Looking for an Online Car Auction? The 5 Best Websites to Buy a Car

May 2, 2020

When you buy a car from a formal auction, they can go for anywhere between $3,000 to over $10,000. Of course, the junkers will be priced on the lower end, but you can still pick up some pretty decent vehicles from auctions.

Because of this, you might be considering this option rather than purchasing directly from a seller or dealership. This makes it a great choice whether you’re buying for personal uses or to stock your own used car dealership.

Are you interested in learning more? In this article, we’ll discuss what happens at an online car auction and 5 of the best car auction websites you can use.

What Types of Online Car Auctions Are There?

You might think that all car auctions are the same, but there are actually several types available.

For example, there are salvage car auctions. These are vehicles that are badly damaged that insurance companies deem as a “total loss.”

For dealerships that can’t clear out their inventory, they’ll send their cars to auctions for quick money. As a result, you can get fantastic deals on brand new vehicles. You can definitely benefit from this type of auction, whether you want the cars for yourself or your dealership. 

There also auctions that sell cars that are repossessed by the bank. Many of these are in excellent condition, which can also be ideal if you’re purchasing for a used car dealership.

In addition, rental car companies will sell their vehicles to auctions when they’ve reached a certain number in mileage. Because these cars are very well maintained, these can also be great steals.

What Happens at an Online Car Auction?

Using an online car auction is very similar to going to an in-person auction. However, the process is much easier since you don’t have to go anywhere and can search from the comfort of your own home or office.

When you log onto an online car auction site, you’ll see a menu and search bar. You can use either one to put in the specifics of the vehicles you’re looking for. For example, if you want a 2000 Honda Accord, just type it into the search bar, hit “enter,” and it’ll generate all the relevant results for you.

If you don’t know exactly what you want to buy, that’s ok too. You can just click on the menu to go to the general listing page. On this page, you’ll find categories such as Classics, Hot Items, Hybrids, and more.

Once you find a car you’re interested in, you can see the current bid on it and determine whether or not you want to pursue a bid of your own. You can then put in your maximum bid and the website will automatically bid for you, which means you don’t have to sit around and wait for an auction to run its course. At the end, you’ll be notified if you’ve won or not.

If you have, then you’ll need to pay for your purchase. To avoid fraud, many online auctions use escrow services. This third party holds your money and then releases it to the seller once you’ve received the vehicle.

The Top 5 Best Car Auction Sites

Perhaps you’re in the market to purchase a large number of cars and have them shipped to your dealership. Or maybe you just want one or two vehicles for your household.

Either way, you need to know which are the best online auction sites so you can get the best prices and the highest quality services. Here are the top 5 best car auction sites according to us.

1. Copart

If you’re looking for non-repairable, clean title, and salvage cars, then Copart is the online auction site you should use. Vehicles offered on this site include cars, trucks, classic cars, motorcycles, industrial vehicles, and even more.

Copart was first founded in 1982 and sells over 2 million vehicles a year, which means they’re definitely a reputable site that will deliver on what you want. They have over 200 locations in the United States, and have a presence in 11 countries total. This means in addition to online auctions, they also do in-person ones.

Their properties span over 8,000 acres and they have over 135,000 cars in their inventory. Copart claims they’re the biggest car auction company in the country, and they’re probably right about that.

What’s great is they don’t require minimum bids or reserves, which means you only have to bid what you’re comfortable with. In addition, they have a mobile app that enables you to put in bids no matter where you are. Another great thing you’ll get is the pre-bidding feature, which means you won’t have to sit around and wait for the auction to start to place a bid; you can do it beforehand.

Do note that in order to participate in Copart’s auctions, you must have a full dealer’s license.

2. ACV Auctions

For free online car auction sites, you’ll want to check out ACV Auctions. This company uses industry-leading condition reports, which means you’ll get full transparency about the vehicles you’re looking at.

This company’s auctions are just 20 minutes long and give you access to thousands of dealers. 

We mentioned before that a disadvantage of online car auctions is that you can’t inspect the vehicle in person. ACV Auctions understands this caveat, which is why they’ve developed the Audio Motor Profile (AMP). With this feature, it allows you to listen to high-def audio recordings of the cars’ engines so you know exactly what you’re getting.

In addition, they have Virtual Lift, which gives you high-def pictures of car undercarriages. Combined with AMP, you’ll have full confidence that you won’t get any surprises when you receive your vehicle.

