In light of the recent pandemic, finding cheap cars has become harder than ever. Luckily, there are ways to find cheap vehicles for a fraction of what you would pay at a dealership. Car auctions can be a great way to find a vehicle at a reduced price, but they can be intimidating if you don’t know how they work. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

Continue reading to learn more about salvage auto auctions, how they work, and which auto auction sites can offer you the best bang for your buck.

What Are Online Auction Sites and How Do They Work?

While some larger businesses may host their own auction sites, most online auctions are virtual marketplaces that allow multiple businesses to list and sell their items to the highest bidder. Sites like eBay and Amazon have used the online auction format for years.

Car auction sites like Copart, IAAI, Barrett Jackson, and Direct Auto follow the same basic idea as other auction sites. They allow bidders to browse through a large inventory of cars, ranging from exotic or classic cars to auto salvage vehicles, motorcycles, trucks, SUVs, RVs, and even boats. Buyers can place bids on an item they’re interested in during these auction periods with a click of a button.

However, not all auction sites work the same. Some are only open to car dealers, while others are registered brokers and can allow individuals to bid on and purchase vehicles without a dealer’s license. Additionally, depending on the auction site, vehicles may be titled differently. For example, some sites sell a variety of clean, salvage, and repairable cars, while others deal specifically with salvaged vehicles. 

What Are Salvage Vehicles?

A vehicle will become salvage if it’s involved in an accident and the insurance company deems the cost of repairs to be higher than the market value. If a car has a salvage title, it could mean that it was in an accident, suffered from fire or flood damage, or was stolen or stripped for parts.

But don’t let this discourage you! Not all salvaged vehicles are a total loss. Even though the insurance company has deemed the repairs higher than the market value, you can often repair the vehicle for much less than what the repair shop quoted.

For example, labor is usually one of the most expensive aspects of a repair quote. Some mechanics charge anywhere from $75 to $150 an hour. Oftentimes, the price to fix a vehicle consists mostly of labor charge, but you could make the repairs yourself for much less than the estimated repair price.

Benefits of Buying a Salvage Vehicle

You might be under the impression that salvage vehicles are junk cars, but that’s not always true. In fact, there are several benefits to buying a salvage vehicle.

  1. They are inexpensive. Auto auctions allow you to browse a large inventory of vehicles and find whatever you’re looking for at a fraction of what you would pay at a dealership.
  2. You can find classic cars. Car auctions are full of old and classic cars. Some auction sites even specialize in older vehicles. Since most classic car owners know what they have and charge a premium when they sell their vehicles, this could be a great way to acquire a piece of history for a fraction of the cost. 
  3. It can be an excellent project for you or your family. Do you like getting your hands dirty? Are you looking for a project car to fix up with your kids? Or, maybe you just want to restore something to its natural beauty. Either way, a car auction site could help you find repairable vehicles for cheap.
  4. You own it outright. When you bid on and buy a car at an auction, you own it. You never have to worry about expensive monthly payments, and you avoid paying double the price in interest charges. 
  5. It can be a great way to find spare parts. Speaking of projects, are you already fixing up an older car but can’t seem to find the parts you need? A salvage vehicle may have all the necessary parts in one place.

Where Can I Buy Salvage Vehicles?

Vehicles become salvage-titled cars when an insurance company deems the cost of repairing the vehicle higher than its market value price. Instead of paying the owner the cost of repairs, the insurance company will pay the driver a portion of the vehicle’s market value. Typically, when this happens, the insurance company will take possession of the car and transfer the title to the buyer.

In order to recoup some of their money and get rid of the vehicle, the insurance company will often sell the salvaged cars at auction.

Most local car auctions are only accessible to people who have a dealer’s license. If you know a licensed dealer, you might be able to have them buy a vehicle for you. However, this could be tricky since it would involve multiple title transfers.

The best way to gain access to salvage vehicles is by visiting an online auction site. Many of these sites are registered brokers, and general consumers can access the auctions even if they don’t have a dealer’s license.

Depending on what the ride is that you’re looking for, you may not want to use the very first option you see, even if it’s an auto auction “near me.” So, to help you on your quest for your dream car, we’ve determined which auction websites can give you what you want and for the best price.

3 Famous Online Auto Auction Sites

When it comes to online auto auctions, the sites below are some of the best. Whether you’re looking for clean, salvage, or repairable vehicles, these sites are sure to have something for you!

A Better Bid

A Better Bid is an online car auction site that features over 200,000 vehicles daily. Because they’re registered Copart brokers, you don’t need a dealer’s license to shop their wide selection of clean, salvage, wrecked, and repairable vehicles. From San Diego to New York, this 100% online site allows you to attend and bid on live auctions from the comfort of your couch. Plus, any vehicle you buy is delivered directly to your door! 

Morton Auto Auction

Located in Central Illinois, Morton Auto Auction offers dealers and customers a wide selection of cars. Those who are unable to attend the live auctions can utilize the company’s simulcast auctions. They are a part of the XLerate Group, which offers 39 auction sites across 18 states. Although they do host online auctions, they’re only offering dealer-only auctions at this time.

USA Auto Online

USA Auto Online is an advertisement website with over 15 years of experience in buying, selling, and transporting vehicles throughout the United States. They have partnered with 170 auction houses in the USA and list up to 130,000 cars at any time. Because they have an American dealership license, they can offer vehicles to general consumers, meaning you won’t have to go through the process of obtaining a dealer’s license yourself. This gives you more time and money to invest in your vehicle. Additionally, they can provide transport assistance from their New Jersey warehouse, so you won’t have to drive to their location to pick up your sweet ride.

Wrapping Up

Auto auctions are a great way to find affordable vehicles that you might otherwise not have access to. Although some auctions are only open to dealers, many of the sites listed above are licensed brokers, meaning you can bid on vehicles even if you don’t have a dealer’s license.

Whether you live in Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, or anywhere else in the United States, if the thought of being able to browse through thousands of cheap vehicles without leaving your couch excites you, you should definitely check out the famous auction sites listed above!