Loathing Lemons: Tips For Buying Used Cars From Auctions

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Attending a car auction is a great way to find used cars without spending a lot. The problem is, it's easy to accidentally buy something that won't last very long. You don't want to spend your money on a car that's going to die on your way home from the auction. If you're interested in buying a used car at an auction, here are some tips to ensure you get a decent one.

1. Know what kind of auction it is

There are many different types of auctions. Some auctions will say dealers only, while others will say that they're open to the public. Open to the public isn't talking about people who can attend. It's talking about people who can sell a vehicle. If it's open to the public, anyone can show up and have their car auctioned off. Someone might do it for some quick cash because they have a transmission or something just as costly going out. With dealer-only auctions, you know that the car has been inspected and approved for sale.

2. Run a report before bidding

If you have a tablet or smartphone with you, get the VIN numbers off of the vehicles that you are interested in. You can go online and run a report to see the history report for each vehicle. The history will show you accidents, thefts, and title transfers from sales. If the car has ever been totaled, you'll know about it immediately.

3. Look for a salvaged title

You're allowed to go through a vehicle's paperwork before the auction starts. Be sure you look at the title to see if it is a salvaged title or not. If it's a salvaged title, you probably don't want to buy it. A salvaged title means that the vehicle has been totaled out and repaired. If you buy it, you might have a difficult time finding a car insurance company that will insure your vehicle. When you finally go to resell, you won't get much out of it.

4. Look for bank-owned cars

If you decide to go to a public auction, bank owned cars are your best bet. These are vehicles that were repossessed because the owners couldn't make their payments. Bank owned cars are usually in great shape, and often fairly new. You might be able to find an almost-new car for a fraction of the price.

5. Don't let the speed overwhelm you

Auctions move quickly. They'll go through a couple of vehicles before you even know what happened. Don't let the fast-paced atmosphere scare you into making a bid that you aren't completely sure you want to make. If you feel yourself hesitating, go with your gut and  stay away from the vehicle. There will be more great ones, so walking away is okay. You don't want to make a bid because the auction is going quickly and you get frightened.

6. Go to a few auctions before you plan to buy

A way to keep the quick-moving environment from freaking you out is to go to a few auctions before you decide to buy something; don't bring any money, don't plan to bid, just watch the auction and get a feel of how it works. If you spot some people who seem like they frequent the auctions, watch and see what they do. It would even be a good idea to approach a few people and ask them for advice.

Going to an auction is a great way to buy a fantastic car for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, it's also a great way to buy a lemon. Make sure you check for a salvaged title, run a report online, and pay close attention to bank-owned vehicles and vehicles inspected by dealerships.