online auto auctionOnline auto auctions have made it easy for people all over the world to find and bid on cars. Many of these
auto salvage auctions sell a variety of cars, from classics to exotics and everyday vehicles, such as motorcycles, trucks, RVs, and more. They also offer variety of car titles ranging from clean to salvage. Even cars that would normally be reserved for dealers can  be purchased directly by people who do not have a dealer’s license. But trying to navigate your way around the world of car auctions can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, we are here to help!

Continue reading to learn more about car auctions, how they work, and what you need to do to start bidding on cars today.

What are Online Auto Auctions?

Online auctions are similar to physical auctions, with the biggest difference being that you can attend online auctions without ever leaving your home.

Car auction sites create vehicle listings that buyers can browse through before the auction begins. Listings will often include sale information such as date and time, starting bid, and location of the vehicle. Additionally, it will include information about the vehicle such as mileage, title type, color, damage, as well as other important information and pictures of the vehicle from various angles. 

Some sites use a condition grading scale, which tells bidders more about the condition of the vehicle. For example, it might explain if the vehicle is in repairable or running condition, or if it’s being sold for parts only.

In addition to the provided vehicle information, some online auction sites will allow potential bidders to inquire more about the vehicle through messages. You might find it interesting that physical auctions can sometimes be joined remotely through the use of on-site representatives, who can assess the condition of the vehicle for you.

Types of Auto Auctions

It’s important to understand the different types of auto auctions out there as it determines what type of vehicles they sell.

    • Government Auctions: Government auctions are held to auction off government property or property that was seized by the government. For example, the auction may be selling used police vehicles after new ones were purchased, or it may be selling vehicles that were seized as assets from people charged with tax evasion.
  • Public Auctions: Public auctions are exactly what the name suggests, auctions that are open to the public and are selling items for the public. They’re typically local auctions that allow anyone to enter items into the event. In addition to local auctions, there are many online auctions that are available to the general public. These auctions are typically held by registered auction brokers, who allow the general public to bid on vehicles by paying the brokers a small fee to use their services. People can browse through and bid on a variety of vehicles, including clean title, repairable, and salvage vehicles.  A car is deemed salvage when it has suffered fire or flood damage, has been stolen, has been in some type of accident or other unfortunate event. If the insurance company deems the cost of repair to be higher than the vehicle’s market value, the car will be deemed salvage. Insurance companies often take possession of these vehicles and sell them at auction.
  • Dealer Auctions: Most car auctions are dealer only auctions. These are sites like Copart and IAAI, where the majority of their inventory is only accessible to those who have a dealer’s license. They often include wholesale and repairable cars, repossessed vehicles, and tons of other vehicles. They also have a wide range of clean title, salvage title, and parts only vehicles.

How Can I Bid on Salvage Cars Online?

Many online auction sites, such as Copart, IAAI, SCA, Mecum and Direct Auto, list salvage, clean, repairable and parts only vehicles. Their inventory comes from a variety of places such as insurance and rental companies, bank repossessed vehicles, dealerships and more.

Although each site runs differently and has its own set of rules regarding how and when you can bid, most sites will first require you to register. During registration, you may need to provide a photo ID and personal information such as full name, address, and phone number. Additionally, most sites will require that you place a deposit which determines the amount that you can bid. Once you have completed all of the steps in the registration process, you’ll be able to browse through the inventory and begin bidding on vehicles of your choice. You will notice that different sites have different bidding options such as preliminary bidding, which allows you to place your bid before the vehicle is at the live auction, and live bidding, which takes place during the scheduled time when the vehicle is auctioned off live. 

Where Can I Buy Clean, Salvage & Repairable Cars?

There are a few places where you can find clean, salvage and repairable cars for sale.

First, you may be able to find a local salvage car yard. Some yards will buy salvage and junk cars and allow people to pull parts from them for a fee. Occasionally they’ll have used vehicles that are repairable and running, which you can purchase.

In addition to local car yards, you may find owners directly selling their vehicles on websites such as Craigslist, eBay and OfferUp. All vehicles with a salvage branding can be fully repaired  and legally driven again. The rules around rebuilding salvage vehicles vary by state, but in most states you will need to conduct full repairs of the vehicle in order to apply for a rebuilt title which is what legally allows you to insure, register, and operate the vehicle. 

Finally, the best place to look for used repairable vehicles is online auto auctions. Not only is this the most convenient way to look for a vehicle, you will have access to hundreds of thousands of different vehicles to choose from, and most online auctions offer delivery, so you can get them delivered right to your door!

Best Auto Auctions to Bid on and Buy Cars Onlineonline auto auction

If you decide to shop for a vehicle at an online auction, you’ll want to know the best places to check out. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best auto auction sites on the web!

1. A Better Bid

A Better Bid is a 100% online auction that offers over 300,000 clean, salvage, wrecked, and repairable vehicles each week. Because they are a registered Copart broker, you can bid on vehicles that would normally only be available to dealers. With over 190 locations to choose from, such as Houston, Kansas, Las Vegas, and New York, you can be sure to find the right vehicle for you. The best part? You can attend these auctions from the comfort of your own home and have the vehicle delivered right to your driveway!

2. Richmond Auto Auction

Richmond’s Auto Auction is located in Richmond, Virginia, and features over 400 vehicles each week. Auctions are held on Friday mornings, are open to all buyers, and you have the option of in-person and online bidding. They also have dealer-only auctions available. As an award-winning auction, this family-run business prides itself on customer service and creating relationships that last for years to come.

3. Backs Auto Auction Inc

Located in central Kentucky, Backs Auto Auction has been serving the Bluegrass area for over 40 years. They offer both online and in-person auction events and even have a “buy now” option on their website. Although they do allow people to bid online, their auctions are currently limited to dealer only events.


Founded in 1989, ADESA has been providing buyers and sellers with a better auction experience for over 30 years! Today, they offer a variety of vehicles and buyer/seller tools both online and in one of their 75 locations across North America like Chicago, New Jersey, Orlando and Sacramento. In order to attend their auction events, you’ll have to register as a licensed dealer or know someone who is, so they can represent you.

Wrapping Up

Online auctions have changed the way people find cheap vehicles. If you’re looking for a car, truck, SUV, RV, or boat, you’re sure to find something that fits your budget on the sites listed above. Whether you live in Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, or anywhere in between, simply follow the site’s registration process, upload any identifying documents, and start looking for your dream car today!


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