If you want to buy a car, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can go to a local dealer, visit a nearby auction or bid online with a reputable source. With so many online options, you need to be careful what company you choose, so you don’t get scammed. That’s why we outline the best online car auction websites for you to choose from.
In this guide, we cover the basics of each of these online auctions. Our recommendation also discusses who each platform is designed for. At the end of the article, we review some tips to purchasing cars online at auctions.
Top 10 Best Online Car Auction Websites
One of the most popular is eBay Motors, but you should also consider Auto Auction Mall, ACV Auctions and ADESA. However, you might find that OVE, IAAI, AutoBidMaster, Capital Auto Auction, A Better Bid or Cars and Bids works better for your needs.
1. eBay Motors – Best Online Car Auction Website
If you haven’t heard of eBay Motors by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock. It’s, no doubt, the most popular online auction platform available. With this site, you can find the new or used vehicle you are looking for, as well as the parts needed to repair it. If you don’t like the vehicle after you purchase it, you will have no trouble reselling it on the same platform.
Car dealers and private sellers all use eBay to unload vehicles, so you can find a variety of options. Plus, searching for your particular car is easy to do with all of the filters available. If you’ve used eBay, you will understand the bidding process, which is the same through eBay Motors.
Along with the option to bid, you can also choose to “Buy it Now” if the seller has allowed that option. Instead of trying to outbid someone, just put in an offer on the car you want. However, you must use discretion as not all sellers are upstanding citizens. Check the person’s feedback history and carefully read the description before you agree to buy anything.
2. Auto Auction Mall
This website might not be as well-known as eBay Motors, but it’s worth your time. Not only are there many vehicles to choose from, but they also sell many salvage cars too, if you are looking for a project. Plus, motorsport fans can find what they need as well.
You don’t need a dealer license to bid on the vehicles, even though you will get them for wholesale prices. If you choose carefully, you could save a lot of money. However, you will be required to put down 10% of your spending limit as a security deposit before you can bid on anything. Once the auction is over, you will also need to pay the $299 fee. With all of that said, there’s no membership fee to join.
With Auto Auction Mall, you can choose some financing deals to pay for the vehicle. Depending on your credit, you might be able to put nothing down and get super competitive interest rates. If you have any trouble figuring out how to do this, talk to the helpful customer support team.
3. ACV Auctions
ACV is meant for dealers only, but it’s a great digital platform for finding some of the best deals. You can buy or sell used vehicles with ease. The digital auction goes on for twenty minutes at specified times.
What dealers love about the platform is the attention to detail. Unlike other companies, pictures are taken of just about everything, including the undercarriage. They also play a clip of the engine running, so you can listen for strange or unusual noises.
With ten days of arbitration available, you don’t have to worry about getting a piece of junk. Plus, you can pay for up to a month of arbitration if you want more guarantees.
Another dealer-only site is ADESA. This organization hosts many in-person auctions, but there’s also an online platform worth using. You can bid on vehicles throughout the world. Plus, there are other services available to users, such as inspections, title help and financing.
Nationwide banks, auto dealers, fleet providers and car rental companies sell their vehicles through ADESA, so you gain access to the best options. The organization prides itself on having the most one-owner, low-mileage cars. For this reason, it could be the best place to find high-quality used vehicles.
If you are a car dealer, you have probably participated in the Manheim auctions. These are some of the most popular in the country. However, you might not know about OVE.com, which is an online subsidiary of Manheim.
This membership-only website offers a huge range of cars and trucks to choose from. You can get a high-quality used car or salvage vehicles to rebuild.
Plus, members gain access to regular specials that help you save even more. For example, the company regularly holds a 10K or Under Sale, giving you access to major bargains.
Insurance Auto Auctions hosts the IAAI bidding. This company has been around since 1982, so you know it has experience with running a tight ship. You can find perfectly-good used vehicles, salvage cars and recovered cars that were once listed as stolen.
The best part about this platform is that non-dealers can also bid. You will need to use the company’s broker services to place bids and pay an extra $200 per year for a membership. There are also dealer-only auctions offered that you won’t be able to bid during, but at least there’s an option to get something.
IAAI can orchestrate auto transportation after the auction if you don’t want to pick the vehicles up. You can also take advantage of some of the flexible financing options.
