Let’s not mince words: vehicles are big purchases. They’re the most valuable thing most Americans own outside of a house. In light of this, you’ve possibly considered buying a vehicle at auction.

It seems like a good idea on paper. Tons of vehicles are auctioned off all around the country, and with enough luck, you might get them for cheaper than you would at a dealership. And besides, don’t car dealerships sell vehicles they get at auction anyway? Why not cut out the middleman and pocket the extra money, right?

Well, I wish I could tell you that buying a vehicle at auction is a great money-saving tactic. Unfortunately, almost all experts agree that buying a vehicle at auction is incredibly risky for all but the most seasoned automotive enthusiasts. Let’s go over why.

First, while it is true that dealerships get some of their inventory from auctions, that’s only half the story. These vehicles come specifically from car dealer auctions, which require a state-distributed dealers license to attend. A layperson technically can get a dealers license if they want to buy and sell vehicles themselves, but I imagine that’s not quite what you had in mind to save money on a car.

Instead, you’d be attending a public auction that typically consists of vehicles that are otherwise unsellable. At a government auction, this could be vehicles like old police cars, buses, or impounded vehicles. Otherwise, you might be looking at repossessed vehicles or cars too damaged to put on a lot. Don’t get me wrong, some really nice cars can get featured. But if you go into an auction expecting a lineup of new and lightly used vehicles as a dealership does, you’ll almost certainly be disappointed.

Even with all of that out of the way, there are still a ton of risks to buying at an auction. First of all, you won’t be able to test drive anything you want before you bid on it. So if a vehicle has issues that a seller neglects to mention, then, well, that becomes your problem. Second, an auction is no guarantee that you’ll walk away paying a lower price. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you could be paying more than you would if you just bought a vehicle at a dealership. Auctions can get fiercely competitive, and if you’re outbidding the rest of the room, that could mean you’re paying more than what everyone else would consider an acceptable price.

Yes, it is possible to get a vehicle for less by going to an auction. But if you want to get a safe, reliable vehicle that you can thoroughly test and think about before buying, a dealership will be a better option for you. If you’re concerned about paying too much, then don’t worry; you aren’t alone. Give me a call or send me a message, and I’ll work as hard as I can to get you a vehicle that fits within your budget.