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Old 02-20-2019, 11:33 AM
 
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Considering heading to a local auction. Interested in a couple Honda Elements up for bid. One being a 2003 with just 23,000 miles on it. Which is worth around $6,300 retail locally. They open for inspection the morning of the auction. Are you generally allowed to start the car, even plug in a code reader at those inspection periods?

Any tips for a total newbie? I'm sure the pros have a better pulse on what it's worth at auction. Figure if it goes for around $3k even if it has an engine/transmission issue it could still be a good buy.

Also, concerns about a car that old with such low mileage? Looks to be in good shape cosmetically.

Will of course pull the carfax before I go if I decide to go through with it.

This will strictly be for an around town grocery getter/dog hauler/spare car.
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Old 02-20-2019, 11:48 AM
 
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There are all sorts of ways to purchase a used car.
Public auction open to all is one way. Not very many around here.

I have been to the weekly dealers only auction as a driver. Not open to public. I never viewed so many sleezy looking people in one area in my life.
Large parking lot of cars, SUV's, trucks, etc. Keys in ignition. Lot's of junky cars. Some - the off lease cars appeared OK.

10 auction lines. Vehicle went quickly once auction started.

I viewed one domestic luxury car in excellent condition about 10 years old go for $750.00. I asked the dealer I went with why such a low price. We went out to view car. Lifted hood. No engine and no transmission.

This would be the last way in which I would purchase a used car. But others may find this fun.
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Old 02-20-2019, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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Typically you can start it, move it a few inches back and forth, code reader is not a problem if it does not involve taking anything apart.

Cars at auto auctions are usually the junk dealers did not want and cars with nasty defects that people do not want a buyer to come back after them for. A jar of bars leak will often temporarily hide a leaking head gasket. A red potion can hide torque converter shudder (but you would not see that anyway unless they let you drive it).

Do nto get excited and tell yourself it is probably just X or Y because you really want the car. If there is the appearance of a problem, the best bet is to assume the problem is the worst possible scenario it could be.


Other types of auctions are much better opportunities. Estate auctions, business asset auctions, to a lesser extent police auctions. Auctions at an auction house that normally sells other types of things - be certain you find out who put the car in the auction and why. If it does not sound valid, or they will not tell you, skip it.

Buying at an auction is very risky. The last time I did, I cut off my bid at 2/3 the market value of the truck. I figured with about $9,000 below market, I could replace the engine and/or transmission and still be within the realm of what it would cost normally. Picking up the truck was an anxious moment. Although I could put 7200 into it and still be at the market price, I id not have 47200 to put into it. If it was broken, I could not get a bigger loan to cover the cost of fixing it, I was simply sol. (I could eventually rebuild an engine or transmission myself over several months of weekends, but what would I drive until it was done? Not to mention I did not want to spend the entirety of my free time for six months rebuilding an engine or transmission. I had other things to do. Did I really mess up or get an amazing deal? I got lucky. It was in very good shape, although I do seem to have more small problems than normal but they started two years after I bought it. I think that may just be because it is a Dodge. Still it has been very worth it. I definitely have not spent the $9000 in price difference (a bit less than that because I did not consider the 10% auction fee - don't forget the auction fee. For me it was $1800, but they had a cap of $1500 so it was a little less of a nasty surprise. Still a great deal).

However if the car was in water, there is no price savings that is worth it. It is literally going to cost you more than its value even if it is free. Avoid salvage title and avoid anything that shows any sign of having been in water. Not all cars that have had serious damage will have a salvage title. This occurs only if there is insurance an the insurance company totaled out the car. Even then the salvage titles sometimes gets hidden or simply issued improperly. Also, slam the doors hard. If you hear glass rattling around inside, look at the roof carefully. Odds are very good the car has been rolled. I bought car at an caution long ago that has a leaky turbocharger. It was an integrated turbo and could not be replaced or repaired without pulling the whole engine apart. It was water cooled and coolant was leaking into the turbocharger and out the exhaust. When I test started it, it did not leak because someone had put eggs in the coolant. It kept getting worse. I could not drive it more than about two miles without filling up the radiator again. Finally in desperation I put about five tube of bars leak int he radiator. I figured if I gummed up the whole engine, well I either had to junk the car ro rebuild/replace the engine anyway. it worked. I drove the car for two and a half years and then when it started leaking again, I traded it in for more than the purchase price. I told the dealer about the leak and they said they did not care. they would just send the car to an auction anyway.

