or report
  2. Run a free VIN check for accidents
  3. Get a complete Vehicle History Report to get a report on the vehicle’s history records.
  4. Get my free checklist for used car inspection and steps to help you weed out the lemons, and find the best car.

Set a Maximum Budget

Bidding wars can be a lot of fun, but the high level of competition and demand for popular vehicles can mean you end up paying too much. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to set a budget for yourself before bidding starts and stick to it accordingly.

When considering a vehicle, remember to take into account any additional costs (such as the cost of fuel or financing) that could add to the sticker price. To buy a car at auction, some things that need to be considered include: *A 10% to 20% “buyer’s premium” added on top of the sale price. Also, Reconditioning costs. They can be high depending on the condition of the vehicle and are unknown before going through with an auction.

In the End

Used car auctions have become a popular option for people looking to buy quality vehicles at an affordable price. Before attending a car auction, the first thing you should do is research the prices and specifications of the cars available. This way, you won’t get caught up in bidding wars and end up wasting too much money.

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