There are dealer auctions all over the country that are open to the public. This means that anyone has the ability to purchase a car at an auction, even without a dealer’s license. For many, this is the perfect way to snag a great car for a great price. Online auctions allow customers to expand their search to zip codes anywhere in the country, increasing their chances of finding the right car. Furthermore, they are a great way for frugal buyers to save quite a bit of money. That said, it is important to consider the implications of buying a car in another state. Without proper planning and research, you could end up paying more than you expected or you might end up landing a lemon. If you want to ensure you get the right car for the right price, consider the following tips before participating in an online car auction.
Do Your Homework Ahead of Time
Online car auctions typically showcase hundreds of cars in all makes and models. This can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t know exactly what they are looking for. For this reason, you should do your homework ahead of time and learn as much as you can about the specific cars you are interested in. Decide what type of car you want and try to narrow down your search to just one or two make and models. This will help you weed out any cars that don’t match your search criteria.
Plan for Shipping Costs
In most cases, cars at an online auction will be located hundreds of miles away from you. That means you need to consider your shipping and delivery options before settling on a budget. Be sure and factor in the cost for shipping so you can set an appropriate budget.
Research Bidding Strategies
Especially if this is your first time bidding at an online auction, you might want to learn a few bidding strategies. Although no strategy is guaranteed to work, it certainly can’t hurt to have a few extra tricks up your sleeve.
Set a Max Bid
Once you have decided on a make and model, research the Kelly Blue Book price for the type of vehicle you are interested in. This will give you a better idea of what you should expect to pay for the car. From there, determine what you are willing to pay and set a max bid. Remember, you are also going to have to pay shipping and delivery fees. Setting a max budget will prevent you from overspending on a car. After all, it’s better to lose the car than to pay more than you can afford for it.
Consider the Car’s Mileage
When you are looking at cars online, it’s easy to get swept away by a shiny exterior, fancy wheels, excellent gas mileage, or other extra features. However, you never want to overlook a car’s mileage. The average annual mileage for a standard vehicle is 12,000 miles. A car’s mileage will tell a lot about the car’s history. Typically, car’s with higher mileage will have more wear and tear and they may also have a shorter lifespan. Consider additional repair and maintenance costs that typically go along with mileage such as tires, brakes, timing belts, water pump, and spark plugs. You want to be mindful of mileage so you aren’t turning right around and putting additional money into your car.
Check Out the Age and History of the Vehicle
You want to look closely at the age, condition, and history of the vehicle. Online auctions should provide you with photos of the vehicle as well as information regarding the history and condition of the car. For instance, a car that is several years old with very few miles may have been sitting in a garage for years without being driven. This can present a number of issues. Likewise, a vehicle that has been wrecked may have problems that you can’t necessarily detect on the exterior. The more research you can do ahead of time, the more confident you will feel in your decision when you place your bid.
Stay Calm and Bid Smart
Try not to get caught up in the excitement and frenzy of the online auction. You never want to get too attached to a vehicle and you want to try and keep a level head at all times. Develop a strategy and stick to it. Also, keep your budget in mind and do not exceed this limit. The last thing you want is to overpay for a car in the heat of the moment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.
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