This online platform is run by Copart. The online auctions can be used by dealers and regular buyers alike. Registration is completely free and takes less than a minute. Once you are registered, you can browse the entire inventory.
During the daily or weekly auctions, you can have access to more than 150,000 vehicles. There are also other vehicles offered occasionally, such as RVs, motorcycles or ATVs. Because the platform is worldwide, you can also tap into the translation features to do business abroad.
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8. Capital Auto Auction
If you live in the northeast, you might prefer Capital Auto Auction. This platform airs the live car auctions three times a week from its locations in the District of Columbia. The company prides itself on having countless cars for less than $1k at each auction, helping you get a real deal.
Registration is completely free, so you have nothing to lose. However, there is a fee charged to bid on a car. Plus, you will have fees on the purchase price of the car. Once you log into the site, you can review the applicable fees to see if it is still a good deal for you.
9. A Better Bid
You might not choose A Better Bid as your first choice because the selection isn’t quite as large as some of the others. However, the company adds new options every day, so there’s always something to look at.
Plus, you can find more than just regular cars on the site. It’s a great platform to find EVs, motorcycles, RVs, ATVs and more. Additionally, there’s no dealer license needed if you want to place a bid. There’s a handy filter that allows you to show only vehicles with a clean title if you are looking to avoid parts cars. Otherwise, you might want to see what deals you can find on a salvage car that you can turn into a project.
While registration is free, you will need to pay some fees for the auction that’s won. Each transaction charges another $250, along with any other fees that can be charged. However, if you are going to buy a lot, you will prefer the Premium Membership. While it is another $150 per year, you get lower transaction fees and an extra five vehicle history reports to check the cars.
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10. Cars and Bids
While this is a newer platform, it’s worth mentioning because it’s quickly growing a following. You can find vintage and newer cars on the same site, plus everything is simple to use. You can search with several filters to narrow down the results to what you want.
If you are looking to sell your vehicle, you don’t have to pay anything. Cars and Bids doesn’t even make you buy a vehicle history report because it is supplied to buyers for free. On top of that, you don’t need to wait months for your car to get into the lineup. This platform has some of the fastest turnaround times, making it a top choice if you want to dump a vehicle.
From the buyer’s standpoint, there are some fees to familiarize yourself with. There will be a 4.5% charge for any transaction. The minimum fee is $225 and the most you will spend is $4,500. As the site continues growing in popularity, you will see selling prices rise higher, so get involved before that happens.
What Online Car Auction Website Should You Use?
The best online car auction site depends on what your needs are. If you are a private buyer, you might want to start on eBay Motors. You can find options located near you and get a feel for the reputation of the buyer. Plus, there are some buying protections.
If you have exhausted your resources on eBay Motors and haven’t found what you want, try out a few of the other online platforms that don’t require a dealer license. With most having a free registration, you can set up an account and take a peek before committing to doing anything else.
Of course, the best possibility is that you have a dealer license, which opens up the options much more. You can take advantage of the dealer-only auction sites, so there’s less competition. These auction sites offer some of the lowest prices and the best vehicles.
How to Buy a Car at an Online Auction
If you’ve never purchased a vehicle at an online auction, you only need to follow a few tips to remain safeguarded.
- Vet the site you are using. Not all sites are reliable, so you must use your discernment.
- If you are purchasing from a site that shows you the seller, do your research about this person or business as well.
- Inspect the vehicle as best you can. It’s not wise to purchase a car with one single picture and no information.
- Read through the guarantees offered by the site before placing a bid. If you can purchase additional protection, these plans might be worth looking at, depending on how much you are spending on the vehicle.
- Don’t get caught up in the excitement of online bidding. Set a clear budget and stick to it. Have someone with you that can hold you accountable if you have trouble sticking to the plan.
If you live near the car that’s being auctioned, you can always see if there’s an option to inspect it ahead of time. Some auction houses allow you to inspect vehicles during a pre-set time before the auction begins.
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Additionally, don’t forget that you will be responsible for either picking up or transporting the vehicle once it is purchased. If it is located near you, this wouldn’t be an issue, but it’s something to work out ahead of time. Each online platform offers a varying time for pickup, so you must figure this out before you start bidding. You can also ask the auction house for help with transportation if that’s something the company offers.