Monday, April 02, 2007

How to Gain the Advantage in Used Car Auctions

By Joseph Ducat

A public car auctions can be a good opportunities for getting a great deal on a used auto. But it is important to be prepared before entering such an auction if you want to have a significant advantage. Let me share some nuggets of knowledge with you about public car auctions, and you just may walk out of that auction lot with a real bargain on a quality used car.

Start off by learning certain facts concerning public car auctions. These open auctions are typically held by the government or police, or by specialized auction lots. The vehicles they sell may be cars that have been seized or repossessed, or else government surplus. These cars are sold “as is” without warranties or guarantees. It won’t be possible for you return a car after you buy it, and it would be very difficult to get reimbursed. So take care not to end up buying something of poor quality.

You definitely should attend the public auto auction’s preliminary inspection period, which may be a day or two before the auction--be sure to find out the proper schedule. This inspection period will provide you with your best chance to view the cars closely and even get behind the wheel of one and start it. You will not, however, be able to test drive any of the cars.

One thing you should do is take down the Vehicle Identification Number of the auto you plan to bid on. You can run the Vehicle Identification Number on Carfax to track down its vehicle history report, for a fee. This will allow you to learn whether the used car has a clean title, how many people have owned it, and a few details of its service history.

Bring with you a copy of the Kelley Blue Book or some other auto guide when you go to the auction. The guide will tell you the trade-in values for most car models and will help you to determine if a bid is fair or if it is too high. Note that besides the amount of your bid, you will also have to add a buyer’s premium of 5% to 10% of your bid, should you win the vehicle. On top of that, you may have to shell out a registration fee to participate in the auction.

Thinking of buying a car from a public auto auction? You can find helpful information on getting good deals at

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