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ADESA Richmond car auction

I am thinking to buy a car at car auction.

I want to know about your experiences of it.

Are you an experienced mechanic and car appraiser? Cars sold at auction are there because the new car dealers don’t want them. You’ll have to be able to identify ones with true problems and avoid them.

…and if this auction is typical, your opportunity for examining the car is extremely limited, thus making it very difficult to find major mechanical problems.

It is possible to find a decent car at an auction, just like it is possible to find a virginal woman at a house of ill repute. However, your odds of finding either one are not very good.


Then I think the best advice is to stay away from auctions.

There are diamonds in the rough at car auctions, and there are many more lumps of coal in there too. If you have confidence in picking out the diamonds you have a leg up. If you have a good repair shop with reasonable rates you might find a car on the cheap but you’ll spend money on repairs to make it a good road worthy car.

Auction cars have high mileage, unrepaired body and interior damage, could be insurance write off’s due to flood damage, have mechanical problems with motor and/or transmission, or might just be dirty “smoker’s” cars, donated cars to charitable organizagtions.

If you find a decent looking car at an auction and buy it for $2,000; figure to spend another $3,000 on it to make it right. If you spend less you did good. If you spend more then you didn’t do so well. Knowing a particular model and the current values of cars can help you make better decisions. A decent car doesn’t end up at auction because it needs simple stuff like new tires, new brakes, and a good cleaning; there are deeper more expensive problems lurking.


What you spend is what you feel you can afford. The key is to not blow your budget on the car at the auction. You have to hold onto significant money for repairs and restoration.

My advice would be to have $2,000 to $3,000 available to make the car good for the road. You don’t have to spend it all at once. Sometimes you take care of the obvious stuff and drive the car for awhile to really find out what it needs next.

I have bought hunderds of cars at dealer auctions over the last 25 years. I average $300 per car for fixing what ails them. I have spent up to $3000 for an engine rebuild, but I bought that car cheap enough to still be OK. Since you don’t know cars, and the Adesa auction is probably a “dealer only” sale, I’m assuming that you will be going with someone. (State laws vary, so it may be just a public sale.) Hopefully that person will know how that particular auction is set up so that they can guide you to cars that a brought by new car dealers. Most new car stores will auction anything with over a certain number of miles. 60K seems to be the norm around here.

If you are bidding, remember that there is a rather high BUYER’S FEE tacked onto your bid. You will also have to pay some sales tax, and the friend who brought you inside. If your total budget is $2000, your bid will need to be in the $1500 range. Be careful.

The principle reason cars are brought auction is financing. A small dealer who bought a car from a new car store at that auction may have it financed through one of the companies that specializes in dealer’s “floor plans”. They can finance them for a certain period, usually 30, 45, 60 or 90 days. Then they either have to pay for the car, or take them back to the auction and hope to get their money back. That’s why you see a car at one dealer for a month, and then see it down the street for another month.

You also mentioned that a car with a mismatched fender or whatever wouldn’t bother you. That being the case, you might consider an insurance pool auction such as IAAI, TRA, or Copart. That’s where the insurance companies sell their “totals”. Any car over six or seven years old can be totalled just for a fender or door. Those cars were being driven and loved by their owners at the time of the accident. They are PROBABLY mechanically OK. The trick is to buy one that you have already located the right color parts on to fix it. Yes, it will have a salvage title, but what do you care? You’re going to drive it till it drops anyway. Beware of undercarriage, frame, or water damage. You don’t want those cars.

You can get a good acr at an auction. You can also get a pile of crap that was consigned because the dealer who owned it didn’t want to fix it or guarantee it in any way. You don’t know cars, so take an expert with you. Remember the auctioneer’s caveat, “If it falls in two going out the gate, you get both halves”.


What you will find at these “public” sales is outright junk or half-way decent cars with a ridiculous, hidden, minimum sale price attached to them. Many private owners think their cars are worth twice what they will bring at an open auction…Good Luck…

Sometimes, after the sale is over, you can negotiate with an owner whose car did not sell and he REALLY does not want to drive that car home again…


You need to understand how the auctions work first. In MD, auctions have 2 sets of cars. One is for anyone to bid on. They cannot have major defects and must be running. The public can bid on these. They are often off-lease cars or trade-ins that the dealer does not want for some reason. The other group is only for dealers. They can have major defects that prevent them from being registered immediately. If your area works like mine, you can find decent cars at auction. I know two people that found cars at the same auction. One has bought all his cars at this auction for the past 20 years. You should take someone who knows about cars with you to reduce the risk of buying a problem car. The auctioneers should let you look the cars over thoroughly and hear them run, but you almost certainly can’t drive them.


“On the side note, How much would a “decent” car cost? I mean automatic, 4 door, basic, sedan or HB Asian or American car.”

That’s too big a question to answer. You should pay no more than trade-in, and probably 10% to 20% below that. Get a list of cars at auction, including options and mileage, beforehand. Then use edmunds, KBB, and NADAGuides to determine the trade-in value. Check these cars out when you get to the auction and bid on them as you see fit. Just don’t go over trade-in value.

“Let say I DON’T know car and no one is coming with me.”

Have you been paying your pastor regularly? Then lets say good luck. You will probably pick a lemon.