7 Tips for Buying a Car at Auction

Posted on
3 min to read

With the low inventory of used cars in the market, finding your ideal vehicle has become more challenging. Today’s buyers are now exploring public auctions as a way to find their next used cars. But bidding against dealers who have more experience at these events can be intimidating—although worth it as many individuals who buy cars at auction report spending less than what they’d pay at a dealership or through a private sale, especially at larger auctions. 

Remember, if you buy a car at auction, you may need reliable auto transport to make sure you can get your vehicle home safely. 

If you’re new to attending a public car auction, here are seven helpful tips for buying a car at auction:  

  1. Research market prices
    With a short supply of new and used cars, wholesale prices seem to change on a daily basis. Make sure you research current market prices for your top vehicle picks to know a deal when you see it and have the confidence to walk away if the bidding goes too high (see tip #6). 
  2. Know your budget
    Make sure to review the inventory list of the vehicles being shown at auction. There may be hundreds to choose from and you’ll want to make sure that you’re spending your time and energy on the vehicles that fit into your budget. Part of that budget should include auto transportation costs if needed to get your potential new purchase back home. 
  3. Inspect your target vehicles
    Once you identify the cars that fit into your budget you want to make sure that those vehicles pass an inspection checklist. Things to include on your checklist are worn tires, fluid leaks, physical damage, etc. Keep in mind that many auctions do not let you start the vehicle or even go inside them. If the auction is online, you obviously will not be able to conduct an in-person inspection. 
  1. Understand the purchase terms
    Is a deposit required? If so, how much? Is it cash only? When is the full payment required on a winning bid? Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before placing that bid. 
  2. Don’t bid too soon
    Auctioneers start many lots with a higher initial price. This serves as an entry point and if the auctioneer can’t get anyone to initially bid, they will ask for a starting price. This is generally how things work, so be patient not to jump in too soon and bid more than you initially have to. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to walk
    This seems the easiest and most logical thing to remember, but in practice, it is one of the hardest things to do. People get caught up emotionally with the excitement of the auction and fall in love with a vehicle that they just have to have. Just remember that auto auctions are held quite regularly, so if you don’t get the deal you were looking for, another auction is most likely right around the corner. Of course, if the vehicle you have targeted is rare, walking away may be a tough thing to do! 
  4. Have a plan for dependable auto transport
    You may not want to drive your vehicle home, especially if it’s a luxury model or a classic car. Or maybe you drove yourself to the auction and didn’t bring a car trailer. Using a reputable auto transport company can take away the stress of transporting your vehicle and get your auction purchase home safely. Here’s how auto transport works

An auto auction can be a great experience for those looking for a different way to buy a car. Just know what you’re getting yourself into and try to enjoy the experience.   

Who to trust for professional auto transport 

Montway Auto Transport is an industry-leading broker that is dedicated to providing vehicle owners with top-quality car transport services. Read what our customers say about their experience with Montway

“I bought two cars at a recent auction in Wisconsin that needed to be transported to Medina, Minnesota. Neither of the cars was operable. A friend of mine referred me to Montway since he had great experiences with them in the past in transporting his expensive, exotic vehicles. I contacted Montway and was pleased to be greeted by a person and not a voice response system. The person was very helpful and very knowledgeable. My autos were delivered on time and with great care. I will contact Montway next time and recommend them to anyone looking for auto transport! 

Tony Valento, 10/9/22

“First time using any auto transport service. Of course, I read reviews for several companies. Montway was not the cheapest nor most expensive. Had good reviews, has insurance, and was familiar with Copart Chicago. They walked me through the process, even made sure I had the driver’s phone number! The vehicle arrived safely, no damage, driver was very patient and cordial. Would use again if necessary. Thanks!”

Michael Bakalis, 3/15/22

“Super quick pickup and delivery of an auction car purchase. Montway was also less costly than other carriers with less reputation. I will call them again when I need something with wheels moved.”

Tom Novak, 11/9/21

When you purchase a car at an auction and need to ship it across the country, Montway can help. In 2022, we arranged shipment for over 200,000 vehicles and have the experience to transport your auction purchase. Request a free car shipping quote or call 888-666-8929 to speak with a Montway agent.

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