Selling Cars at Online Auctions – A Comprehensive Guide

Online Car Auction

Table of Contents

5 Min Read

Online car auctions are a great way to buy vehicles in the 21st century. Not just classic cars, you can get your hand on regular vehicles as well, and that too at a highly affordable price. Research shows that the US car auction market is forecasted to grow by a CAGR of around 3.1% (2021-2025), reaching an estimated $3.42 billion by 2025.

Selling your vehicle at a car auction online is a great way to get some extra cash, whether you’re looking for a good deal or want to clear out your garage. If you have an automotive beauty on your hands, the right buyer could pay top dollar for it!


What is an Online Car Auction?

An online car auction can be thought of as a regular car auction but on a digital channel. Such auctions are held over and accessed through the internet. Businesses and people can check out other dealer lots, list their cars for sale, and make bids for purchasing vehicles. To take care of security, a system for seller and bidder verification is also included on online auto auction websites to remove the possibility of fraud. 


What Types of Online Car Auctions are There?

Before understanding how car auction online works, let’s take a look at the different types of vehicle auctions.

Public Auctions

Cars being sold at public auctions include wholesale lots, high-end sports cars, SUVs, and repossessed vehicles. The quality of cars can vary; hence buyers usually look for detailed vehicle reports before bidding. If you want to sell your car at a public car auction, a detailed history report will help your case.

Government Auctions

A government auction will usually sell utility trucks, old police cruisers, and vehicles that have been impounded for violations. These car auctions can be competitive, and the usual customer base here includes taxi drivers and used auto retailers. 

Private Auctions

Car Dealerships are the usual participants of private car auctions online because only those with a dealer’s license can gain access to closed auctions. These auctions serve as an opportunity for them to stock up the dealership inventory with affordable cars, fix them if required, and then resell them. 

Online Auctions

Websites for car auctions online will ask the buyer to register themselves before they can place a bid. After registration, you can search for a vehicle to bid on from the available inventory. Usually, the bidding process takes days, and the running top bid is displayed on the screen until the deadline. The main attraction of online auctions for buyers is that they can purchase vehicles at lower prices, sometimes from different states, without leaving their homes.


How to Sell at Car Auction Online – Step-by-Step Guide

You must be aware that people buying cars at auction are picky about what they purchase. So, to get the best value for your car, you must know specific hacks for car auctions:

1. Know the process of an online car auction

The process of selling cars at auction websites is pretty similar to traditional (offline) car auctions. You’ll need to list your vehicle with a private seller and determine its value. Then, you’ll get bids from people interested in buying cars at auction. These bids are placed on the auction website, and you get notifications via text or email.

Online bidding can stretch from a few days to a few weeks. That said, a digital vehicle auction is much quicker than getting quotes from dealerships or putting up classifieds in local newspapers.

2. Find out about your car’s resale value

Before you run off to Sell A Car, you need to know its worth. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Get a mechanic to inspect your vehicle: You must never arrive at a car auction with a damaged vehicle. Before listing your car for sale, you must have it checked by a mechanic and repaired correctly. To get extra points for aesthetics, get your car cleaned nicely. People buying cars at auction will never pay good money for a vehicle that doesn’t look good or work properly.
  • Check the history report for your car: A vehicle’s history report will give you insights into essential details, including what work had been done to the vehicle and if it was in any accidents. If you’re into buying used cars and flipping them for a profit, then you need a reliable vehicle history report. Also, if you offer a clean report to buyers, then you could improve your Car Sales value.
  • Look at any modifications made to the car: Aftermarket fitments, like custom seats/seat covers, custom paint job, alterations under the hood, etc., also affect the worth of your vehicle. Depending on the type of modifications, the value of your car could increase or decrease.

