How to Buy Your Next Car Under Retail Value

Need a cheap car?

Hate going to the dealership?

There are other options. One is the classic auto auction, a place where you can get cars for way under retail prices with the hassle and haggle of the dealership. But for many, the idea of an auto auction is not an attractive offer because there are a lot of misconceptions about them.

The truth is, is easy to end up with a lemon at an auto auction. That’s because you have no real idea of what you’re going to get. But buying cars under value is not an idea “that is too good to be true”, you can do it, you just have to know how.

The Economy:

Today, you’re probably more apt to take the risk of buying at an auction than you probably were two years ago. If you’ve lost a job, got a cut in pay, or just found your status much less than it used to be and you need a car, you’re probably looking for the cheapest alternative out there. One good thing about the current state of affairs is that it’s forcing us all to be more resourceful and resilient.

First Step:

If you’re going to buy from an auction there are few things you need to know:

  1. Where to Go
    2. What to Buy
    3. How to Bid

Where to Go:

There are a lot of car auction sites, but some are better than others. When you go to an auction the cars you find will come from a variety of places, which is why you’ll find some really good ones and probably some really bad ones.

You will find “individual owners” who are selling their own cars, repo cars, and government cars, all of which could be an advantage or a disadvantage. So the trick is to carefully select your auction, find out where the bulk of the cars are coming from and make sure you visit if the location is nearby.

What to Buy:

Think about the type of car you want. Keep in mind there will be lots of vehicles at the auction but you want have the type of selection you’d get at a dealership so make sure you have two or three types in mind. Do as much research ahead of time on the type of vehicles you’re interested in.

Armed with this information and the auction you want to visit, it times to get started. Arrive at the auction as early as possible. Some auctions you can go a few days ahead to scope out the cars. Usually the day of the auction, you can arrive several hours before bidding starts.

During this time you want to take a look at the cars that are available. If you see some that you like, check them out as thoroughly as you can. You are usually not allowed to drive the cars but you can start them up and drive them forward and in reverse.

How to Bid:

If you see something you like, you want to take note. Watch the car as it’s been driven up to prepare for bidding. Consider what you want to bid. It’s better to start lower and go higher. Give yourself some room for bidding in case others are also interested in the car you want. Keep in mind that there are additional fees associated with the car, including auction fees, as well as any general maintenance you may have to make on the car as well as insurance.


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