Auto Auctions: How to Get in and Buy Cars Like a Dealer

How to Get in and Buy at Auto AuctionsGetting the best deal on a car has become something of an art for automotive aficionados. Strolling through lines of used cars at the dealership or scanning through private listings online may leave you wondering if you’re going to overpay. You also may not be too keen on negotiating the price with a salesperson or a private owner. Buying a car the same way the dealer does can save you quite a bit of money. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can get into an auto auction usually reserved only for dealers.

Getting Access to Dealer Auctions

Dealers aren’t getting most of the inventory on their used car lot from trade-in vehicles. In fact, they’re going to dealer auctions that usually aren’t open to the public. You may wonder where these cars are coming from, and there are a lot of sources. Some of these vehicles were repossessed by the bank and others were traded in to a dealership. The rest may have been completed leases or rental cars that have been taken off the road. Salvage vehicles often end up at auctions at well, after being declared a total loss by an insurance company.

How do you get onto an auction lot to look at any of these cars? You must have either a dealer license or access to somebody who has it. If you decide to partner with somebody who already has the licensing, make sure that this is somebody you trust. That person is going to have to purchase that car for you. Despite the risks though, working with somebody with a dealer license is probably the easier choice. A local dealer might be willing to partner with you, for a price. This isn’t a bad way to go, because dealers are going to be very comfortable navigating an auction.

What if you’d rather work to get a license? Be aware that many states require you to have a physical location for a dealership before applying for licensing. Each state has different requirements, so it’s best to check the website of your local DMV. Figure out if you meet the requirements and find out the steps you’ll need to take. There are some websites that promise licensing packages, but make sure that you do your homework. It’s important to ensure that everything is done on the legal up-and-up.

Watch for Special Events

Quite possibly the easiest way to get into a physical auction is waiting for special events when they’re open to the public. Not every auction does this, but many of them have a few special days when they’ll let anyone in. Bear in mind, this is a going to be a very busy day. Check the auction website and see their schedule. If you don’t find anything, just give them a call.

A few auctions are open to the public as often as once a month or once a week. Often, sites will already have listings of the vehicles that will be for sale a few days beforehand. The only downside to going on these days is the massive attendance. Everybody else who wants to buy a car at auction will be there on the same day. Thus, competition may be a little fiercer.

Online Auto Auctions

In the last several years, online auto auctions have taken off. While there are some obvious pitfalls to being unable to see the vehicle in person, many of these websites are open to the public. Again, you’re spending thousands of dollars on a car – do your homework before you move forward with any auction website. Each site a little bit different, some still require a dealer license, but others only have a membership fee. The amount seems to vary, but many of these sites charge several hundred dollars.

Is this fee worth it? Very possibly, depending on the deal you find. You might be able to buy a car for several thousand below selling price. Remember that this isn’t going to be the only fee either – there will be an auction fee as well. If you can find the car you’re looking for at the right price, this might not be a problem. If you decide to go the online route, consider the types of cars that these auctions tend to get. Take note of the quality of the website, too. Some are more user-friendly than others.

All in all, you don’t have to be a dealer to buy a car the way they do. Getting a dealer license will get you access to just about any auction you want. If you can’t or don’t want to go through all of the legal requirements though, you still have options. So, if you’re in the market for a new car, consider avoiding the dealership lot and buying a car in a new way.