Car Auctions Growing in Popularity in U.S.

Buying a car from an auction house has become more and more popular in the United States, where it was slower to catch on than in places like Japan. Strong car auction companies have sprung up, and consumers are learning that they can save hundreds of dollars on the car of their dreams.

Because of the Internet, it’s now possible to search and locate a specific vehicle from just about any area of the country. If you do your homework, chances are that you’ll find the vehicle you want in good condition.

Copart, for instance, one of the biggest car auctions, lists 86,000-plus vehicles on its website. Other major auction houses, like Adesa, Manheim, and IAA, claim to move thousands of vehicles each week.

If you feel comfortable with bidding and you know what you want, you can register with any of these sites and get started with your search. If you are new to the auction scene and would like the services of a veteran, you can hire a registered broker. (Here’s a little video on what a registered broker does, courtesy of Copart)

How-to From The Experts

Manheim, another giant auction house, also offers tools– videos on auction-related topics such as ‘how to use your mobile device to bid,’ to ‘how to buy on simulcast’, to ‘how to prep vehicles for transport’.

If you get your hands on the run list before going to auctions, you’ll see the autos to be sold; auction sites, dates, and times; a vehicle’s lane position; and the number of vehicles to be sold.

IAA– Insurance Auto Auctions– has a page with FAQs. One category is ‘common industry terms’. You probably want to check this page if you’re puzzled by the mention of terms like ACV (Actual Cash Value, or the estimated retail value of a vehicle if it’s in undamaged condition).

Finance and rental companies use auctions to sell off vehicles that have been leased or rented and have outlived their rental lifespan. Car dealerships sell trade-in vehicles. The government (IRS and other agencies) disposes of seized vehicles, or vehicles from their own administrative fleet.

There are also specialized houses such as RM Auctions, which deals with classic autos; and a site that offers government-owned fleet vehicles.

eBay has become a very popular site for online auctions. You can browse by vehicle type on eBay Motors, or use the drop-down menu.

All of the big car auction houses now use some combination of live auctions and Internet bidding. Whether you are a serious shopper or just want to browse, a car auction can be fun and fiscally rewarding.