Car Auction Buyer's Guide

What Are Car Auctions?

Car auctions are just like any other auction you can attend, except they only sell cars. You usually get 2-3 days to view the cars before the auction starts. That's in addition to the time you get on the actual auction day. You will also get time before the auction starts to register for bidding. After the viewing and registration period, the auction will begin. Each car will be brought to the front for everybody to bid on. If you are the winning bidding, you will then go to the office to pay for your new car and fill out any necessary paperwork such as registration and transfer of title. Then you just drive off the lot in your new car.

What To Bring To A Car Auction

1. Driver's license of ID card: This will be needed to complete the required paperwork once you win the bid for your car.
2. Kelly's Blue Book: Bring this to look up the car's value so you don't end up paying more than what it's actually worth.
3. A Mechanic: Unless you know your way around the hood of a car, this is a must have for every car auction you attend. So have your mechanic give the car you're interested in a thorough inspection before you bid on it because these cars are sold in as-is condition. Meaning once you buy it you are responsible for all repairs it may need.
4. Money: Of course you'll need this if you plan on buying a car that day. Some auctions may require you to pay using a cashier's check. While others will allow you to put a deposit down and pay the rest within the next few days.
5. A friend: Make sure you bring a friend with you so you'll be able to drive your new car home while they drive the car that got you to the auction.

How Much Money Should I Bring?

This all depends on what type of car you plan on getting. To get an estimate of how much money you should bring, find out the car's trade-in value by using a Kelly's Blue book. Then add 15% on top of that price to account for taxes and auction fees.

How To Find A Car Auction Near You

Finding a car auction near you is probably the hardest part. You can look in the newspaper for auction announcements, ask a friend or save yourself from a headache by becoming a member of a car auction listing site. These sites give you a list of all of the auto auctions near your home, the cars they currently have awaiting auction and the time, date and location on the next one taking place. We've joined all of the ones we could find and have the reviewed the top 3 here.

Car Auction Dos and Don'ts


1. Bring a mechanic
2. Arrive early
3. Give each car a thorough inspection
4. Bring a Kelly's Blue Book
5. Remember to register to bid


1. Bid before you know the auction rules and regulations
2. Get caught up in a bidding war
3. Buy anything that has non-matching vin numbers
4. Think that just because a car looks good on the outside it will run properly once you buy it

How To Save Money

You can save money by just going to a car auction in general. But you can save even more money by doing the following things:

1. Only pay up to or around the car's trade-in value.

2. Before the auction begins, take note of which cars receive the most attention. These are the ones that you will end up paying more for because of the increased bidding competition. On the other hand, you'll get a steal by bidding on the cars that have received less attention.

3. Become friends with a local used car dealer. Ask them if you can go to a car dealer's auction with them. Where you can get a car for less than what you would pay for one at a regular public auction.

How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off

One of the biggest fears of attending car auctions is the fear of getting ripped off. But, you don't have to get scammed as long as you are a well prepared and informed buyer. Just follow these guidelines.

1. Give all cars you're interested in buying a thorough inspection. As stated previously, this is the most important aspect of attending a car auction. Although most cars are in good running condition, there are also some lemons in there and you'll be stuck with the bill of fixing it up once you buy it. So check the engine, transmission, electric system and any other parts that are costly to repair.

2. Check the vin numbers on all major parts of the car, such as the engine, doors, dashboard and trunk. If they don't all match don't bid on that car because non-matching vin numbers are an indication of a stolen vehicle or one that has been in an accident, flood or fire. All of which you don't want.

3. Know your facts. 90% of car auction membership sites are scams. Read this special report before joining one by clicking here.

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