Going to car auctions to beef up your inventory for tax season? Be prepared and get the best deals with our list of insider tips.
- Consider going to an auction farther from you. (Or go online)
Attend auctions that are farther away from your local area. You’ll be expanding your potential car inventory and variety by doing so.
- Do you have training and a keen eye for mechanical details?
If not, you should go with someone who has a technical eye that you can rely on. It’s getting harder and harder to buy fully functional cars at auctions. Even the better cars at auctions may require one or two fixes.
- Arrive early at car auctions.
Showing up at a car auction last minute is not recommended. Not only will you be scrambling to register as a bidder on time, you won’t have time to properly examine the cars that you’ll be possibly bidding on.
- Inspect and assess the cars.
Inspect everything and be aware of what’s inside. Does the car have any odd smells like cigarette smoke or have any residual cigarette trash? Is the carpet wet? A dent in the car isn’t necessarily a sign of misuse if it doesn’t show dents elsewhere. Inspect the VIN and check under the hood to make sure everything looks in order.
- Keep calm and bid on.
You don’t want to be that one overexcited bidder. You need a poker face. It’s important to keep your composure so you don’t give away any indicators about your buying intent. Likewise, you don’t want to let the excitement of bidding get the best of you and then bid for higher than what the car is worth.
Be prepared to walk away, and know that there are countless other auctions to go to, online and locally.
- Research and prepare.
Always look up what is the market value pricing on cars you are interested. As you may know, some good resources for price point reference include: Kelley Blue Book, NADA Guide, Edmunds, and even Craigslist.
- Don’t be a victim of odometer fraud.
The NHTSA estimates that there are more than 450,000 vehicles that have their odometers tampered with. Falsified odometer readings can also be done on digital odometers. The best guard against this is to check for inconsistent mileage reporting and the actual condition of the car. For example, cars that have worn out brakes, tires and pedals may not correspond with a low mileage car. Loose screws around the steering wheel may also indicate that the odometer has been tampered with.
- Observe the bidding crowd.
Look around you to see if the crowds are more frugal or willing to shell out big dollars for cars. That should give you a good idea of how to plan your bidding increments.
- Repo cars owned by banks might be in better condition.
Unfortunately, these cars are ones that owners often lose unintentionally. Because of this, they tend to be in better shape and easier to get onto your lot for sale.
- Set a budget and be firm with your prices
Don’t go over what you initially set as the budget limit for a car that you’d like to buy. It’s very easy to get caught up in the competitive spirit of a bidding war. If the price exceeds your limits, take a deep breath and try again with a different vehicle.
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