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7 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Car at an Online Auction


Porsche convertible up for auction

Buying a car via an online auction is easy and you can get a great deal if you know what you’re doing.

In a previous article, we talked about the pro’s and con’s, which is a must-read if you’re new to online car auctions. It does take a little more due diligence than going into a car dealership and purchasing a car.

If you go through the tips outlined below, you’ll have a better idea of the process and whether or not buying a car at an online auction is feasible for you…

1) Know the Current Market Value

After you get all the specs of the vehicle, you can easily find out the current estimated car value via the Kelly Blue Book website. Most car auctions will have a description of the car that includes mileage, VIN number, whether or not it’s been smog tested, etc.

2) The Car Is Purchased “As Is”

Just like anything that is purchased via an online auction, cars are sold in “as is” condition. There are no warranties or guarantees. This makes it especially important to do as much research as you can on the car before placing a bid.

3) Mechanical Issues, If Any

If you know someone who is a good mechanic or knows their way around under the hood of a car, we recommend bringing them to preview the car. With our auctions you are not able to test drive vehicles, but you can turn on the ignition.

4) Vehicle History

It’s good to know if the car has been in any previous accidents or how many owners it has had in the past. If you have the VIN number of the car, you can order an AutoCheck or CarFax vehicle history report.

5) What Taxes or Fees Are Involved

Depending on where the auction house is located, you may need to pay state sales tax and/or DMV fees to have the car registered if it is expired. Another fee you should know about is the buyer’s premium or transaction fee. Here at CalAuctions we charge a 15% buyer’s premium. For example, if the final selling price for a car is $5,000, you would pay an $850 fee.

6) Can You Preview the Car?

Most public auctions allow you to preview the car prior to placing a bid. The auction company will publish the date and time of the preview day(s) on their website.

7) How Much Will It Cost to Ship?

If you’re purchasing a vehicle that is located in another area, you should research the price of shipping before placing a bid.

If you have any other questions about buying a car at an online auction, let us know! We currently have a few estate vehicles up for auction (closing on September 5th) that includes a 2002 Porsche, a 2007 Jaguar XK convertible, and more. Click here to view the catalog and register to bid!