Buying Tips

How to get a bargain vehicle at the AutoReturn auctions:

It pays to do your homework before you head out to the auction site. Here are some expert buying tips to put you ahead of the game.

1. Make a list of vehicles you are interested in bidding on.

Every other Wednesday, AutoReturn posts a preliminary list of the current week’s vehicles for auction. You can find this list by visiting our Vehicle Sales page. (Note: AutoReturn conducts auctions every other Thursday)

2. Understand how to read auction lists.

– Vehicles are sold in the order they are listed.

– S = Salvage title and can only be purchased by dealers with a salvor license

– R = Rebuilt title and can be purchased buy a public buyer. Titles may come back rebuilt.

– MVIN = For vehicles that have been designated by the IMPD as needing an MVIN, the following process will be completed:  buyer is responsible for purchasing a VIN plate and having it inspected by a police officer.

– SCRAP = Vehicle may only be purchased by a dealer with a salvor license. Vehicle must be crushed or sold for parts only.

– MC = Indicates a motorcycle or scooter.

3. Assess the fair market value of vehicles you are interested in.

Although most auction vehicles sell for less than the retail value, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com give excellent estimates for used vehicles.

4. Get a complete vehicle history at Carfax.com.

For a fee, these sites let you enter the vehicle identification number (VIN) to receive a vehicle history report (ownership, accidents, major damage).

5. Review past auction sales.

This will give you a sense of how much vehicles sell for — and what you might expect to pay for similar ones at auction.

6. Prioritize your list.

Once you have done your research, decide which vehicles you want most and least.

7. Set a budget.

Set a budget, so you know your starting and maximum bid for each vehicle.

8. Check the online vehicle list the day before the auction.

Updated lists will post the order in which vehicles will be auctioned. You can also verify that the vehicles you are interested are still scheduled. Vehicles can be claimed by owners and auctions rescheduled, so checking the list for updates can prevent a wasted trip to the auction.

9. Read our auction policies.

Before going to the auction, read AutoReturn’s auction terms so you know accepted payment methods and fees involved.

10. Arrive to the auction early to take advantage of the inspection time.

Consider bringing a mechanic or someone with comparable knowledge to advise you. Inspections are visual only. You may not start or drive vehicles during inspection.