Auto Auctions vs. Dealerships

by Joe Ferguson on April 15, 2013

car auctionsMany people choose to forgo the used car dealership to attend auto auctions when looking for a new (or “new-to-me”) car. You may be wondering what the benefits of purchasing an auction vehicle are versus buying at the traditional used-car lot – we’re here to help explain.

You can find cars at auction for much lower prices than you’ll see at car dealers. This is because there is less overhead when bidding on a car at public or government auctions. The fast-paced nature of the auctions allows for great deals to slip through the cracks as well.

Some of the best auto-auction deals can be found at government and local police auctions. Some of the cars have been repossessed and will go for very reasonable prices. Others are leftovers from local, state, or federal government fleets. These cars are generally used for a couple years, replaced by a newer fleet, then the leftover vehicles are sent to auction to be sold at cheap prices.

There is a caveat when buying an auction car, however. Make sure you know what you’re looking for at the auction. It’s easy to get caught up in the energy and excitement of an auto auction and become distracted from the task at hand – finding a cheap car.

You may be tempted to bid out of your range if you see a dream car from your childhood up on the auction block. Don’t deviate from the plan or you may end up dropping a lot more money than you had planned – and you’re at the auction to save money in the first place.

When you do finally find the car you want, make sure to thoroughly examine the vehicle. Be certain that you feel comfortable bidding on and taking this car home. Check that different parts of the car have corresponding VIN numbers, pull up the dipsticks to check fluids, and investigate any red flags that may pop up. You don’t want to turn a great auto auction deal into a nightmarish money pit.

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