Public Auto Auctions

Q: I am interested in buying a car from an auto auction. What things should I look for when I inspect the car?

A: Auto auctions commonly have an inspection period before the auction takes place. Write down the vehicle identification number (VIN) and run a report about the vehicle’s history using a company like CARFAX. CARFAX will give you a detailed report about whether the vehicle has had serious problems such as being flooded or if it was previously totaled. Reports can also identify the vehicle’s previous use (e.g., if it was used commercially) and its emission inspection records. You should also look for things such as leaking oil, holes in the exhaust, cracked CV boots, or mismatched paint. Use the inspection time to your advantage to check over the vehicle thoroughly. Don’t bid more than the car is worth. Have access to a price guide such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds to help you determine a fair market value.