The Pros and Cons of Used Car Auctions

February 22, 2012

Browsing used car listings can be paralyzing, but a used car auction is more immediate. Learn how to find and get good deals at used car auctions.

Auction Gavel

Used car auctions can offer great deals, but you should seriously weigh the pros and cons before deciding to purchase a vehicle from an auction.

Advantages of Used Car Auctions

  • Price. The first very obvious advantage—the reason most consumers consider an auction—is the potential of finding a used car at a very good price. The prices at an auction aren't usually available elsewhere. Retailers can't compete with auction prices, so you could potentially find a well-conditioned car at a very reduced price
  • Volume. Another pro is the huge variety of the cars offered. Auctions are available across the United States each week; usually with hundreds of cars sold. Even if you do not find the vehicle that you hoped for, you may find one better or might choose to wait a week or a month until the exact model that you're looking for becomes available

Disadvantages of Used Car Auctions

  • "As is" condition. After the bidding is done, the vehicle belongs to you; no ifs, ands or buts. Auction cars do not come with warranties of any sort or any kind of buy-back guarantee. You are taking a chance that the vehicle you desire is well-conditioned. If the motor blows as you pull away from the auction, it's your problem. There is no looking back with auctions
  • Legal issues. Another reason the car may be available at the auction could be because of a repossession or a confiscation. The problem with a confiscated car is that the owner might have rigged the car for less-than-legal purposes and the car could be essentially worthless. There is also a possibility that the car you are acquiring is stolen or has been illegally smuggled into the country. So, titling the car may prove to be difficult in the future

How to Find a Used Car Auction in Your Area

Here's a quick guide to help you find car auctions in your area.

Check Your Local Newspaper
Keep an eye on the classified section of your local newspaper. Most of the time, auctions will advertise in the classified section when they will be holding an auction soon. These ads generally first appear in the weekend editions of the newspaper. Check the Sunday classifieds for notices of upcoming auctions.

Search the Internet
You can use your favorite search engine to search for auto auctions on the Internet. Sometimes, if there is an auto auction to be found in your area you may find a reference in a press release or online news article regarding the auction. Furthermore, check news sites and check for news in your local zip code regarding used car auctions.

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