How To Buy Used Cars At Auction

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You can get better deals at auto auctions than almost anywhere else – if you know what you’re doing. Here’s a checklist, so you’ll be prepared.
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Find Your Favorites

Before you go, target a few favorites from the inventory listing,
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Budget

Establish in your mind – and better, on paper – the price you’re willing to pay.
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Digging Deeper

Search auto forums to find personal experiences with your selected models. Do due diligence on the favored few vehicles you’ve targeted, using Nadaguides among other sources.
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Do Your Own Check

Check out the vehicles at the auction house. Usually, there is a pre-viewing session the day before the auto auction proper. At the pre-viewing, you can pop the hood, check underneath for fluid spills, and start up the engine. But you can’t test drive it.
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Open Auctions

Find auctions selling newer cars, and auctions where the public, not just dealers, are allowed to attend.
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Auction Recon

Visit more than one auction to get a feel for the process.
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Inspection

If possible, have an inspection done at the auction house.
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In The Mood?

Observe the mood of the crowd while bidding.
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Head Over Heart

Don’t be entirely against ‘falling in love’ with a car. But don’t do it often.
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Just Walk Away

Always be prepared to say ‘No.’ There’ll be another auction in a week or so.
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