Auto auctions offer experienced consumers the possibility of great car values at unbelievable low prices if you know what you’re doing.  Auto dealers have been the primary benefactors historically, finding auctions to be excellent places to sell off trade-ins as well as to buy for resale.   Vehicle auctions are becoming more and more accessible to the ordinary person, but as with many “good deals,” let the buyer beware.  In other words, an auto auction is also an excellent place to be a cheap junker!

Bloomberg Business Week provides some sensible tips for the inexperienced, prospective buyer.  In general, be aware that you’re buying a car as is, without the detailing or fixing up that a car lot will do.  That represents some of you savings as well as certain risks.  Depending on the auction format, in person versus on line, you may get little to no opportunity for a thorough inspection.  Ascertaining the value of a prospective buy is a much greater challenge.

1.  Arrive early.  This will give you time to get as much information as possible about a car or cars that interest you.  If you can get a VIN number, then you should do a CARFAX to determine if there are any serious problems in its history such a flood damage or a major accident.  The article doesn’t mention it, but having someone with experience in auto mechanics is a good idea, if you’re not a pro yourself.

2.  Know what you can afford and are willing to pay.  Do not let the emotion of the moment draw you into over-bidding your resources.  Successful auction buyers don’t buy on impulse.

3.  Bloomberg Business Week strongly emphasizes being sure that the paperwork is in order, that the title is clear, and that there really is a car (for on line auctions) before paying out the full price.  Check out the article for more details.

For the real inside scoop on vehicle auctions, who would know more than an auctioneer?

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