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Used car auctions - learning the process



Used car auctions - learning the process

You are shopping for a used car, truck or SUV but have had no luck with calling on private sales you find in the classifieds or online auto sales sites. You find that used cars at the dealership cost more than you can afford or nearly as much as a new vehicle. If what you want to do is find a good used vehicle for a decent price, try attending and bidding on a vehicle at a used car auction.

There are different types of car auctions. Depending upon where you live they can be held by auction houses that require you to have a dealer's license, or know someone that does so you can go with them to bid on a car, or they can be an auction for the general public. In most states you can find an auction held by entities such as the county or a local police department that are open to the public.

Finding an auction to attend is the first step in this process. Your local paper typically will have auctions listed starting at least a week before the date of the auction. The Sunday paper is typically the day of the week auctions advertisements will be placed. Typically they are listed under an auction heading or even in the cars for sale section of the classifieds. Sometimes the auction will be listed in the legal publication section of a paper where bankruptcies and other legal notices are listed by the newspaper.

Banks and other financial institutions hold auctions as well, usually for repossessed vehicles, and advertise with signs at their locations or if you are a member of the financial institution and receive a newsletter it may also be mentioned in there. If you know your bank does have auctions but have not seen any listed lately, call and ask their loan department when the next scheduled public auction will be held so you can mark the date on your calendar to attend.

Once you have found a public auction for cars that you want to attend, try to get as much information as possible on the auction before you go to it. If it is your first time attending an auction of any type, you may find it helpful to attend an auction in which you do not plan to bid on items, just to get your feet wet and see how the whole auction process works.

When you are going to an auction where you plan to participate and bid on items, research it so that you will know what to expect. This means finding out what vehicles will be offered, some auctions have fliers that list the year and model and even condition of the vehicles. With this information you can find out the Blue Book or Nada Guide pricing on the car(s) you plan to place bids on so that you will not pay too much for the car.

In your research on the auction find out: what you will need to provide the auction house with in order to get bid, the minimum bid requirements, the type of payment they will need and how quickly it must be provided, auctioneers premium (if any) and what paperwork will need to be done if you do purchase an item at the auction.

Some auctions allow the car to be sold to the highest bidder while other auctions require that a minimum bid amount must be received or the auctioneer will buy back the car, or other item, and try again to sell it at a future auction event. You thus may find it helpful to find out if the auctioneer is allowed to bid or if you will only be bidding against other people from the general public.

Payment for a used car bought at an auction is usually required to be cash, certified check or other certified funds. Credit cards and personal checks are not generally accepted by many auctioneers. Financing is not usually available either so you will need to pay in full immediately after the sale for the item you purchased in the auction.

Some auction houses will allow a non-refundable deposit to be placed and the remaining balance to be paid within a certain period of time, less than a week normally. Understanding the payment rules for the specific auctioneer that is running the auction is crucial so that you do not win the bid on a car only to be surprised by the payment guidelines.

It should go without saying that you will want to check out the used vehicle that you want to bid on before the auction starts. Some auctions allow you to view the vehicle only while others may allow those attending the auction to sit in the car, look at the engine and even start up the car.

If you find an auto to bid on, make sure you are clear on what paperwork you would receive if you place the winning bid. You will want to make certain that the car can be registered by you once you leave the auction house with it. This means receiving a title for the car.

You want the title to be clean, thus not have any liens against it that would prohibit you from registering the car properly in your name or getting an inspection if your state requires one. Since state laws vary regarding how registration is done, it is helpful to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before attending an auction so you will be aware of what documents you will want and need for registration purposes if you place the winning bid on a car.

Buying a car at an auction can be a great way in which to purchase a used vehicle at a decent price. To be able to get a used car in this way takes some research on your part as well as knowing how to bid and knowing your limits. With these skills you can participate in public auctions and drive away happy in your "new" used car.


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2 Responses to "Used car auctions - learning the process"
  1. Beth

    Thanks for the information about the auctions. It was very helpful.

  2. Martin

    I am looking to buy a used car for around 10K, probably one from Honda, Toyota or Nissan (if any other name comes to your mind that has low maintenance cost and good resale value, please suggest). After cramming Craigslist and going through dealer offers I was wondering is there any other way to buy a used car- auctions! Why not?!