Tips to Find a Good Deal at a Car Auction

With the price of used cars rising and the scarcity of new cars, it is no wonder that more people are turning to online auto auctions as a place to shop for their next ride. Because the auctions are online, it makes it very easy to get comfortable in your favorite chair and shop the supply of auction cars, trucks, boats and even motorcycles. Since online auctions cater to many sellers, you never know what you might find on auction day. Online car auction sites like can have anywhere near 300,000+ vehicles to choose from!

With all of those choices and car dealers, it is good to know how to find that diamond in the rough from all of those vehicles.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you hit the bid button on your computer:

Know How Much Money You Want to Spend

You have to know how much you want to spend including taxes, title, registration and auction fees before you even start to bid on a vehicle. In the heat of a bidding war, you could easily overspend your budget, so do a little research about how much a vehicle is worth before entering your bid.

You can find out a lot about a car’s worth by checking out the latest edition of Kelley Blue Book for both wholesale and retail pricing. By knowing the vehicle’s value, you can keep within your budget. If you do not get that vehicle, then there will be more vehicles to bid on, so keep trying.

Know Which Vehicle You Want to Buy


With all the vehicles that are available, it helps to know what make and model you want to purchase. While it may be hard to find the exact car you have on your wishlist, you can get close to it at an auction. You may even find out that you can get more car for less money than you thought. Maybe you budgeted for a base model, but once you looked at the cars available, you found out you can buy a better model than a base car.

Once you have decided on the make and model you want, check online for owner’s groups. Those are great places to find out what the most common problems are, how to fix them and if the problems are worth dealing with. You will also find out what other owners think about the vehicles. You can learn a lot about the vehicles by listening to current owners.

Know How Many Miles You Will Accept

Because cars and trucks of today come with better engines and electronics than years previously, you can expect to see some higher mileage vehicles at the auction. Vehicles are designed to go further than before, and if properly maintained may have a lot more life left in them. The average mileage is 12,000 miles a year.

Keep in mind that higher mileage vehicles have more wear on the parts, and you might find that it is time to change belts, brakes or tires on a vehicle with high miles. It helps if you know ahead of time what it costs to put new tires on a car, or change out a set of brakes or replace all the belts and hoses, as well as the gaskets. Knowing the costs will help you keep your bid in line.

Know How Old You Want Your Ride to Be


Older cars do have more wear and tear, so keep in mind how that vehicle was maintained before you bid on it. An older car with low miles might have been sitting in a garage for months or even years on end without any maintenance. If you buy it, you need to know how much it will cost to replace fluids, belts, hoses, brakes and even tires.

Vehicles that have been driven have had the maintenance done on them, so keep that in mind before you bid on an older, low mileage vehicle.

Know When to Quit Bidding

Bidding on a vehicle is exciting. Your adrenaline is pumping and you want to win the auction. However, if you are not careful, you could spend a lot more money than you planned. If you know someone who has gone to the auction, ask them for some money-saving tips and tricks on staying within your budget.

When you are ready to start shopping online for your next ride, check out some of these car auctions:

A Better Bid

A Better Bid is a registered Copart broker that offers over 300,000 wholesale, salvage and repairable cars every day. There are over 190 Copart locations and all bidding is 100% online from anywhere with internet access. No dealer license is needed. They have everything from cars, trucks, SUVs and more. They have the largest auction vehicle inventory in the USA, their inventory coming from banks, auto dealerships, finance companies and more.

Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions handles a variety of vehicles like collector cars, tractors, motorcycles and more. They have been hosting auctions since 1988 and are a leader in vintage and collector car sales. They have 20,000 lots a year and at least one auction a month. They even have a Road Art sales division selling collectibles.

Carriage Trade Public Auto Auction


Carriage Trade Public Auto Auction sells over 30,000 boats, cars, trucks and RVs a year. They hold their auctions every Monday, but if you cannot make it to their Conshohocken, PA lot, you can bid online. The car auctions are dealers only; however, they hold a GSA Fleet Vehicle Sale each month, which is open to the public.

Bellingham Auction

The Bellingham Auction is located in Bellingham, WA and is open to the public. They hold auctions that last seven days, and sell cars, trucks, government surplus miscellaneous items like radios, computers, housewares and more.


When shopping for a car, take advantage of tools like the Kelly Blue Book price guide, as well as other auction sites like IAAI, Direct Auto, Manheim and SCA. There are so many vehicles available that you should be able to find the one you like at the price you want to pay.

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