This taught me to be a lot more cautious. I have looked at many cars at those auto auctions. Pretty much all of then were cars which on careful inspection, should not be sold to anyone. I gave up entirely on auto auctions, but other auctions can still result in a great deal (but at great risk).
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Old 02-20-2019, 12:43 PM
 
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Yeah the source for this auction isn't just dealers. Impounds and the like.

"Our items are sold on behalf of many Government Agencies (Cities, Counties, Transportation Districts, etc.), local and statewide contractors, trucking and hauling companies, automobile dealerships, and many more!"

The fee is $1.00 to $1500.00 = 15% Buyers Premium
$1501.00 and Over = 10% Buyers Premium.

I think I would be targeting half its value as my max bid. So around a $3-4k cap. Which on the market would get me one with around 230,000 miles on it(and they have a rep of going 400+).

Last edited by notnamed; 02-20-2019 at 01:02 PM..
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:49 PM
 
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Be CAEREFUL trying to move car with engine running. As you do not KNOW if there were any brakes. Cold gave you about best advice. In nutshell, it is - you buying a trouble. Public auctions open to public are rejects that no one else wants.

Also, watch your gestures. Don't nod your head, wave hand, etc. Or, auctioneer WILL consider it a bidding sign and then YOU are in trouble,
I say, find someone with dealer license and access to dealer auction and buy from there. Dealers usually take $200 for service like this.
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Old 02-20-2019, 02:06 PM
 
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So you guys may just be cutting my max bid down to the $2k range. If it goes sideways can just chalk it up as a life experience and scrap it for parts or just put it right back in the auction. Or just go there and watch the spectacle and leave.

Edit: and it seems the internet pre-bidding(auction opens Friday) is about to eclipse that amount already.
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Old 02-20-2019, 02:59 PM
 
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So Carfax does show consistent maintenance was done on it at the dealer. But there was an odometer rollback. Went from 184k to 15k. So actually a 200+ car. Only note on the service where that flipped was "automatic transmission serviced". No accidents reported. Has been passing emission inspections. It's a one owner vehicle.

It was in another auction last week where it failed to sell for $800(reserve not met). But it was listed as being driveable in that auction.

Also found an old listing on a dealer's website, so they tried to sell it before sending it off to auction.
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Old 02-20-2019, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Lee County, NC
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I'm very surprised a dealer tried to sell it if it had an odometer rollback, usually those go straight to the auction along with the salvage/rebuilt titles.
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Old 02-21-2019, 05:15 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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The pre-bidding is sometimes appears to be fake. You then go to the auction and they start the bidding at the pre-bid amount then suddenly say the bid was withdrawn and the bidding drops down and down. This happens on a couple of cars. I think it is way to get you excited. Hey if someone was willing to big $4000 on it before, then it must be worth at least $3000. Or the car shows up at the next auction after having a high "pre-bid"

This happened to me with a Chrysler Masarati I really wanted to be a good car and a good deal. I was leary about it because it had no oil pressure. I asked about that and they said they thought it was a bad sensor. I looked at it a couple of times, and tried to figure out the oil pressure issue. At the auction it had a high "pre-bid" on it. Then suddenly the pre-bid dropped and they offered it for $1000 less but said it still had a pre-bid at that lower number. When I did not bid, they said it sold for the lower pre-bid number. The next week it was in the auction again. The bidding started at just below the purported pre-bid number. By now I was suspicious and I did not bid. Next week it was there again. They first tried to auction it off at a higher price, but then asked for any offers. I bid a low number and they said it had a reserve at the number they had previously claimed was a pre-bid. I went to talk with them after the auction to see if I could make take a deal and they told me I could just buy it for the reserve price any time I wanted. I did not have to wait for an auction.

I later learned that car had a problem with oil pump failures.

I went to the next auction to bid on a Supra I started looking at instead. The Chrysler Maserati was still there, bidding started at above the reserve price. The Supra supposedly has a pre-bid on it. Then they started asking for bids for just below the "pre-bid" price. I never went back.
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Old 02-21-2019, 05:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
I went to the next auction to bid on a Supra I started looking at instead. The Chrysler Maserati was still there, bidding started at above the reserve price. The Supra supposedly has a pre-bid on it. Then they started asking for bids for just below the "pre-bid" price. I never went back.
An excellent story on how some of these supposed "auctions" can be manipulated, cheated, false, fake, and not real auctions.

We assume that everyone and anyone selling a used car is honest. Right?
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