back to articles | December 31, 2018 | Dale Peterson

Categories: Buying & Selling Cars Vehicle & Buying Research

Auto Auctions

Types of Auto Auctions

Public Auto Auctions

There are numerous types of auctions that you can find both in the papers and on the internet. Public auto auctions will offer cars in the sale are from banks, credit unions, car dealers, governmental agencies and the general public. Public auto auctions are open to the public as well as dealers, but they rarely get involved. Some public auctions move 200-300 autos a week in some parts of the country. No matter what their condition, all autos generate spirited bidding from those who are looking for a used car. Most of the public auctions still require that all sales be subject to the approval of the seller.

Most public auto auctions offer cars offered for sale consisting of units that have been previously owned or are used. Some of these can be municipal vehicles that come from cities and townships. Some public auction autos come from other financial institutions, and some are repossessed cars. Of the cars that are repossessions they are dropped of repossession companies.

Government Auto Auctions

Government auctions can include real estate auctions, personal and business auto auctions, boat auctions, recreation vehicle auctions, motorcycle auctions, furniture auctions, art auctions, jewelry and watch auctions, and electronics auctions, as these are generally the most sought after and available items at government auctions. Anything that you ever wanted to buy, you probably can find at government auctions. The way to making money at government auctions or getting your desired car or other item real cheap is to use your head. If you do that and research auto prices, trade-in value, and the retail and wholesale value of what you are buying, you will get some great items at government auctions.

There are other sites out there that claim to offer the inside scoop to government auction information, but this is false. First of all there is no inside scoop. Sites that claim that they'll provide you with the "Secrets" to government auctions are full of it. The only really useful information to you is where these auctions are held. Besides that, government auctions really work like any other auctions. What they do is provide you with a comprehensive database of such auctions which includes those that are located in your state or territory and online so that you can participate in them. And you could probably ge deals on anything you that you ever wanted. But there's no secret formula to success at government auctions. Everyone can walk away with a great deal!

I've heard that I can buy an expensive car, house, boat or aircraft at a government auction for $100. Is this true?

No not really. However, let's clarify that a bit: It is possible, although highly unlikely. However, other information, such as print ads will make you believe that this is typical of a government auction. It really is not the case. It happens, and that's what makes good copy. You will however be able to find a great deal of bargains on various items and properties at a huge discount off the normal price. You will also likely run into some unbelievable deals, especially at those government auctions which are less competitive. This is because the federal, state and local governments obtain this property either for free (like when it's seized or repossessed) or at a large discount, and really have no profit motive other than to receive whatever amount of money they can get from it. Can you get an auto for $100 at a government auction? Yes, but it will not be a brand new Lexus. That having been said, on many occasions, you can get the bargain.

Dealer Auto Auctions

These are generally wholesale auctions that are not open to the general public. They require authorization from the auction company to participate, which may mean that you have a dealer or resellers license to be able to participate in a dealer auction. Many financial institutions utilize dealer auctions to get as much of the cost of the asset that they have repossessed or claimed by default on the auto loan. Many laws and regulations exist covering dealer auto auctions, and a bond is often required as well. Sellers must take responsibility for their odometer statements and representation on the auction lot.

All auction vehicles should undergo a rigorous analysis. Buying a vehicle at auto auctions is not difficult, once you know how it all works, and the savings are very substantial. With 1,000's of vehicles sold per week, "there's always tomorrow" applies perfectly to Auto Auctions because if they don't have right vehicle for you today, there is every chance they will tomorrow. But with 1,000's per week the odds are on your side.

Auto Auction Tips

Auto Auction Tip 1 - Do Your Homework
Decide on the make of vehicle you're interested in, and check the press for a guide to prices from dealers and private sellers. Then take a look at auto auction ads in papers and websites! Don't be overly disappointed if exactly the car you want is not mentioned - auctions receive vehicles all day, every day.

Have your finances organized prior to coming to the auction, this way you know exactly what your limitations are. If you require financial services, check out car financing rates and offers from

Remember to bring a photo ID (driving licence or passport) and a form of payment (cash, bank check) to cover your deposit. Auto auction deposits usually run about 10% of the purchase price, or generally, a minimum of $500 if the purchase price is less than $2000.

Auto Auction Tip 2 - Inspect the Vehicles before You Bid
You can come out during the week prior to the auto auction if you wish and have a good look around at the stock either being prepared or auctioned for that week. Arrive in plenty of time before the auction starts. If you have any queries do not hesitate to find and ask. People are there to help you and make you feel at ease with the auction process.

Depending upon the auction you attend, it is often understood that every vehicle (with a few noted exceptions) undergoes a series of rigorous tests. Every registered passenger vehicle is accompanied by an Inspection Report that advises any defects or faults.

Auto Auction Tip 3 - Price Range and Timing
Once you have selected a vehicle or a number of vehicles, find someone who can help you get organized and learn about the particular auction that you are attending. All bids, deposits and sales include sales taxes. If you haven't ever taken part in an auto auction before, it's a good idea to attend an auction first and observe how it all happens. Watch the Auctioneer and his staff, and the bidding process. There are a few general rules and a few conditions to taking part in an auction, and they vary between auction to auction. Just make sure you ask before things get started.

These include:

  • Incremental bids. Bidding usually increases by $100, $250, or $500 at the discretion of the Auctioneer. Be sure to ask.
  • Your commitment to purchase.
  • Understanding what the Auctioneer means.
  • Your liabilities when you bid. Once you have made a bid you cannot withdraw it.

Auto Auction Tip 4 - Making your Bid
When "your" vehicle is driven onto the Auction area, here is what you should do:
-It is sometimes wise to let someone else start the bidding.
-Use the amount of activity as a guide to the vehicle's popularity.
-Be sure you are bidding on the correct vehicle by noting the Lot number or engine number.
-When you're ready and you feel the time is right, make your bid confidently so as not to be overlooked as many units are auctioned in a small timeframe.
-Attract the attention of the Auctioneer by holding up your hand or your Bidder Number.
-Make sure the Auctioneer notices your first bid - he will then watch you for further bids.

Once the auctioneer's hammer has fallen to your bid:

Take your identification and part payment to the Sales Office to secure your wholesale purchase. At most auto auctions, you can pay with cash, bank check, major credit card.

An administration fee is applicable at most auctions. Complete the necessary purchase documents. Take your receipt as Proof of Purchase and Guarantee of title. Return to settle while your roadworthy inspection is being completed (compulsory with all passenger vehicles sold to the general public) Return to the sales office to finalize the payment and you will be given Registration papers to prove it's yours!

Auto Auction Tip 5 – Drive Carefully!
Collect your new vehicle at the Security gate and drive away.