When you’re looking for affordable vehicles, there’s only one place to go: auctions. There, you can buy used ones with deep discounts. Think of at least 25 percent less than its book value. Many of them are still in good condition, so you can drive them for a few years, sell them, and earn a profit. It then allows you to recover a part of the bid price.
In auto auctions, you will encounter a variety of cars. Besides conventional cars, you’ll also find:
- Salvage cars – These are vehicles that are already so damaged the insurance claim is not enough to cover the cost. The cars become totaled. Many salvage cars, however, can be restored in their good condition. At this point, they have rebuilt titles. These cars are hard to insure, but they’re incredibly cheap given their history.
- Electric cars – These are cars that run on battery. They need to be charged to an external outlet. They are considered more fuel efficient, smoother, quieter, and more environment friendly. Electric cars are very expensive to buy in the market. They can cost you about $30,000. An auction is a good place to get one by spending significantly less.
- Ex rental cars – These are vehicles sold by car rental companies. These businesses always change models because of trend and demand. But as a way of recouping their expenses, they sell their old cars in an auction.
But do you know you can also buy other things besides cars?
Why Do We Have Auctions Anyway?
Before we get into them, let’s talk about why we have auto auctions and these items for bidding. There are many reasons why:
- They have been seized. Seized vehicles are those obtained by the government through the police, task, or defense force. The seizures occur when the government has a reason to believe that the owners are involved in illegal or criminal activities such as terrorism, money laundering, and fraud. They get these properties as a form of evidence and based on the assumption the owners bought them using “dirty money.” If the court believes these assets are clean, then the owners get them back. Otherwise, they are left on the care of the police force.
The problem is vehicles of all types require maintenance, and maintenance needs money. Government agencies, meanwhile, operate on a budget. They don’t have the means to keep them for a long time. Thus, they sell these vehicles in an auction, and the proceeds go toward their efforts.
- Owners can’t pay them anymore. A huge reason why the United States has one of the most number of vehicles is because of financing. It’s easy to get a loan for a vehicle, and it’s practical too. You don’t exhaust your savings by paying for an expensive property.
Owners, though, need to repay their debts. Lenders are usually relaxed on these situations. For example, they can grant a grace period or restructure the loan to make it easier and more affordable to pay for the customer. After all, it’s more time-consuming if they sue the client for an amount. They may also allow the owners not to pay for three months. However, if they still fail to settle their growing dues on the fourth month, they are considered default, and the lender now has the option to repossess the vehicle.
However, the vehicles don’t contribute to the lender’s cash flow. They have to be converted to cash, and that’s when they participate in an auction. Many of these types of vehicles are cheap since the lender’s main priority is to recover the losses.
Kinds of Vehicles You See in an Auto Auction
Besides cars, what else can you find in an auto auction?
Do you know how much yachts cost? Many of them are pricier than some of the most expensive commercial cars in the market! Some of them can even be worth millions. The good news is if you join an auto auction you have a much better chance of owning one because it is now more affordable.
Yachts are large, so it’s very rare to see them being auctioned in a confined space. These auto auctions are usually held in an open parking lot or near a marina where the yachts up for bidding become more accessible.
One of the best things about joining an auto auction with a yacht is you can have the opportunity to board one. You can enter and inspect every section. In some cases, the auctioneer gives you a better idea about the sailing lifestyle by serving cocktails prior to the actual auction event.
Do you fancy a more carefree, adventurous lifestyle? Then a motorcycle fits the bill. These vehicles are significantly cheaper than cars, but you can even get them way less when you participate in an auction. For example, a 2003 Harley-Davidson FLHRI can have an average price of about $6,500. When you get it an auction, you may pay only $4,500. Granted, the latter is already used, but many of them are still in mint condition. They can still run for years, so you can get your money back in no time.
Besides modern motorcycles, you can also spot vintage ones. These are more expensive because they can already be limited edition, out of production, or collectible. But a lot of them make good investments as their value can increase over time.
You can definitely find a wide variety of trucks in an auto auction. Some of these can be farm trucks, tow trucks, trailer and flatbed trucks, and industrial trucks. In other words, if you’re planning to open a business and spend less on your equipment, then the auction is one of the best places to save money.
