San Francisco – Buying Tips

San Francisco – Buying Tips

COVID-19 Important Announcement:

How to get a bargain vehicle at the public 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 Monday, a preliminary auction list is posted for the current week’s public auction vehicles. You can sign up to receive this list and the results of the previous week’s auction via email or by visiting the Vehicles Sales page.  (Note: Auctions are conducted every other Wednesday, please see schedule for details.)

2. Understand how to read auction lists.

Vehicles are sold in the order they are listed.  Auction numbers “101 through 199” indicate that the vehicle will be driven through the auction ring for bidding.  Auction numbers “201 through 299” indicate either 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 give excellent estimates for used vehicles.

4. Get a complete vehicle history at

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 the 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.