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Buying a Car at an Auto Auction: Tip and Tricks to Come Away a Winner


Throwing in your bid at an auto auction at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana is both thrilling and challenging. Read on for the best tips for buying a car at auction

Look at the inventory listing and pick a few vehicles to check out.

Check our online listing to narrow down your favorites. Are you looking to resell? For a muscle car? Something for your son or daughter? What is your goal for the day? It's good to know which cars you're keeping your eye out for before you get caught up in the excitement of bidding.

Inspect the vehicles beforehand.

Volunteers of America holds a preview the Friday before the auction from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. While there you'll be able to check underneath for fluid spills, pop the hood and inspect the car like you would buying any used car.

Establish what you're willing to pay.

Determine a price ceiling before you bid on a vehicle you are interested in. Don't forget that your final price will include taxes, registration and other fees on top of the winning bid price. How can you determine what you should pay for individual cars? Keep reading.

Use an independent source to determine the wholesale and retail values of your target vehicle.

The most frequently used sites include Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, AutoTrader Classics and NADA Guides. Doing your due diligence will give you a good idea of what you would expect to pay for a car outside of auction.

Get some practice.

Auctions can be simultaneously thrilling and overwhelming. Volunteers of America holds auctions every other Saturday—don't be shy to just stop in and observe. Sometimes it's best to attend an auction to learn the ropes before making the plunge. Watch the auctioneer and the other buyers so you can get a feel for the fast–paced culture of the auction ring.

Stay flexible.

You'll want to have a game plan as to the condition you're comfortable with and your budget. You need to roll with the punches to find the car that works for you. Be as flexible as you can.

Donate Your Vehicle

Interested in donating your vehicle in Ohio? We accept nearly anything with a motor–cars, boats, RVs, motorcycles, tractors–running or not. It's as simple as filling out our online vehicle donation form or calling 614-870-7511. We offer free same-day towing, not to mention you could receive more money for your automobile as a charitable donation than you would selling it privately.