We buy nearly everything online these days, so it’s no surprise that we’re buying more of our vehicles online. Whether you’re looking for a used BMW to take to work, a clunker to take out to the lake, or just some spare parts, online car auctions are a great way to get what you need. Here are some basics tips for getting the most out of them.
Do your research
Every car has a ranking and a Kelly Blue Book value. While those scores aren’t always infallible, it’s a good idea to check them out before you do anything else. When you’re working with an auction, it’s easy to get carried away with the bidding and fail to stick to what you know you can afford and what the item is worth.
In addition to researching the worth of any car you’re interested in, you should also research other types of cars that might work just as well for you. The more options you have, the more likely it is that you’ll find something suitable that you can afford.
Understand how to auction
An auto auction isn’t like other types of online auction sites. In other auctions, everyone bids during the open auction until the timer reaches zero. When that happens, the highest bid automatically wins. Auction times can last hours or even days.
In a car auction, the auction period is actually quite short and measured in minutes rather than hours. The car will be up on the site for quite a while, first to allow everyone to research the vehicle and the VIN number before making a bid.
Once you’ve found a car or two that you’re interested in, you choose to “attend” the auction. Someone from the auction site will contact you to let you know how to do so. In some cases, you’ll have the option to buy the car immediately if you prefer to avoid the auction or to make a preliminary bid.
Inspecting the vehicle
If you find a car you’re interested in online, you can and should inspect it. You can either do this yourself or hire a third party to do it for you. Here are some of the things you want to look at when inspecting a used car:
Body damage: Is the car straight? Can you find ripples in the bodywork or evidence of damage from a crash? Take a look underneath to see the status of the frame. Depending on your reasons for buying, you may be willing to take a car with bodywork in any sort of shape, but this step helps you evaluate what price you’re willing to pay.
Mileage: Today’s vehicles are perfectly capable of reaching 200,000 miles if they are maintained well. If you’re looking at a high-mileage vehicle without any maintenance record, you may want to be wary; but if the maintenance record is available you’ll know if it’s a good deal.
Interior damage: Water damage to the inside of the vehicle or the trunk can be a serious issue. Mold is very hard to get rid of and can take expensive and time-consuming work to repair. If a car has been involved in a flood, avoid it like the plague.
Tires: The state of the tires isn’t a big deal with a used car since they’re so easy to replace. What you do want to look for is uneven wearing on the treads. This could mean that the suspension is not aligned or that the previous owner drove poorly.
Suspension: The important thing to check here is the alignment and the state of the shocks. If the shocks are fine, the vehicle should be good to go. If the shocks are worn out and the car was driven for a while in that state, you might be looking at a lot of work to get the suspension functional.
Online car auctions can be a great way to get an amazing deal on the car you need. Just be sure to think carefully about what you want, do your research, and check out any car before you buy.