Buying a Car at Auction

Buying a Car at Auction, Car for Auction With Gavel in Foreground
Auctions can be a great way to pick up items for less than retail price. Whether you are getting a classic car or trying to get a used vehicle for cheap, auctions are a wonderful way to pick up the car you want for less. This is a page about buying a car at auction.

2 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

May 14, 2010

I recently purchased a utility van at the auction. I had 48 hours to take it to a mechanic to have it checked out to make sure the transmission and engine were in good order, but had to put down 70% before I could take the van. I made the mistake of going to a mechanic they suggested which was close and he said everything looked good except for the tie rods.

I drove it home to clean it out and found small rocks and dirt in the back along under the floor mat. I soon realized that I had been sold a flooded vehicle. Does anyone know if there is anything I can do to get out of this commitment on the van before I pay the other 30%? Any advice would be great. Thanks.


By JD from UT


May 17, 20100 found this helpful

Contact your attorney general. Flooded autos are not supposed to be sold. Also, get a car fax report as quickly as possible. Go online to get it.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 14, 2010

Has anyone ever bought a car from a car auction? If so, did it turn out to be a good car and did you save a lot of money?



Buying a Car at Auction

I've never bought a car at an auction myself, but I knew a girl from a place I worked at that went to one of those car auctions down in GA, she paid $400 dollars for a 1994 car and she still has it. For her at least it was a good deal. But I think you need to get there as early as your allowed, and check out several cars, and have someone who knows cars with you. Good luck. (09/21/2005)


By Becky

Buying a Car at Auction

I hadn't thought about how many our family had bought at auctions, but it is 6 that I can think of. 3 off eBay, two of them, a Buick and Olds, have been used for 2 years and will be kept for a long time more. They were bought with about 100K, without seeing them in person and driven, one over 500 miles home and the other 300 miles home. The other eBay one was just last week for parts and will be towed home, the tranny was shot in it and our family needed the fender windshield and front end.

Estate auctions, 2, a Toyota that 12 was years old and went another 100,000 miles, and a Pontiac Grand Prix that I didn't think was that great, but it was babied a long and changed color and sold and is still running and ugly. It has to be 20 years old.


A bad choice was a used cop car that was a money pit. Best thing is we parted it out and got some money for the parts, more than junk yard would have given.

Good advice: think about an estate auction where someone old had a car they didn't use a lot.
On eBay, check feedback. Call them, email them, ask them about it. Read and reread the description.

With all the water damage to cars in the south keep that in mind. (09/21/2005)

By chml

Buying a Car at Auction

I work for an auctioneer and one thing you have to look at is if it has a "clear" title or a "salvage" title.

Do some research previous to buying, like look on NADA for information and pricing.

And as previously stated, bring someone with you to look at it. Although that will not always tell you what is wrong especially since you can't drive it, they should at least start the car.


You stated a "car auction", you may want to call to see if they allow you to come in previous to do a better look at on the car. We used to have a place that held "car auctions", they'd have 2 days during the week before the auction you could come and look at the cars.

As with all auctions remember, "sold as is", "where is", "buyer beware". Auctioneers will be as honest as they can be, it's their reputation, they don't want to hide anything, but with anything used, one minute it works fine and the next it's broke.

I can try to answer any other questions.


By Nancy H

Buying a Car at Auction

I got a whole 1000 miles out of my "beautiful" auction car. I got all hyped up and wasn't able to thoroughly get it checked out. I think you just take your chances. I've heard good stories and bad stories. I bought a brand new car straight out of the showroom not long ago, but who's to say it isn't going to go kaput as soon as the warranty runs out.


I think cars are just things you gotta take your chances on, but if you know someone who works on cars, try to get them to go with you. They should have a little area where you can drive the car and check it out. (09/22/2005)

By JoAnn

Buying a Car at Auction

I bought a car at an auction. It was wonderful and well worth the money. (09/23/2005)

By Sharon

Buying a Car at Auction

I think lemon laws are negated if you buy a car at auction in most states, so it is not worth it. Also, will you have time to do get the VIN and do a title check on

By Chuck R.

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