Copart Auto Auction Courts Public Buyers

by Don Elliott on September 20, 2011

Finding a car with a good used car value at an affordable price is a big challenge for the retail car shopper. One place that might have some cars with good used car values is a “salvage” auction that allows public buyers. The largest salvage auto auction chain in the world is Copart, a publicly traded corporation with 140 auto auction locations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Copart has been consistently adjusting their buying model to make it easier for public buyers to participate in their car auctions. Copart’s basic business model is selling collision-damaged vehicles for insurance company consignors. These badly damaged cars are generally not available to public buyers.  This is because these cars are often deemed a total loss and can only be sold for parts.

Why choose Copart? They offer over 50,000 cars for auto auction sale every day. Last year they sold over 300,000 used cars with clean titles. Most of the cars available to a public buyer will need some kind of auto repair before daily usage. If you have some mechanical aptitude or a good friend who is a mechanic, it is possible to end up with a pretty good deal. It is also possible to end up with a nightmare! Assess your situation, do your homework, and then watch a few auction sales online to see how it works.

Copart identifies cars with what are called “clean titles.” These are cars that can be used for personal use. The Copart website has been criticized as difficult to navigate for those who are not regular users. It will take some time to find cars that fit your needs and are located at auto auctions in your area.

Signing up to bid has gotten much easier. Copart now offers up to $1000 in buying power with no deposit required. $1000 doesn’t buy much of car these days, so arranging for more “Buying Power” is a good idea. Copart requires a refundable 10% deposit for limits in excess of $1000.

All Copart car auctions are held online. There is no bidding in the auto auction lanes. The car auction is live in the sense that all auction bidders are online at the same time bidding against one another. The bidding stops when the car exceeds the minimum reserve and the electronic engineer accepts the highest bid.

Successful auto auction bidders have two business days after the auction sale day to pay for their cars. Copart will arrange assistance with transportation for cars that don’t run or need transported to your location.

Check with your local Copart auto auction for a complete list of fees before you participate in one of their car auctions. It is important for you to realize the total cost of the car you are bidding for online. There will be an auction buyer’s fee, a gate fee, and possibly a registration fee. If the car is not paid for on time, there could also be a late fee. Storage fees will accrue if you can’t pick up your car in 7 days or less.

Check it out! Copart is looking for your business and changing their business model to make it fit for you. Copart is a great place to find a car with a decent used car value, but buyers beware. Buying cars at a salvage auction is not for everyone.

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