In a world where car shortages leave dealership lots empty and a used car costs almost as much as a new one, people will look anywhere for a good deal on their next ride. That world is here, and that place is the world wide web. Online car auctions are on the rise, and it feels like everyone wants a piece of these great deals. At the right auction, you can find cars for half of what you’d buy them for at a dealership. Sometimes, even less. However, there are some things to consider. For instance, not all cars are in working condition at a car auction, and some may cost more to fix than they’re worth. Still, there are tons of opportunities to find your dream car for pennies on the dollar. You just need to know how.
Do Your Homework
At a dealership, there are some safety nets when you buy a car. Some dealers offer a trial period, insurance, and Better Business Bureau help, and you can even test drive the car before you buy it. At an online auction, there’s none of that. There’s not even an inspection. Chances are, whatever car you get will need, at the very least, a tune-up when you get it home. This means your homework is more intense than finding the make and model you want.
When you do find the type of car you want to bid on, make sure you understand how to repair it. You don’t need to have a background as a mechanic, but knowing what they charge could help. Find out what common repairs this type of car requires. Do the brakes wear fast? Perhaps the timing belts slip on a lot of models. Find this out and check with your local shops to ask how much they cost to repair. Understand when you win an auction, that there should be some money left over for repairs.
Set a Max Bid
Speaking of saving money for repairs, now is the time to set your budget. You don’t want to win an auction and not be able to repair it, or even get it home. There is more to buy at a car auction than just a car. You will need to think about a car shipping company to get it home. Is the car located across the country? It might not make sense to bid on it and spend tons on a car shipping company if there’s an identical one closer.
The best thing about car auctions is that there are always more cars to bid on. Set your maximum bid and stick to your budget. This max bid should allow you a few extra dollars for any necessary repairs and maintenance, as well as shipping costs to get it home.
Check the Mileage
Now that you’ve got your budget and the car, it’s time to check your options. Understand the one fact about cars. Every car has an expiration date based on its mileage. Sure, you can extend this with scheduled maintenance, but there’s no guarantee the previous owner cared as much as you. What you can bank on is that if someone drives a disproportionate amount, there may be some added maintenance matters you’ll need to take care of.
For instance, every 20,000 miles you’ll need to spend anywhere between $400 and $1000 on new tires. Brakes go around 40,000 miles and can cost up to $2,000. Check the maintenance for the car you’re looking for and double check the odometer to see if any of these mileage milestones are due.
Age Does Matter
Mileage is one thing, but age also accounts for how long a car can last. Sure, you can keep a car in an environmentally controlled garage but again, you can’t assume this car was. Also, a car that’s in use and maintained is far better than a car abandoned in a storage container. You’ll never know if the belts wore down with time or if sludge built up in the engine.
The flip side of a newer car with high mileage is also a concern. Driving that much in a short time could put a strain on the car that you’ll need to address.
At a Car Auction You Must Bid Wisely
So you’ve got the car, you know your budget, and you’re ready to bid. The best thing to do right now is to wait. I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear. The problem is that bidding wars are exciting, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Check the time of the auction. Is there still a week or more before bidding closes? It’s probably best to wait until hours or even minutes before the bidding closes before putting in your offer. This is because early bidding could raise the price much higher than it needs to go.
Develop a bidding strategy. The best education is to watch a few car auctions and take notes. See how quickly the bids go up at the end and the prices they bid. Is everyone bidding round numbers or are they pricing uniquely to weave around bids? Even bidding a dollar over someone else’s offer will get you the car. Spend a few days understanding the process before you get into the driver’s seat yourself. If you know someone who has had success, ask them for some tips.
An Online Car Auction is Easy When You Have a Plan
However, it’s also easy to get in over your head. Make sure you stick to your budget. Bid modestly and have a mechanic on hand when you get your car. Also, get some quotes from some shipping companies to make sure you’re ready to get your car once you win.
Charlotte Car Transport offers free quotes delivered instantly to your inbox. This is a great tool to use for budgeting before you start bidding on a car. They offer door-to-door shipping and include their industry-leading insurance right there in the quote.