Car Auctions sites

Does any know good sources for Car Auctions? I am looking to buy a slightly used car. I want to look what are my options via car auctions. I googled it and there are so many links not sure which is good one.

I assume every one is looking “the best” pay as little for best car they can get! or for seller get as much as you can for a junk!

I am looking at more volume with reasonable choices. I am NOT looking online ONLY option. I am looking where I can go and check/look car before bidding on it. Any suggestions esp. if you have used any car auction. I am in Tennessee so any thing within 250 miles radius/day drive (like Atlanta) should be fine.

Make it simple , if you see something you like contact the selling site and ask them your questions . Places like Carvana and Carmax have a 7 day return policy . What is wrong with finding some thing close to you that you can see ? Or are you looking for a collectable ?

Carvana and CarMax also buy from auctions. Question is why can’t I buy from same auction esp. if they are located near me.

Q. Which auction site to choose?

Some auctions are for dealers only , some also have individual sales. Only the auction will tell you that. Why do you want an auction vehicle anyway . No warranty , no financing and it may not be as good as you want because if it was it would be on a dealers lot. Also you said slightly used , if it was really good why it it in an auction this soon ?


Most leased car (typically 3 years) once returned are sold at auctions. Let say I want to buy M.Benz and most used MB at my local dealership are bought at auctions.

If a dealer can buy at auction than why can’t I bid on same car (providing it open or pubic auction)?

You had me until the “slightly used” part. There are many auctions which allow the general public to enter and bid on their vehicles, but those mostly deal with older models. The auctions which sell the nearly-new vehicles are mostly dealer-only. And of course, in many states you need a dealer license or other type of business license to purchase salvage vehicles from an insurance auction.

What is your confusion about ? If it is a Public auction then you can bid on anything you want , if dealer only then you can’t .

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Manheim auctions are where the dealers seem to check first for those cars, dealers also use what cars are going for on there to value your trade in. The do have public sales but there’s nothing in that part of the country at this time.

ok thanks I got it now. Auto Auctions has 2 lanes, dealers only (slightly used or lease return vehicles) or Public auction (every thing else).

I thought I could buy slightly used Vehicle from these public auctions which does seems unlikely or will take too much time and energy. Thanks for your replies!

In Maryland, dealer only auctions are vehicles that can’t be licensed without significant work. Even then, the open auctions can need work, but are safe to drive off the lot. A former boss bought several cars this way. At the auction he went to, you had to make a significant, refundable deposit at the door to keep the crooks out. At the place I’m thinking about, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in play on auction day. At the time he was in the market, it was cash only. Make sure you know the rules before you go to one. There might be auctions in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville too. You can sit in the cars,look them over closely, and listen to them run, but you can’t drive them.

I really don’t think buying an auction vehicle is for someone who has limited vehicle mechanical knowledge . Especially if they are looking for a used European luxury vehicle that can sink a checking account in minutes for repairs after they bought it.


My boss didn’t have much mechanical knowledge, and never fixed his own cars. He was conservative when reviewing the cars at auction, and showed up when the gates opened to look the cars over. There is a several hour review period so that people can decide what cars they want to bid on.

Pubic Auctions are not for the faint of heart, those with limited knowledge or limited means.

As noted, Off Lease and the Best cars go to Dealer Only auctions, leaving the Repos, High Mileage and problem cars for the Public.
That’s not to say that you can’t find a good deal at a Public auction but it will probably be an older, low demand, high mileage and needing some cosmetic repair vehicle so you’re taking your chances.
i.e. A 5+ year old one owner Buick or Oldsmobile sedan with lots of parking lot rash would probably be a better bet than any SUV/Pickup/Luxury/Sports vehicle that can be easily sold by a used car lot.

The next consideration is the type of auction. Some like Mannheim are mostly commercial auctions so they tend to get the better vehicles, provide more pre-auction information and generally have less risk.

Others will will literally take anything that can be dragged to the line so you’ve really got to know what you’re doing. Again, you can occasionally find some good deals but again stay away from the above categories which are usually bought to be shipped to the Third World where repair costs and standards are much lower.

My suggestion is that if you’re not experienced and going the auction route, that you find someone you trust with a Dealers license to do the bidding for you on a commission basis. It’ll cost you some money and it’s still not risk free but it’s an easy sale for them and increases your chance of avoiding a turkey.

Another reason not to do this is that you can’t take the car to your mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. Most of us here strongly recommend that.


At auction that allo the public, people without much auction experience overpay for cars. If you are not capable of doing your own repairs you will likely wind up spending more money and getting a worse car than if you bought it at a private party sale. I have bought 2 cars at zeized vechicle auctions, but they were models I was very familiar with and I am capable of most repairs. I cannot rebuild an transmission or rear end and at my age would not attempt an engine rebuild, but would have no problem swapping them and our junkyards are full of cars with good mechanicals but done in by rust.


That might be how your local dealership does it, but around here at least, the better off-lease vehicles are sold by the used car department. A dealership will keep the best off-lease cars for themselves to sell, and send the rejects down to the auction. As @Beancounter said, the “good” rejects will end up on some other used car lot somewhere, while the problem children will be the ones you’re able to bid on.

Of the kinds of auction cars that you can bid on, the best bet is the high mileage cars, followed by the repo cars, but only if you can get a really good look at them. Some people know the repossession is coming and they take their frustration out on the car. Others know it’s coming and, while they don’t intentionally damage the car, they do neglect maintenance. Why bother paying for an oil change on a car you know is gonna be snatched away any day now? So you need to go over the repo cars carefully to be sure they haven’t been damaged or neglected.

A slightly used non-repo car at an auction is almost certainly there because something bad happened to it that the dealership didn’t want to mess with. That could include things like cars that have been through a flood, or lemon-law buyback cars, or just a car that someone trashed because they’re a world-class slob. Any of those problems will be exclusively your problem if you buy the car. That’s why it’d be easier and less risky to just buy an off-lease car straight from the dealership. You’ll still save a lot of money vs. new, and it’ll probably have at least some warranty left on it.

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Same around here. In fact MOST used cars sold at dealers are from OFF-LEASE. They are usually lower mileage vehicles.

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Years ago I bought a year old Volvo wagon, from a Volvo dealer. It had been a Hertz rental. The dealer told me (so you decide on the BS level) that the Hertz cars came back to a central yard for assessment after their time was up and Volvo itself decided which to “certify” for resale through the dealership network, the Volvo dealers bid on them and took them; the Volvo dealers could also bid on the others to resell not certified, and the rest went to auction to anyone who was a licensed used car dealer. What didn’t sell at dealer auction went to public auction. It made some sense to me, so I believed it then and I still believe some system like that must exist now. Auctions that sell “low mileage returned lease” cars and trucks to the public seem likely to be selling the bottom of the market. That might be fine if the problem is cosmetic or simply higher than typical mileage, but buyer beware.

Do a Google search for “car auctions (your city or nearby city here)”. Also, most government entities auction off their used vehicles. All sales are “as is” and caveat emptor.

My biggest issue, would be you cannot take it for a test drive or a mechanic for an independent inspection in the auction sites near me.