Online Auto Auctions Open to the Public in California
While visiting a car auction in California can be a lot of fun (especially for first timers from what we have seen), there are also a few options to buy a used car online in California through an online used car auction open to the public.
Most are open to the public, but some may be for dealers only which would require a dealer’s license (aka “auction license”). Online car auctions for public bidders in Cali offer decent used cars.
Online auctions in California tend to feature the same inventories that they offer to their in-person bidders that come to their auctions. These vehicles often are bank repos, car dealer trade-ins, private for-sale-by-owner cars, police impounds at police car auctions and government fleet surplus cars, and also abandoned tow vehicles.
These are free public car auction sites with online auto auctions that allow public bidders that we can recommend. Car auctions online operate very similar to wholesale car auctions, but may feature both live auctions and auctions that occur over a period of time — such as a week or a month.
They will almost always make the VIN (vehicle identification number) known before you place a bid on the car. This number is important for you as it will allow you to research the history of the car online before you buy it.
This allows you to know if the vehicle has ever been wrecked and also how many owners it has had and in which states it was registered.
For instance, we suggest that you may want to avoid cars from northern states that salt their roads in the winter as this can accelerate wear on a car’s frame and also promote rusting.
Southern California Online Auction (Open to the Public) – Auctions are on Saturdays and Sundays
Otay Auto Auction – Online Auction (Open to the Public) – Auctions are on Saturdays but you may view the vehicles for sale on Fridays
Brownfield Auto Auction – Online Auctions (Open to the Public) – Locations in San Diego, Stockton, and Oakland
eBay Motors – You can enter your zip code into their search form to find cars for sale near you. eBay tends to be more expensive than the cars you see at dedicated public auto auctions, but are worth a try if you are looking for a specific car or truck that is hard to find used elsewhere. We also find it useful in particular for finding classic cars and certain rare cars at auction.
Do not live in California? You can always hire one of the best car shipping companies in California from our guide. They will transport your auction vehicle cross country or overseas.
Tips for Bidding in an Online Car Auction & Repo Car Auctions Open to the Public
Research the cars you are interested in bidding on
This is very important. Most locations will give you plenty of photos of the auction cars for sale and also provide a VIN number.
Use this to find out more about the car’s history online. Pay close attention to details in all of the photos provided, looking for any unannounced damaged for need for bodywork.
Do not hesitate to ask as many questions as you need prior to bidding
Do not be shy. If you are new to bidding in online car auctions, feel free to contact the auction location and ask as many questions as you need.
They commonly receive first-time buyers and are eager to help you out anyway they can before you place a bid on a car. You can search auction cars for sale in California on auction sites, but be sure to check back frequently because they are often adding new vehicles for auction.
Be sure to read all the requirements before bidding
Certain documentation, such as a valid US driver’s license, are required in order to bid. Anything that is required up front will be plainly listed on the auctioneer’s website.
Online car auctions open to public bidders are a painless way of buying a car at an auction. It is hard to find a faster way to buy a car than a car auction online.
It’s very important though to thoroughly research the cars you are interested in bidding on. Learn about their owner history and also make sure you look up the value at a few different sources. Most car auctions sell their cars as-is, without any warranty.