Friday, March 25, 2016

Why You Should Consider A Car Auction

Ford F-150

             In most cities there is a car auction. Most of them take place in the same place weekly or monthly.  It may take you some time to locate them. Some auctions are dealers only and others are happy to do business with anyone.  For someone like me who lives in the country, it's a lot of work to seek out the car auctions and then to arrive in time for the lengthy procession.  However, it is well worth the work.
                   Yes, like the rest of you I used to go to a new car dealer, buy a car and make a monthly payment to a bank or credit union. When I have done that I have always had a great car, but a car with a lien on it requires additional insurance and so the cost of the car isn't simply the payment, maintenance and repairs. It comes with pricey insurance. In our state, it also comes with semi-annual fees for personal property tax.  Over the years with a farm, kids, animals, college for kids, the entire concept of a car payment became undesirable to me. I simply would rather own a used car for which I have paid cash, and where I get the chance to decide the level of insurance I have on it. I also like being in possession of my own title to my cars.

Yes, it's a Ford Focus

                  Typically at a car auction, you are going to need a debit card, a check for certified funds or cash. A few may take checks, but run careful checks on them in advance. Some require prior registration before bidding.  You won't be making a monthly payment to them. Most take a percentage down the day of the auction, once you've won the bid and you have about five days to make the remaining payment before picking up the car. Most of the cars are driveable because the cars did  have to get there for the auction. In our state, a special trip tag is issued by our Division of Motor Vehicles and so long as you are a licensed driver who has insurance on another car, you have a day to get the car you have bought off their property and home to yours. Your taking the title they give you to DMV and getting plates, a registration and a new title with your own name on  is your responsibility. Don't forget to put the car on your own insurance using its VIN # before you drive it home.

Toyota Tacoma

                The car auction I most recently attended occurs in the evening. Smart shoppers turn up in the daylight and look carefully at a bit more than a hundred and fifty cars.  Some of these cars are being auctioned by individuals and they have a minimum bid in mind. If they don't get it, the car will be there next week with perhaps a lower minimum. Many are repossessions owned by banks who are desperately trying to get something for them. When sales are slow both new and used car dealers will auction occasional cars in this manner.  The auction I attended had everything.  There were Nissan Altimas, Subarus, Toyotas, a mini Cooper, a  BMW, a Mercedes, a couple of VWs, Fords of every flavor, Chevys, Saturns, Hondas, a Saab, Kias, a variety of Jeeps, Mercury, Dodge, Pontiac, Chrysler, Volvo, Hyundai, Buick, Land Rover and Infinity.  SUVs, wagons, sportscars, trucks including a former modified vet's truck.  They had plenty of standard shift and plenty of automatic transmission. Occasionally they auction minibuses or motorcycles.  Sometimes other types of vehicles come up. It is not possible to look at every car pre-auction. You must make a decision as to which target cars you plan to look at, and restrict yourself to perhaps three to five of them, otherwise you will be bidding on a car you know little about.  Most have been through recent inspection, and have the paperwork in the car. If they have failed inspection, exactly why is written on the state certificate in the car.  Bring either a mechanic with you, or someone who is your family's gear head.  Fortunately, I have a few of those in my family.  Some of the cars look new and could be considered very good used cars. Others have significant cosmetic issues which can still be repaired.  The clearcoat needed attention on a number of the really good cars which is a problem in sunny Virginia. A good body shop or Maaco can take care of this for you, if everything else is to your liking.  Trucks with tow capabilities were abundant.  In this particular auction you are permitted to watch the auction staff drive the car from the lot to the auction area. You may listen to the engine. You may not gun the engine or place it in gear yourself. You may pop the hood and look at everything in the daylight prior to the auction.  With the VIN # if you have an internet enabled device you can run a Carfax report on the car if you wish. We did this on one of the cars we actually bought.

Land Rover

               The keys to success are making sure you have adequate money to make both the downpayment and then close the deal within five days. You must remove the car immediately upon paying so that they can bring new cars in.  If you are not a mechanic, then you should bring a professional or gifted amateur to help steer you. Do your brand research ahead of time.  Don't plan to get a Toyota and be seduced by the Land Rover, pretty as it may be.  Look carefully prior to the auction in the harsh light of day at the cars you believe you would bid on.  As the auction starts you will see some cars where a number of people bid. However, there are great cars where no one bids, and the car remains for sale after the auction.  Often people have never clear ideas about what they want, and something just off their radar won't get any attention. Don't get carried away. If the bidding gets too high, walk away.  . Your bid is your contract and you will be held to it. Bid on something else from your reserve list. Understand that you are buying at your own risk, so don't overpay.

               In our state, only licensed professional dealers are permitted to buy cars, fix them up and sell them again. The law also requires that the cars have warranties if they are sold in a manner other than auction.  So, this is likely not to become your next way to make money. It is however, a brilliant way to get a spare car, a car for a teen or college student, or one for a mother-in-law with an horrendous driving record.  It was a great way for me to buy and outfit an evacuation vehicle slated for occasional use.

                It IS possible to buy a beautiful car for very little money if you are willing to repair something or detail the car afterward.  Cars sell for anywhere between $400. and thousands.  The day that I was last there, cars sold for about $2000. on average and there were some amazing buys.  During the auction, there are often police present. (People may carry cash.) Your competition for the cars are often dealers, although there are dealer only auctions elsewhere.  The dealers still may not be difficult competition because they are incredibly particular and as a rule won't pay much.  Individuals and families tend to be there for a particular car. Often if someone is clearly committed to a particular vehicle, others will stand back and let them get it. (Why compete and pay more ?) On the night we last attended, there were about 150 people looking at a bit more than 150 cars.  Even dealers won't buy more than one or two cars per night. This means the odds are very good for people who wish to buy.   Some of the people who attend are simply learning and plan to buy another time.  Some couples were there for date night, because it can be fun and there is carnival style food served.

Subaru Forester

           Our extended family has bought some amazing vehicles this way.  For preppers especially, this may be a good way of acquiring a needed vehicle without taking on a car payment. It will also build to your knowledge on cars, what their parts cost, what to look at on an engine prior to purchase, and how to do routine maintenance. Most importantly, it helps you keep cash available for your emergency fund, paying down other debt, emergency food stocks etc.  Do some research as to what is possible in your own area.