What’s great about ACV Auctions’s app is that it gives you a seamless title transfer process. In addition, they offer extended buyer assurance; you get 10-day arbitration protection free of charge. If you want 20 or 30 days, you can pay a little extra for that.

Sign up is free for ACV Auction and buy fees are low as well. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that they have secure transactions too.

3. IAAI

IAAI is an online car auction run by Insurance Auto Auctions. They were first founded in 1982, which means they have an extensive history auctioning cars.

This is another site that sells salvage vehicles and as the name suggests, they do insurance auctions too. Other cars they offer include total-loss, fleet lease, recovered-theft, and dealer trade-in.

When you use this auction site, you have several options available. They are:

  • IAA Online (online auction with over 190 branches and live auctioneers)
  • IAA Timed Auctions (individual auctions for vehicles)
  • IAA Buy Now (purchase a vehicle immediately)
  • IAA Online Exclusive (series of auctions on specific types of cars, such as RVs)
  • IAA Screen Sale (bid on a screen at an IAA branch)

A plus of getting your vehicles through IAAI is they offer many payment options, which makes purchasing easier on you. 

If you don’t have a dealer’s license, you can still bid on IAAI. However, you will have to pay an annual fee of $200. In addition, you can only bid on the auctions that are available to the public, which means you can miss out on some premium vehicles that are only available to licensed dealers.

4. Auto Auction Mall

Auto Auction Mall is a dealer-only auction site that allows people without dealer’s licenses to bid on vehicles. It’s a complete treasure trove; this online auction site has a large selection of salvage vehicles, as well as used and pre-owned cars. At any given time, they have over 200,000 live auctions going on.

This company lists their auctions at wholesale prices, which means you can save a significant amount of money when you bid here. You do have to make a security deposit of 10% though.

Do note that while membership is free, you’ll have to pay a fee of $299 after winning a car. This is because they’ve allowed you access to dealer-only auctions.

What makes Auto Auction Mall unique is they offer financing options so you can purchase the vehicles you want and need. For example, some of the offers they have include no down payments and super-low interest rates. You can even pre-qualify for financing without your credit score taking a hit.

If you ever need any help during the bidding process, then you’ll be pleased to know that Auto Auction Mall offers a customer support team that’ll assist you through the whole thing.

5. AutoBidMaster

AutoBidMaster is actually a registered Copart broker, which means when you get a membership with AutoBidMaster, you’ll get access to Copart’s inventory. Registration with this auction site is free, so there’s nothing to lose by doing so.

Like with many of the other online auction websites, AutoBidMaster offers repairable salvage vehicles as well as used at very affordable prices. You’ll get access to their inventory without the need for a dealer’s license. They have over 162,000 cars available for you to buy.

This company is dedicated to refreshing their stock both daily and weekly, so whenever you log on, you’ll probably find new vehicles. They even get some motorcycles and quad bikes in at times, so you never know what you’ll find!

Tips on Online Car Buying

You have the luxury of bidding on cars from the comfort of your home, so take advantage of that. When you set your sights on a particular car, do some online research about it.

For example, how much do repairs usually cost for this make and model? How long is its usual lifespan? What are some key issues owners have and are there affordable/easy ways to get around them?

Your research should also include finding out what the Kelly Blue Book prices are for the cars you’d like. That way, you can set reasonable bids and know that you’re not paying an absurd amount for them.

When going through the lists of cars available, make sure to take note of both the age of the car and the mileage. Obviously, the newer the car and the less mileage it has, the better.

In general, it should accumulate about 13,000 miles per year. If a relatively new vehicle already has 100,000 miles on it, then that may be a red flag.

At in-person auctions, you have the option of personally inspecting the vehicles and even bringing a mechanic with you to have a second pair of expert eyes. The downside to online car buying is you can’t see the car for yourself, which means you’ll have to be very thorough in inspecting the vehicle page. 

Get the Best Online Car Auction Experience Possible

Now that you have more information on how an online car auction goes and what the best online car sales auction sites are, you’ll have a better time when you’re in the market for a new vehicle. Whether you’re just looking for a car to use yourself or you’re stocking up for your used car dealership, you’ll have the proper knowledge to get the best cars around at the most affordable prices too.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the auto industry, which means there’s no better time than now to get the best prices on used cars. Not only that, but it’s also much cheaper and easier to ship your vehicles too. So take advantage of this situation and purchase the cars you need.

Do you need your new car shipped out to your home or dealership? Then request a quote from us now. We’ll send you a quote within seconds.