Interest in these auctions has boomed as the economy stays stagnated and credit rules have tightened. Buyers who formerly could qualify for auto loans on new or solid used cars now find they need to shop with cash. But the United States is a country built around the automobile, and it's a lot easier to get a job if you have a car to drive to the interview, so for many people car auctions are a way to fill the need.
The majority of the vehicles found at local auctions will need some work done to them in order to be deemed “road-worthy.” Knowing this before you ever set foot on the grounds is a major part of deciding if this is the right way for you to source an automobile. A low bid on a crappy car has the potential to leave you stranded on the side of the road, so if you aren’t a savvy DIY wrencher, you’d better have one hell of a trustworthy mechanic.
"At a government auction it's, say, a county that has 30 or 40 police cruisers it needs to get rid of. And they want to sell all of it," Lang says. "All the vehicles have known histories—how they were maintained, used and fixed, and their mileage is virtually always honest. You'll know what you're getting." Still, you don't get to drive a car before you bid on it. So you'd better have a sharp eye. Make that a sharp, trained, cynical, wary, pessimistic and rabidly suspicious eye.
The bidding started out fairly tame. Individuals there bought a beat up Impala for $525, a Chevy Astro van for $425, and the shittiest Chrysler PT Cruiser I have ever seen for $300. As for the awesome Ford Escort wagon? Well, it didn’t do so hot, in part, Kevin told me, because it’s so light and has low scrap value, and because parts are in low demand:
If you're looking for live auctions, AuctionZip is the place to go. These live auctions are events that users can view right within their web browser, and they can bid for items online at the same time as bidders on the auction floor. With live bidding, users can access auctions around the world and get in on all the action without any software to download or special tools to buy. The website lists auctions that are live or are upcoming soon. After you register to bid, you go straight to the auction, where you watch what is happening and bid in real time if you see something you like.
Private auctions are held on-site at your dealership. Each vehicle is driven either underneath the tent in front of a self-contained mobile operations unit. In some cases we can even transform a building at your dealership into an auction arena. These dealer only auctions are conducted live by an auctioneer and are designed to sell 40-200 vehicles. Operated much like a conventional auto auction, these private auctions are easily adapted to the specific needs of your dealership, with even simulcast sales available.
Another problem that you might face with local police auctions is finding information related to their occurrence. You can find the information on websites that deals particularly in government auctions. After acquiring the information of its timings, you need to call the local police department, and register your bidder number. Bids only from registered bidders are considered in these seized car auctions. It is advisable to obtain Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) prior to bidding for the car and run it through the Carfax website. It helps in checking the past history and allows you to buy a clean car.
Do the homework, sometimes even ‘bad’ car can be a great deal at an auction. I recently bought a minivan that was listed as having a blown transmission. A little research discovered this is a common problem for that make and year. At the preview, I had my mechanic (whom I trust) on speed dial and got an estimate on the spot to replace the transmission with a new, 5-year warrentied rebuilt one. The bids on the van were low (who’d buy a vehicle with a bad transmission?), and even with the purchase price, the cost of the new transmission and towing to my mechanic, it still came in way below KBB value. And I know it has a worry-free transmission for the next 5 years. So don’t let even a ‘problem’ car scare you off if you’re willing to do the homework and hassle of getting it fixed.
But the competition at county auctions is brutal and it's only getting stronger. "Taxi companies want the old cruisers to use as cabs," Lang says. "And often there are government employees who are going after a vehicle that they used on the job and grew fond of. A lot of the school buses and trucks get bought by brokers looking to ship them overseas to poorer countries that will use them for public transportation. These are guys who go to government auctions all the time, know what to pay and know a lemon when they see it. You won't be the only bargain hunter out there."
Although car auctions might help you in buying a dream car within your budget, it is a fact that these events are not publicized to larger extent. Experts feel that if there is an increase in the number of bidders at these auction, the final bid price will be affected. Again, dealership sale also gets affected with such flocking and it always slides down. Henceforth, you should expect that the auction information will always be hidden from the public. You should try to catch such data on websites that work as search engines for car auctions.
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Regardless of their mileage or whether they’re running properly or not, most vehicles at auctions tend to get labeled “as is” in order to prevent any headaches for the auction house down the line. So don’t go in expecting warranties or the ability to sue someone for selling you a total piece of crap. Auctions are like gambling in a lot of ways, and the only way to win is to pay to play.
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After registering for the auction of your choice, begin to figure out a budget. Setting a budget helps relieve anxiety and stress that can come along with auto auction participation. Know your budget and stick to it no matter what the circumstance. When the budget is set, you can start to look into your finances. If you are going to need a loan, determine who or what will be your financial lender. Some auto auction firms provide pre-approved loans; if that is a route, you are comfortable taking. Banks and credit unions are other options for obtaining a car loan.
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