They may look the same, but there are actually different types of ambulances, and each should be built according to specifications. Types I and III are very similar except for the chassis used and their position with respect to the chassis. These are the ones that feature a square compartment at the back where the patient lies on a stretcher while being transported to a medical facility.
There’s also type II, which has more raised roofs. If types II and III are commonly used in airports and other public spaces, type II is the one employed by medical facilities. You can also have a customized van for biohazard procedures.
Hospitals may retire their ambulances because they are old or they no longer fit the purpose these facilities have in mind. The good thing about ambulances is they’re big and can be retrofitted for another use.
- Police Cars
Although this is technically a car, this deserves a mention since it is still not the conventional vehicle. Due to the nature of their job, police don’t just need cars. They require one that is reliable all the time. For this reason, they retire vehicles quite a lot. As to when it depends on the rules of the department as well as the recommendations of the manufacturer. Sometimes the force buys new vehicles once they clock in 100,000 miles. Others may do so earlier such as before they hit 70.
As mentioned before, a police department usually works around a budget, and it is not as large as you’d like to think. Thus, they can’t keep old cars for a long period. They also need to raise more money in order to buy new units. With the help of Government Services Administration (GSA), they can sell their old ones in an auction.
Would you like to be part of the nomad lifestyle? Would you want to convert a bus into a home? How about using it as a school bus or a coach for tourists? Whatever you have in mind, an auction probably has the right bus for you. These vehicles also come in a variety of sizes, designs, and seating capacity.
- Camper Vans and Motor Homes
A motor home can be very costly. On the average, you’ll end up spending $100,000. This already comes with the basic amenities or quarters. If you desire to own one for your travels or for a permanent home, save some money via an auto auction.
Some auctions can be a combination of many things, which means they don’t simply offer vehicles. They may also sell jewelry, houses, and even money.
How to Participate in an Auction
Are you ready to join an auto auction? There are a few things to remember.
There are different kinds of auctions. One is the dealers-only auction. As its name suggests, it is intended only for vehicle dealers. A huge reason is the fact they bid wholesale. Vehicles, thus, get sold very quickly. It is usually an exclusive event, which explains why you don’t often see ads about them.
Another is the government auction. This is usually facilitated by the GSA. They either organize it or work with an auction house, which will oversee everything. This is almost always a public event. You can go to the GSA website to check out items that are available for auction. You can also read the newspaper or ask your local council.
Then there’s the online auction. A good part of the process happens in the Internet. You can browse the items available for bidding. When you’re ready to place a bid, you can register and then bid. You wait for the bidding time to end. It can run for a few hours to days. If you win, you need to go to the auction house and pay the amount along with other fees or charges.
The last one is the private auction. This is also very common and has one of the highest number of attendees. To participate, you need to pay an entry fee. This is different from the bid fees and other charges you need to settle after you’ve won the bid.
Keeping track of all these auto auctions is challenging, yet you also should not miss them. You can make it easier for you to monitor them by subscribing to an auction list. It is updated on a daily basis so you’ll know which auctions are happening around the country. The list will provide you with some initial information such as a link to the auction site.
If the auction has a website, there’s a good chance you can start bidding online. If not, you can start browsing through the photos. You can also filter your choices from models to types, color, make, and year.
When you have all the information ready and paid your entry fee, you can then check the schedule of the viewing. It normally happens a day before the actual auction. It is a good time to perform your inspections, so bring along a mechanic. You may also want to start early to give you time to check many vehicles and avoid a crowd. Start taking notes of the vehicles you like.
During the auction schedule, arrive early so you can prepare yourself physically and mentally. Keep your Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds and NADA handy. You need them to give you a good idea about how much to bid for the vehicle. The entire auction can take for hours, but the bidding for an item can end within seconds. You need to be alert and attentive.
You don’t have to stay for the bidding the entire time. If you have won the vehicle you’ve wanted, you can approach one of the persons in charge to start processing your documents. You may need to pay a particular amount and fees. You also need to submit particular papers to transfer the ownership to you. It may take a day or two to complete the process, after which you can now take the vehicle home.
Joining an auto auction opens your eyes to the reality that you do have many choices for your vehicle. A lot of them will also tickle your imagination that will open doors for new exciting opportunities. Let yourself experience all these by joining an auction at least once.