You are probably well aware of how you can buy cars online. Private sellers make vehicles available through social media channels and local sites, dealerships have online listings, and some car companies only sell online as their entire business model. However, there are also online auto auctions. They might mirror physical auctions or even by a hybrid model with them at the same time. In either case, it’s one more avenue you can use to find your next car and it’s worth exploring.
Getting Great Deals From an Online Auto Auction
Online auctions let you shop from the comfort of home or even work. However, you need to be ready in advance.
- Research: Look up information in advance about the vehicles you might be looking for but also what the auction has listed as available. Know what the average lifespan is so you have an idea about how many more years you can expect.
- Decide Your Max Bid: This should be based on two Kelly Blue Book values. One is retail, and the other is wholesale. Know what the vehicle should sell for so you don’t overspend, and always stay within your actual budget.
- Consider the Mileage: Higher mileage might mean a better deal, but it’s also got more wear and tear. It could cost more in the long run.
- Age Matters Too: Low-mileage cars with a lot of years might have just sat around without maintenance and exercise.
- Bid Smart: Having a practiced bidding strategy can help, but the biggest thing you want to do is avoid overbidding. Getting caught up in things can run up the price, and you might get left hanging with a high bid you actually didn’t mean.
The car you want is out there, but it might take more auctions and bidding than you want to admit to finding it. Better to back out than overbid.
Getting Your Vehicle
If you buy a passenger vehicle from an online auto auction, then you obviously need some way of receiving it. Should the auction be close enough, you might be able to get a ride there, pick up your vehicle, and drive it home. Chances are good, however, then you’ll need a car shipping service in California or other major US states.
Shopping around for the right transport service will help you find the best deal. Industry professionals can help you make the arrangements to get your new car to where you work and live. Especially if you’ve purchased a rare or customized car, you may not want to drive it directly off the lot. A car shipping service can help you safely transport your vehicle in an enclosed trailer, and you can save money if you decide to have multiple purchases transported at once.
The Stoplight System
One thing about online auto auctions is that sales are likely to be final. Going through a dealership might mean you have time for a mechanic to look over a car while you can still return it. Even private sellers and online car companies might give you a window of opportunity to try a vehicle out before fully committing to it.
You might need to know the “stoplight system” many auto auctions use, both in real life and online. Nerdwallet points out that you need to know the three colors and what they mean. Guarantees for each vehicle may or may not be available.
- Green Light: These vehicles don’t have any known defects. If mechanical issues are discovered, then the arbitration will be possible.
- Yellow Light: Yellow-light vehicles not only have issues but they are known issues. They are not subject to potential arbitration.
- Red Light: Vehicles under this category are sold as they are. If you start the engine and it catches fire, you have no recourse.
The Best of Both Worlds
Using online auto auctions can mean the best of both worlds when you are shopping for a passenger vehicle. Accessing the marketplace at a national level means you have really good odds of finding the specific make and model you have been hoping to get. Also, looking outside your own region might mean finding better prices than you would ever hope to get close to home. It’s worth attending at least one or two online auctions virtually just as a spectator to get a feel for how they work.