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Auctioning for a Car: An Insider’s Guide

Auctioning for a car is what more and more people are turning to, due to tightening of credit rules and eligibility in the ongoing economic crisis. The number of people who are able to purchase vehicles on credit has decreased, and there has been an increased interest in buying cars at auctions. This also means more competition during auctioning, so one must know who to get the best price and avoid all the pitfalls that can lead to spending more money than needed. These are the things you should know before you start checking out car auctions.

Types of Car Auctions

There are only two types of vehicle auctions: public and government auctions. The thing they have in common is the impossibility of testing the car before bidding on it. It means that you have to be very careful and make sure that a car fits your criteria. Also, the cars on government auctions usually have a known background with honest data presented, which is often not the case at public auctions. It happens that a car with a shiny body work is rotten inside when the hood gets lifted.

Being Too Smart Can Cost You

If you do not have any experience or expertise in car repairs, do not tell yourself that you can learn it in a short period of time. If if turns out that the car you scored after checking out online car auctions needs only a little repair, but you do not have the means or knowledge to do it, find someone who does to help you. It often happens that what looks cheap and simple often ends up requiring a lot of work and money investments. You will not feel pleased when, after a period of continuous repairs, you realize that you made a bad purchase, because you lost money and still have an irreparable vehicle.

Carefully Observe

You can only rely on your eyes, since test drives are not possible on either auction type. Check both interior and exterior in detail, and look for rusty corners, repaint spots, missing parts, scored brake disks, sheet metal surfaces that are not completely smooth, and other common car issues. You need to pay attention to them in order to score a good deal and make a secure investment at a car auction.

Avoid Cars with Suspicious Cover-Ups

You should stay away from a car that has more than two paint layers. It is all right for a car to have paint covers for some minor scratches, as long as the mechanical part of the vehicle is in perfect condition. However, it happens (especially at public auctions) that some serious damages are covered with a few layers of paint. Another sign for avoiding a certain vehicle is if any strange smell comes from the inside or outside of a car.


When you start considering a certain car, be sure to write down the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) from the base of the windshield. Then, check for the VIN on other places (trunk lid sticker, door, front of the engine block, dashboard, and driver side doorpost), and compare the numbers. If they do not match, then there is a great possibility that the car was in a major accident and rebuilt.

Who Else Is Bidding?

Be sure to observe all the other bidders at the auction. If you notice bidders who are active on every lot, then they may be trying to artificially pump up the price of vehicles. Get to know the players and visit several auctions to learn how they work before you participate in one yourself.

The best advice one can get on car auctioning is – take your time and be careful. Only in that case you will score a good deal. Get help from somebody with experience and inspect the vehicles thoroughly. Oh, and good luck.

Written By

Lillian believes that the question of business goes far beyond the maximization of profit through different money-grabbing ploys. Instead, she likes to think that ethical principles should be at the core of every commercial venture, paving the way for much more balanced distribution of wealth on a global scale. As a seasoned business consultant, she tends to advise her clients to always focus on long-term goals and sustainability, rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast schemes.rn

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