Tips for Attending Your First Auto Auction

You’ve probably heard the rumors with used car auctions. Hearing some, like a Mercedes that went for under $1000, make you want to drop everything and rush over. Other rumors, like rolled back odometers and washed titles, make you want to avoid them at all costs.

Truth is, most auto auctions fall somewhere in the middle. At Chappelle’s, we carry vehicles in all conditions (save for the washed titles part). Reason being, our buyers come for all sorts of reasons—from getting a reliable car for regular transport to buying one just for parts.

So for attending your first auto auction, you want to play this right. These cars typically are bought for absurdly good value, but it definitely helps to know what you’re doing.

Here are some tips to make sure you are best prepared for your first auto auction:

1. Research market value

Even though you’re at an auto auction, and you’re going to get a car for well below it’s blue book value, you still want to set some pricing guidelines for yourself. A tool like AutoTempest’s search engine lets you search a range of used vehicles to compare prices. After all, you don’t want to spend an extra $1000 when you can get the same car down the street.

2. Arrive early

Not all auto auctions allow you to do this. If they do, you want to take advantage of it. This time allows you to do your due diligence, so you can set yourself up to make an educated purchase.

3. Bring a car expert, or someone with car knowledge

Remember, these are used cars. For one, these auctions move very quickly, so it helps to have a knowledgeable voice in your ear. On the other hand, it will help you in your “research” phase to spot important details.

4. Give a healthy inspection

Sales here are final. Make sure you and your car buddy tour the car—including the interior and under the hood—to get an accurate understanding of its condition. Of course this will help you set your bidding range, but it will also prepare you for what type of maintenance you may have to account for.

5. Check title documentation

You’re looking here for a salvage title. Having one means the car has been wrecked and then repaired. Not all dealers and auctions are forthcoming about this. A salvage title doesn’t make a car “off limits”, it’s just good to take that into account as you bid.

Now, these tips are here to help you once you get there. Choosing the right auction is another issue altogether.

Many auctions are questioned for their legitimacy. We’ve heard some real horror stories about what’s out there. Be sure to ask around, and especially try to hear testimonials from those who have purchased from that auction before.

We at Chappelle’s invite you to our auctions, both in Vancouver and Battle Ground. If anything, you can see who’s there and what the car stock looks like. If you’d like to participate, then by all means, please do! You have all the tips you need to make a smart purchase.

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