Auto auctions come in several varieties. I’ll discuss the types of auctions and what you may find at each.

Public Auction: A public auction is one where people may come in without licenses or permits and bid to buy cars at competitive prices. Public auctions are usually held weekly and provide dozens of car options to choose from. If you’re in the market for a quality car at a good price or just a beater, this auction may be the choice for you.

Dealer Only: Dealer only auctions are closed to the public and allow only certified auto dealers to attend. Have you ever been to a large used car dealership and wondered where they got all the cars? More than likely they all came from auto auctions. Save your time and stay away from these as you’ll be more than likely be denied entry.

Government Auctions: Auctions are held by the federal government mostly to get rid of old inventory. For example, the US military changes computer systems every 2 years, and the old computers are sold at discount rates. Cars and other equipment also have a pre-determined time of use, are well maintained, and offer great opportunities at auction. Government bodies at state and local levels also auction seized and government vehicles.

Insurance Auctions: Insurance auctions can be the most difficult auction to attend. These auctions usually offer severely damaged or salvaged vehicles. If you’re not a pro at repairing cars and understanding the risks in purchasing a salvaged car, you can lose a lot of money. Again, be cautious in considering this kind of auction.

No matter what type of auction you may attend, be sure to use discretion and make wise choices when you purchase. If you’re not sure, ask questions; and, if you don’t obtain the answers you seek, keep your money in your pocket. Wait for the next auction that’ll be right around the corner.

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