3. Present your car in the best light

The better your vehicle looks, the better price it will fetch. The condition of your cars should be good; buyers shouldn’t feel like you’ve listed salvage cars for sale. Here’s what you should do:

  • Tidy up your car: The first thing you want to do is make sure your vehicle is presentable. You should also remove any personal items from your car’s interior (such as shoes or jackets) because they could distract potential buyers. A nice wash will help it look better.
  • Check engine, tires, brakes, and electronics: If there are any issues with these parts of the vehicle, it may not be worth selling at auction. No one wants to buy someone else’s problems! Make sure everything works properly before putting it up for sale; if something needs replacing, fix it before putting it up for sale.
  • Use high-quality images and videos: To successfully sell a car in a car auction online, you must post good images. Using high-quality, professional images and videos to showcase your car will help you build consumer confidence, helping you sell faster and rope in a better bid.

For a professional car photoshoot, you can go the traditional route – either rent/build a studio, hire a professional photographer, invest in camera equipment, etc. – or you can use innovative, automated solutions, like

4. Determine the most profitable car auction site for you

Different platforms attract different kinds of audiences, so be sure to check them all out. Some might focus on luxury or classic cars, while some might be keener on selling family cars. You must pick the right platform for your vehicle to attract a maximum number of people buying cars at auction.

Well-reputed sites are suitable for finding buyers in terms of quality and quantity. More people will attend an auction organized by a reputed platform than those managed by a non-reputed one. You can use various review sites like Yelp or Google Local to know the reviews of these websites.

5. Check how market trends and demand affect the prices of vehicles at auctions

When selling your car, it’s crucial to research market trends and demand. The better the demand for your car, the better its value will be. If your vehicle is a popular model that still has demand in the market, you’ll be able to get an excellent price for it. Similarly, an iconic car with a cult following will also fetch high bids.

The best way to do this is by visiting a few car auction websites and checking out what they have going on. You can also find information about private sales online or through local newspapers or magazines to know what buyers want. Visit car meets and rallies to understand what the enthusiasts and collectors are looking for.



By following our guide, you can create a successful online car auction business. Remember to research the market thoroughly before you begin. Without proper research, you might set the wrong starting bid or assume that there is a demand for your car when it isn’t true.

Also, choose the correct auction for your vehicle. Otherwise, you won’t attract the intended buyers. A surefire way to earn profit in a car auction is by bidding for cars yourself and flipping them for profit in another auction. Selling A Car bought from an auction can generate gains of around $1200 per car. For classic cars, your earnings can go much higher!


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  • Q. Can I sell my used junk car at auction?

    Yes. Find the resale value of your car and determine what auction site you want to use. Understand the rules of their auction site and then list your vehicle. Make sure to add images, videos, and detailed text descriptions, so buyers can determine how much they want to bid. Once the bidding begins, you will get notified. Have a plan in place for what to do in case the car doesn’t sell. 

  • Q. Can you make money selling cars at auctions?

    Yes, you can make good money by selling vehicles at auctions. However, it would be best if you were willing to learn and spend time on the process. It’s not as easy as it sounds because there are a lot of things that go into making money this way.

    You need to know what you’re doing. This means reading up on how auctions work and what kind of cars sell (and don’t sell) in such events. It also means understanding your local market better than anyone else, so that when an opportunity comes, you can grab it.

    You need a lot of patience and persistence. Most people fail miserably because they don’t realize how much effort goes into flipping cars and selling them at auctions. There’s no quick fix here – it can take weeks to see results.

  • Q. Can you make a living by flipping cars and selling them at auctions?

    The answer is yes, but it isn’t easy. You will need to invest a lot of time and money into it. You will also need to learn how to find good deals and negotiate with sellers successfully. After that, you’ll need to fix them and then find a platform to sell them. If you want a good side hustle, you can try this out!

  • Q. How much does it cost to flip cars for auction?

    It’s important to note that the cost of flipping a car depends on the car and its condition. For a regular, high-mileage vehicle, you can set up a budget of around $800 to $1,500 for the purchase and repairs. However, your budget will go much higher for classic cars, even stretching into tens of thousands of dollars for the more iconic ones.

Written by

Team Spyne

Young, enthusiastic, and curious are the three words that describe Spyne’s content team perfectly. We take pride in our work - doing extensive research, engaging with industry experts, burning the midnight oil, etc. Every word we write is aimed at solving our readers’ problems.

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