How to Prepare for an Auction

Although you can technically attend the auction with no prior experience, doing some essential research can save you a lot of money.

Given the current economic climate, not everyone can afford to walk into a car dealership and drive away in the brand new, zero-mileage ride of their dreams. Nonetheless, with errands to run and jobs to attend, a car becomes an unavoidable necessity. You can easily find a used midsize SUV, pickup truck, or car of your choice for a low price if you know where to look.

DeSoto History (the short version)

Attending a car auction is a good option for anyone looking to buy a used car for a low price. However, it carries a higher risk for the buyer than purchasing from a used car dealership. There is a lot of information you won’t know about your potential buyers, and you won’t be able to test drive the vehicle before purchasing it. One of the main reasons cars are sold at car auctions is that they aren’t in good enough condition to be retailed. Some people have spent too much time on the dealer’s lot, and auctioning is an alternative way to recoup some of their investment. Although you can technically attend the auction with no prior experience, you must do some important research before committing your money. Here are some things to consider before going to a car auction.

You recently discovered that you could get a well-maintained government vehicle at an auction for a song. If you anticipate smooth sailing, you are in for a rude awakening. Every government auction draws a large crowd, so you won’t be the only one looking for a good deal. It used to be that leaving a government with a bargain was a given, but competition has increased dramatically, and some vehicles now fetch more than they do at retail. So be cautious not to get sucked into bidding wars and get burned.

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Bring In a Professional

You will face competition at the auction from car experts such as used car dealers, taxi companies, and exporters who are knowledgeable about the value of the vehicles. Vehicles are sold “as is,” with no warranties, guarantees, or legal recourse. Furthermore, sellers will go to great lengths to conceal the car’s flaws. That is why you should bring someone familiar with automobiles to assist you in assessing the condition of the vehicle you are interested in.

Learn About the Players

Never bid in the first few auctions you go to. Instead, use them to conduct surveillance and get to know the players. Use all of the spying skills you’ve learned from the many covert films you’ve seen over the years to observe the behavior of other bidders. You will notice suspicious behavior, such as constant bidders bidding on every lot. These individuals are known as shill bidders, and they are on a mission to artificially inflate the prices and recognizing them can save you from falling into their devious traps.

Always double-check the VIN.

Deceptive sellers can easily change a car’s mileage and lie about the vehicle’s history. As a result, you should conduct a thorough background check on the vehicle. First, obtain the vehicle’s VIN and then check with the National Insurance Crime Bureau. You’ll learn about the current state of the title, mileage, total loss history, and other details. If some information does not match, it is a red flag to avoid the vehicle. In addition, comparing the VIN on the vehicle’s history report to the number on the plaque in the engine bay, the dashboard on the driver’s side, and the passenger side windshield reveals whether the car has previously sustained severe damage. If the VINs do not match, significant parts have likely been altered.

Keep an eye out for repossessed vehicles.

At a public auction, you are more likely to get the best deal. However, there is a catch. The majority of the cars are beaten up and in worse condition than those found at a government auction. Don’t give up hope, though, because banks bring the best inventory to public auctions. Bank repossessed vehicles are some hidden gems that lenders simply want to sell for a reasonable price to recoup losses. The majority are in good condition, with the interior being the main source of concern. ​​​​

A mechanically sound vehicle can be concealed by superficial scars.

Never let superficial dents and scars deter you from a potential purchase because the vehicle could have mechanically sound underpinnings. You’ll spend a lot less money fixing a few dents on the body than you will on resurrecting a nice-looking car with a problematic powertrain. What’s the difference between a simple paint job and an engine overhaul? However, this is only applicable in the case of a government auction. Scars on the body at public auctions frequently indicate a misused and severely beaten-down vehicle that even the seller didn’t bother covering up.

Take out the dipsticks

Pay attention to visible aspects such as tire condition, engine compartment condition, fluid leakages, interior condition, and more to determine if a car has been well maintained. A spotless engine bay, on the other hand, could indicate that the seller is concealing fluid loss or cleverly diverting the buyer’s attention away from other issues. Pulling the dipsticks is a surefire way to spot a poorly maintained vehicle. For a well-maintained vehicle, the oil and transmission fluid dipsticks should be clear and clean. The dipstick reveals a great deal about the condition of the vehicle’s internals. A strange color could indicate that the head gasket is leaking, and oil is mixing with the water coolant, or that the ATF is mixing with the engine oil.

Before bidding, find out how much the car is worth.

Long before the auction date, you should do extensive research on the auction house. First, look over their website and various listings, then compare prices on sites like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book. You can also use value estimation tools, such as the Hagerty valuation tool, to estimate the value of your property. As a result, you will be able to assess the average market value of your target vehicle and estimate its value. This way, you won’t go into the auction blind, and you’ll have a clear idea of what you want to bid on, which will help you avoid impulse bidding.

Set a limit for yourself and stick to it.

Auctions can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience, and the adrenaline rush can easily draw you into the bidding wars. You forget that you went looking for a deal and end up spending too much money on a car, which you later regret. Setting a realistic budget and sticking to it is the best solution. If the bidding exceeds your spending limit, you stop bidding to avoid paying more than the car is worth. Auctions are high-risk activities with no guarantee of success, and you can sometimes win by walking away from a deal.

Have Additional Funds for Shipping

If you win a bid at the auction, be prepared to spend money. You must pay the deposit, as well as taxes, title and registration fees, and insurance. Organize the source of the funds ahead of time, whether it’s a loan or self-financing, and make sure you have enough money left over to ship your car home. If you are attending an out-of-state auction, you should have a shipping budget. You don’t know the condition of the car you’re buying, so it’s risky to drive it cross-country only to break down on some remote stretch of highway with no help nearby.