Author Topic: Buying a used car at a Car Auction?  (Read 11096 times)

scintilla

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • not a penny more, not a penny less
Buying a used car at a Car Auction?
« on: August 25, 2012, 08:48:37 AM »
Hi folks!

I want to buy a used car and my budget is at max 10k but really looking for a good deal at around 9k. I am looking to buy a used car, probably one from Honda, Toyota or Nissan (if any other name comes to your mind that has low maintenance cost and good resale value, please suggest). After cramming the craigslist and going through dealer offers I was wondering is there any other way to buy a used car- Auctions! Why not!?

1. Can anyone throw light on how buying a car at a car auction is like?
2. Is it highly risky?
3. What are the pros and cons of buying a car at auction?
4. Is the money saved really worth the uncertainty we buy along with the car?
5. What are potential auction sites/companies I should look for? I live in Los Angeles, CA.

My background:
26, working in an IT company, international, may leave US in 2 years so looking for a car with good resale value. This would be my first car. Debt free. Can pay all cash for this car - no financing. Please feel free to ask any questions!

This is my first post, I'm so excited to join this community!
Thanks guys!

kisserofsinners

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 381
  • Age: 40
  • Location: San Francisco
    • Monkey wants a house
Re: Buying a used car at a Car Auction?
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 10:29:28 AM »
I once had a job driving used cars to the dealer from an auction in Sacramento. 3 hour drive. We were bused down and chose our car to drive home. It sounds like your budget is way higher than theirs was. :)

10k is a lot. You're looking for a least-return auction and honestly i don't know how to get in, but is is definitely worth the money. These cars are meticulously maintained and ridiculously priced. You could easily handle without a mechanic. Getting the actual action info is your first hurdle. It's not like a government auction that requires posting in easy places to find. Know anyone who's had a car repossessed?

There is an MMM article that goes into choosing the car.

bdub

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 77
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
Re: Buying a used car at a Car Auction?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 12:24:48 PM »
The risk with auction cars is you don't get a test drive or a mechanic check; cars are sold as is, you literally only get to kick the tires.  Also, most auctions of lease returns and trade-ins are closed to the public, you need an auto brokers license (or a friend who has one) to purchase a car.  Auctions for repossessions or government sales are generally open to the public.  There are auto brokers who can find a car at auction for you for a fee.  A google search should turn something up in your area.

The best bet, I think, is still Craigslist.  Find MMM's article about used car buying.  There are a lot of good tips there.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: Buying a used car at a Car Auction?
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2012, 06:06:27 PM »
I purchased three cars at auction, the last one about 8 years ago.  My father-in-law created a dealership just so he could go to auctions and play around.

On the day of the auction we would arrive early with a NADA book in our back pockets.  We could walk through the rows of cars coming up that day, and take notes on the ones that fit what we were looking for.  The keys were all in the vehicle so we could test drive them as much as we wanted and look under the hood.

We would bounce from the different lines of auctions, trying to catch as many as possible of the ones we had selected as possible buys.  We would have a price point in mind and hope to get a good deal.  Since we were bidding against dealers the prices for newer vehicles were pretty high, that's what they wanted back then.  But we were able to score some really nice buys, and I was pretty happy with the three cars I bought that way.

Having said all that, I know it probably doesn't help you much.  I don't know much about auctions for the general public, and you probably don't have a friend with a dealers license.  But maybe some public auctions are like that.

But like bdub said, craigslist is probably the best place to get cars at this point.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 06:08:00 PM by James »

scintilla

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • not a penny more, not a penny less
Re: Buying a used car at a Car Auction?
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2012, 08:46:18 PM »
10k is a lot. 
Wow! That's a relief :) Thanks!

These cars are meticulously maintained and ridiculously priced. You could easily handle without a mechanic.
Really? As I cannot take the car to the mechanic, can I be sure about the quality of the car/engine? I know it differs from car to car, but let's talk about a normal auction day and any random car.

There is an MMM article that goes into choosing the car.
Yes! I have read every word of it. Including comments :)


My father-in-law created a dealership just so he could go to auctions and play around.

On the day of the auction we would arrive early with a NADA book in our back pockets.  We could walk through the rows of cars coming up that day, and take notes on the ones that fit what we were looking for.  The keys were all in the vehicle so we could test drive them as much as we wanted and look under the hood.

We would bounce from the different lines of auctions, trying to catch as many as possible of the ones we had selected as possible buys.  We would have a price point in mind and hope to get a good deal.  Since we were bidding against dealers the prices for newer vehicles were pretty high, that's what they wanted back then.  But we were able to score some really nice buys, and I was pretty happy with the three cars I bought that way.

Having said all that, I know it probably doesn't help you much.  I don't know much about auctions for the general public, and you probably don't have a friend with a dealers license.  But maybe some public auctions are like that.

But like bdub said, craigslist is probably the best place to get cars at this point.
Hey your father-in-law is an intelligent man!! :) Thanks for sharing your experience James! I'm keeping an eye on Craigslist, lets see if I can find someone with the license to buy cars from auction.

The risk with auction cars is you don't get a test drive or a mechanic check; cars are sold as is, you literally only get to kick the tires.  Also, most auctions of lease returns and trade-ins are closed to the public, you need an auto brokers license (or a friend who has one) to purchase a car.  Auctions for repossessions or government sales are generally open to the public.  There are auto brokers who can find a car at auction for you for a fee.  A google search should turn something up in your area.

The best bet, I think, is still Craigslist.  Find MMM's article about used car buying.  There are a lot of good tips there.
Thanks bdub! I will play with google to get some contacts if possible. I am anyway won't be getting the lease returns as they are driven by hundreds of different people with different driving habits who drive it carelessly. I hope I could at least get to see the carfax report at the auction to check the history of the car.

Your comments help me so much. Thanks guys!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 08:49:18 PM by scintilla »

betsyjeager

  • Guest
Re: Buying a used car at a Car Auction?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 02:15:18 AM »
When you find any used car for auction then better make sure you carry someone technical fellow along with you for a thorough inspection process.