While visiting a car auction in California can be a lot of fun(even for first timers), there are also a few options to buy a used car online in California through an online car auction. Most are open to the public, but some may be for dealers only which would require a dealer’s license.
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 and government fleet surplus cars, and also abandoned tow vehicles.
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, 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) – Loctions 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.
Tips for bidding at an online car auction
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.
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.
Be sure to read all the requirements before bidding
Certain documentation, such as a valid US driver’s license, is required in order to bid. Anything that is required up front will be plainly listed on the auctioneer’s website.