Are you looking for a great deal on Buying a Car? Buy it at an auto auction! Purchasing a car at an auction is a bit more difficult than heading to your local used car dealership: you’ll have to do some good research on a car before bidding on it and have a firm budget in mind before starting the bidding process, so that you don’t get carried away when a bidding war on the car you have your heart set on commences, allowing you to walk away from the car if it becomes too expensive.

Another great reason to buy a car at auction? You often can find many classic/vintage or high-end vehicles at these events and you could end up purchasing one for far less than you normally would.

Important note: many classic, high-end cars sold at auction aren’t drive-able for various reasons. If that’s the case, you will need to arrange to ship your new-to-you vehicle.


Take a look below for tips and strategies to make your auction car buying experience as pleasant and financially worthwhile as possible.

  • As mentioned above, have a budget and STICK TO IT!

    Bidding wars do happen and the excitement can be electrifying, practically forcing you to up your bid until you’re the happy winner…at hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than you intended to spend.

    Instead, research the car you plan to bid upon (more on this, below) and make sure you don’t go a penny above your budget. In other words, be prepared to walk away.

    What’s more, your budget also should include any repairs you’ll need to make on the car. And, in the case of a vehicle that’s inoperable, you should include a projected cost to transport the car from the auction to your home (or mechanic).

  • Research and inspect the car(s) you’re interested in bidding upon.

    All auctions have a list and description of the cars for sale. Get this list and then start doing some research online as to its value. Then head out on the auction location’s lot and find the vehicles that interest you. (The auction will have a car directory of all the cars to be auctioned off and their locations on the auction lot.)

    Head to the car(s) and check for worn tires, fluid leaks, any physical damage (dents, scratches, torn seat covers), etc.

    If you’re not mechanically inclined, see if you can bring a friend along who is so that he can perform a more thorough inspection of the vehicle for you.

  • Understand all auction terms.

    Some auctions require a deposit before bidding. Some also require the deposit in cash. You need to find these things out before attending the auction. You also need to know when and how payment must be made on your winning bid(s).

  • Beware of bidding too soon.

    Many auctioneers actually will start the bidding process starting at a price point they know may be “too high.” If they then can’t get anyone to bid at that price, they will work their way down in asking price. But if you started bidding at the start….

  • Once you win a vehicle, you’ll need to get it from the auction house to its final destination.

    You’ll probably need to do this relatively quickly, possibly even the day of the auction, if not just a few days after. (Make sure you know the auction house’s terms regarding making payment and taking possession of your vehicle before participating in the auction.)

This issue is easy to fix if the car is running well: you can simply drive it away.

But if the vehicle is a vintage automobile or otherwise inoperable, or if you need to get it somewhere a few hundred miles away, you will need to arrange for its transport. An auto transport company such as Ship A Car, Inc. can help.

We’ve transported more than 35,000 cars since we started this business in 2012, many of them vintage/classic cars and many of those purchased at auction. We have an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau and 5-star reviews from previous customers.

Call us at 866-821-4555 to discuss your need to move your auto auction purchase and we’ll walk you through the entire transport process.