Online Car Auctions

by Susan Ayers
(Richmond, VA.)

Online car auctions can be fun and exciting. You have access to sometimes thousands of cars all in one place and you can get into an exciting bidding war with other interested individuals. Some auction sites are free and some charge a minimal fee to join in the bidding. If paying a fee makes you want to reconsider, just think about gas prices and how much you’d be spending driving around car lots looking for that perfect car.

How Online Auctions Work
Online auctions are similar to regular auctions in the way they work. There are sellers that have cars available and there are buyers (you) who want to purchase a car for a lot less than you would from a dealer. Buyers who win the auction are expected to pay for their purchase immediate. Some sites require you to pay with PayPal accounts or in Green Dot money which is a loadable money card. Paying with credit cards will offer you the most protection if the deal falls through but some sites will only take Green Dot. Also, make all payments through the auction site itself even if you get an offer to pay less through an individual. Going through a reputable auction site will afford you more protection than paying an individual outright.

Before you ‘attend’ the auction, you will have to register with the site before you bid on anything. You will get email updates if someone outbids you, so be prepared to watch your email account regularly during the bidding process.

The online auction will close at the regularly scheduled time and the highest bidder will win the car. If the reserve amount of the vehicle is not met, the car will go back to the seller.

Before you participate in an online car auction, familiarize yourself with a smaller online auction like eBay just to see how the process works. Online car auctions are similar to the smaller, eBay type auctions but the restrictions could be much more rigorous. You will also have to do your homework so you will know how much to bid on a car.

Ensure you know how the car will be shipped. This could add a ton of money to your bill. Take shipping payments into consideration before you start bidding on a car.

Government Seized Car Auctions
One auction option is the Government Seized Car Auction. These auctions are advantageous for the buyer. Cars are repossessed by the government every day due to government agencies confiscating vehicles from criminals or from people who owe the government a lot of money. Seizure laws allow the government to confiscate vehicles to make up for the debt. Online
auctions are ways for these government agencies to unload the cars at little cost to them and as a result they can also receive some money for the automobiles.

Online auctions are a great way to find vehicles such as luxury cars. Oftentimes, you can receive these for a song – up to as much as 90% off of what you would normally pay a car dealer. You can also get government owned vehicles that are being auctioned off from reputable government agencies like the IRS. Both federal and state agencies are unloading vehicles this way as it saves them from carrying inventory which can be costly to the agency.

Private Online Auctions
There are also car auctions that are held that are not for the general public. To find out about these, contact your local government. You can find out dates of auctions and sometimes obtain a list of vehicles that will be auctioned off. In order to participate in these private auctions, you must apply in advance for a license to be able to bid.

Used Car Online Auctions
One of the first things that come to mind when buying a used car is its history. Is it ‘accident prone’ or has it been in a major flood or collision and rebuilt? One of the ways to check a used automobile before you purchase it is to check its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). Once you obtain a car’s VIN number, you can do a Car Facts Check at an online site to see what results come back.

Before you buy a used car from a used car auction, see if you can check the VIN number. It’s usually available in the detail report along with the mileage and photos of the car.

Check out an online site such as to read about the various online car auctions that are out there. This will not guarantee that you receive a defect-free automobile but doing an online search can certainly help you eliminate those auctions which have bad reputations.

Try your best to deal with reputable online sites and steer clear of those who other people have had bad experiences with. Make sure that there is more than just one complaint though about a site as a localized complaint could be the ramblings of one individual. But if there are several complaints about an auction – stay away.

If you’re participating in an online auction for used cars, make sure the dealer will offer you a money back guarantee or at least a test drive before the deal is sealed. If possible, have a mechanic on call to look over the car as soon as it arrives.

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