How to Get the Best Deal at a Car Auction

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If you want to score a great deal on your next car, we can show you how to fight the dealerships at the auction house.
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It’s no secret that the price of a used car has skyrocketed in recent months. With chip shortages, fuel price surges, and manufacturer delays, all of these problems have raised sticker prices. This is why automotive auction houses have seen a surge in retail bidders. If you want to score the best deal on your next car, we can show you how to fight the dealerships at the auction house.

Be able to Complete a Routine Inspection

We’re not saying that you need to know everything there is about cars. Not even close. However, a good rule of thumb is that you can successfully determine the problems with a car. The cars at an auction are there for a reason. Most of the cars you’ll find at an auction require some sort of work, ranging from squeaky belts to a complete front end overhaul. You’re getting the car “as is” which means they’re not going to sink money into fixing it to any standard. This leads to the second point.

Get there Early

The key to getting there early is so you can do your inspections. You don’t want to see the car, you want to bid for the first time on the auction table. If you get there early, you can walk around, see the car up close, and do a brief inspection on your own. It will be up to the current owner and the auction house how intensive this inspection can be. They’re not going to let you take apart the engine to check for engine build-up, but they will let you run the VIN to get a report. You can see previous accidents, title information, and owner history.

Know the Buyer’s Premium

Getting there early also gives you time to learn about the auction house itself. For many first time auction goers, they’re going to learn the dreaded words called, “Buyer’s Premium”. This is something that every auction house has, and it’s terrible. It’s the price they charge for letting you buy something at their auction. This could range from a few hundred dollars to 10% of the final purchase. Be aware of what it is so you can budget accordingly. If you only brought $10 grand and bought a car for $10 grand, you’re going to be short on the final payment. And they all demand payment up front.

Know your limit

This is important and something a lot of first time buyers forget. Set your budget before you even look at the lot. Know what you’re comfortable spending. You may get involved in a bidding war and get lost in the excitement of the whole thing. Winning is not as important as being able to pay your bills. If the price reaches a number you’re uncomfortable paying, just walk away.

Make your bids stand out!

This may seem counterintuitive, but trust us, it works. This doesn’t mean screaming louder than the other guy, but making your bid sound bigger than it is will certainly scare off the other bidders. This technique works best in the online auction world. If you bid odd numbers, you’re less likely to get undercut.

For instance, if the car is worth $5 grand and you bid $5007, people will either think someone overpaid or walk away from the bid. You will also beat out the people who bid the exact amount of $5,000 or even a dollar over.

Budget for Repairs

Again, you’re not getting a vehicle that’s been fixed up to sell. These vehicles probably have some issues with them. You arrived early because you read this article, and you knew your stuff when you inspected the vehicle. Say you need to put in around $2000 for repairs. You wanted to spend $10,000, but now your limit should be $8,000.

There’s a reason you’ll find a lot of mechanics at these auctions. They know how much it costs to fix something and they have the tools to do it. Make sure you’re comfortable with the repairs. Have a reliable mechanic on hand to send the vehicle to if you win.

Prepare to Ship your Car

You most likely didn’t walk to the auction. You’re going to need to find a way to get your car home with you if you win. Some auctions are out of state, and some are entirely online. Finding a reputable auto transport company is crucial to ensure your vehicle doesn’t sustain any more issues before you bring it home.

To find the best auto transport company with industry leading rates, contact AMPM Auto Transport. They have reliable drivers with full coverage insurance included right there in their quote.

With this knowledge, you can confidently walk into any auction house and find your next car for a fraction of the cost you would have paid elsewhere. Auctions are a great way to find a good deal on your next car. But they are also a place that feeds on the unaware. Do your research and you could be a bid away from your dream car.

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