Everyone wants to save money when buying a used car. One of the best ways to do that is by purchasing your (new) used car at an auto auction. Florida is home to many well-known public auctions, so you have plenty of opportunities for great deals. How do you find new and used car auctions? And what can you expect at an auto auction? Keep reading!
Finding a Car Auction in Florida
Not all car auctions are open to the public, but you can find more than a few that will let you place a bid without being a car dealer. Some of them specialize — for instance, in classic cars — while others feature a wide variety of used cars for sale. Take a look at these significant Florida car auctions:
Auto Auction Mall: This auction house located in the Miami area makes available to everyday buyers the same wholesale deals available to car dealers. The concierge service helps 200,000 buyers a month search dealer inventory by make, model and vehicle type to find the right deal. Are you looking for a specific model of Honda, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Toyota or other make? You should be able to find it here. Financing and shipping are also often available.
CAS Auto Miami: This auction house specializes in cars being sold under a salvage certificate. Some salvage cars are virtually new with ultra low mileage, while others require significant rebuilding. The company sells more than 60 different models, including many luxury vehicles, and all are labeled with the type of damage they've incurred (wind, flood, accident, etc.).
County Auto Auction: Located in Haines City, this company holds auctions twice a week, with a live run list posted online for your perusal. Contact one of their reps to bid by fax if you can't be there in person.
Dealers Auto Auction: This company has three fixed auction locations throughout Florida, and they'll also come to car dealers to hold car auctions where they're needed. Look for their auctions, typically open to car dealers only, two or three times a month.
J.J. Kane Auctioneers: This company conducts public car auctions out of West Palm Beach. Sales have no reserves and no minimums, making it possible for anyone to get a dynamite price on a used car.
Orlando Auto Auction: This auction firm moves more than 300 cars per week, with more than two dozen new car dealers participating. You'll also find sales of GSA fleet vehicles every month, plus sales of autos seized by U.S. Marshals.th
Orlando Classic Cars: This specialty company sells Ford Model As from the 1930s, Thunderbirds from the '50s, Mustangs from the '60s and muscle cars from the 1970s, with everything else in between. Turn to them when you're looking for something particular, and let them search across the United States to find you the right classic vehicle.
Orlando Longwood Auto Auction: Here, you can expect to find 2,000 or more vehicles moving through the auction house weekly. Bidding is also available online on a 24/7 basis.
Salvage Now: This salvage-only auto auction house based in Delray Beach sells salvage cars with clean titles, including vehicles from fleets, rental car agencies, and dealers, making it an ideal choice for rebuilders and recyclers to check out. The auction never ends at this house, which takes bids round the clock online.
South Florida Auto Auction: Every Wednesday morning, this Fort Lauderdale auction house sells cars to eager buyers, with a simulcast available for buyers who aren't able to be present in person.
Now that you know where to go to take advantage of public car auctions, how can you prepare for an auto auction?
How To Prepare for Bidding at Public Auto Auctions
Remember, not all car auctions are open to the public. If you see the car you want being auctioned at a dealer auction, you may be able to strike a deal with a local car dealer to bid on your behalf. Barring that, pay attention to the public auctions and online auctions available to you.
Most car auction houses publish a run list that shows you what cars they have in their inventory. Prepare for bidding by researching the cars that you're interested in and determining what you're willing to pay for your top choices.
Each car's vehicle identification number provides you with access to the vehicle's history. Make sure you conduct comprehensive research on every vehicle to understand its history thoroughly. Also, research what the car is worth through a reliable source, such as Kelley Blue Book.
Many cars being sold at auction have something wrong with them. Maybe they've been in an accident. Perhaps they're fleet vehicles or former rental cars that have been driven hard during their lifespan. You may even be looking at vehicles that have suffered flood damage or are being sold as with salvage titles. Make sure you understand what's needed to bring each car you're considering up to a level of drivability that you're comfortable with.
As you get ready to bid, be aware that cars sold at auction don't come with guarantees. Auction houses don't conduct mechanical or physical reviews of the vehicles, so what you see is what you get.
Also, set a hard limit on the funds you're willing to spend — and don't bid beyond those limits. As prices quickly go up during an auction, it can be very tempting to convince yourself to bid just a little over your limit, only to find yourself vastly overspending by the time the auction is over. As you determine what you're willing to spend on each car you bid on, factor into your costs what you'll have to spend on any repairs, and include that amount in your limits.
Don't forget that the auction house and the car dealer (if any) have to make some money on the sale as well. Ask whether you should expect to pay a buyer's premium on the car, and factor that into your cost preparations. Also, if the vehicle you purchase isn't immediately driveable, you may have to arrange and pay for shipping.
If you do your research and plan carefully, you can find fantastic deals — and maybe your dream car — by taking advantage of car auctions.