Seven Steps to Profit
The Smart Way To Buy A Car At Government Auctions

  We all would like to make the best deal possible when we buy a vehicle at auctions. The following examples of how to buy a vehicle at auctions describes the techniques I have used to buy , and sell vehicles for a profit. This may not work for every one but it has been very profitable for me.

  • Step One: Finding The Right Auction To Work With

       The first thing to do is find several Auto Auctions in the area you would like to work. The U.S. Government contracts with auto auctions to hold Government Auctions at these, and other locations. Contact the auctions and ask if they hold Government Auctions. If they do , find out Dates, Times, Locations, and if a list of the inventory is available. U.S. Government Auctions issue a certificate of ownership you can register in any state. If you buy a car in Texas and your home state is New Mexico you will not have a problem registering the car in your home state.

  • Step Two: Checking the Inventory

      Most Auto Auctions have a web page, or an Auction Service like "THE GOVERNMENT AUCTION NEWS DIGEST" that will list the Dates, Times, locations, and Inventories of the auction. Some sites have easy to use search engines that make it easy to find what you are looking for. This type of inventory list will vary with different auctions. Some have more information, some less. I work five auctions in my area. As soon as an auction announcement is received at the Digest the first thing I do is check the inventory list for a vehicle I can buy and resale for a profit.

  • Step Three: What Vehicles are Best For Resale

      I follow several information guides to select the vehicles I will bid on. Consumer Reports Online is an excellent source to use. They not only tell you what vehicles you should buy, but also what vehicles to avoid. Finding a reliable vehicle is important, because anything that you have to repair will cut into your money earning potential. Another good source for finding out information about used cars is the Microsoft CarPoint website.

  • Step Four: Knowing How Much to Bid

      What we need to know is how much the car in question is worth today. How much should we bid on it, and how much we can sell it for in our city. In my mind there is only one place to go to find reliable information. That is the Kelley Blue Book On-Line. The number you want to pay the most attention to is the TRADE-IN VALUE. Another way to check the going price of a certain car is to see what similar vehicles are selling for in your area. Thankfully, the internet makes this fairly easy. Used car dealers like carmax are only a quick search away. This gives you a rough idea of what the value of the vehicle is.

  • Step Five: Finding the Suggested Retail value

      This is where the Kelly Blue Book website really comes in handy. Their "What is my car worth" page will give you a good estimation of the blue book value of a particular car. Of course, market forces being what they are, a car is worth whatever you can sell it for.


      All auctions have an Inspection or Preview time before the auction starts. The time can be as much as eight hours the day prior to the auction, or as short as an hour or two right before the auction begins. What ever the time use it wisely. Never bid on a vehicle with out inspecting it first. If you are mechanically challenged, bring a friend who knows how to check for problems. Do a visual Inspection. Look for waves in the sheet metal. Bring a small magnet as it will not stick where body damage has been repaired. Check all the knobs, and switches, make sure everything works. I rushed through an inspection last year. I bid on the car and picked it up at my price. When I returned home I found the two power back windows would not go down, and the horn did not work. I spent a day running down the short in the horn. The two back windows cost me a good bit to replace the motors, and switches. Always Inspect before you bid.
      Most auctioneers will announce any known defects when the vehicle comes up for bids. The important word is "known," because not all problems are known. Almost all auctions sell "As is" "Where is."

  • Step Six: Selling the Vehicle

      The internet has made it easier to sell vehicles. Rather than having to use physical advertising, you can now advertise in cyberspace. There are a variety of options available:

    • Online classifieds such as, or's For Sale Cars+Trucks section
    • Classified ads in newspapers
    • Bulletin boards in public places. Colleges and supermarkets for instance.
    • The time honored technique of putting a "FOR SALE" sign on your car with a phone number
    • Parking your car in a high traffic spot combined with the "FOR SALE" sign
    • Never underestimate word of mouth advertising

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