When you use an online car auction site like SCA, you may be wondering if you can inspect the auto auction vehicles before you bid on them. Because they are online auto auctions, you have the benefit of direct access to auto auctions all over the United States, but that can make inspecting the cars before buying them a challenge.
As you browse the auction site, you may notice that the salvage autos from auctions have a thumbnail photo of the car you can click that will take you to the listing description. In the descriptions, you will find a lot more information about the vehicle.
Here are some of the facts that you might find on the listing:
- Year, make and model – You can use the search engine on the website to search for cars that you are interested in. By having the information in the listing, it is easier for you to find the vehicle you want. It also lets you do more outside research for information on the vehicle. The manufacturer’s website may be a good place to find out more about the model.
- Odometer – The odometer reading will be on the listing. There are four different readings: actual mileage; not actual mileage; exempt mileage; and exceeds mechanical limits. A “not actual reading” could mean that there may be damage to the odometer or other mechanical part that keeps you from getting a true reading. Today’s vehicles probably will not have an “exceeds mechanical limits” status since most current vehicles have a dash display capable of reading over 99,999. However, you might see this on older model vehicles or motorcycles.
- VIN – The Vehicle Identification Number is a 17-digit string of numbers and letters that tell you where the vehicle was manufactured, what year it was manufactured, and the brand, body style, and engine size. You can also see the actual serial number and the assembly plant. If you need help decoding it, you can check the manufacturer’s website for more information.
- Damage – The listing will include damage assessments. It may tell you where the primary damage is, as well as list any secondary damages. The damages may be visible in the photos, so be sure to take a look at those as you read the description.
- Title Status – The title may be listed as a salvage title, which is what you will find with salvage vehicles for sale. It means that the insurance company has determined the car is worth less than the cost of repairs. This information may also be available on the website under Actual Cash Value and Estimated Repair Costs. Those two figures may help you decide how much to bid.
- Location of the Auction – Another piece of information displayed will be the location of the auction. This includes sites that holds auctions online, like SCA.com – the location of the vehicle is at the physical site of the car auction.
Vehicle History Report
Some sites give you access to a vehicle history report on the car that you want to bid on. The vehicle history report will go into more detail on the condition and history of the vehicle. A report may tell you more information on the engine, transmission, and other mechanical parts. It might tell you how many people have owned the car and whether it was serviced. It may give you more details on mileage and include a title history.
You may be able to see the report for free, but most of the free previews are limited. If you want more detailed information, you may have to pay for it.
When buying at online insurance auto auction sites, you may be able to visit the site in-person. In some cases, you may need to have an upgraded site membership, or you may need a dealer license. In some cases, you might be able to buy a day pass badge. But chances are you will not be able to view the car in-person.
That does not mean that you cannot hire someone to take a look at the vehicle for you. Many places have third-party inspectors that they work with who do have access to the vehicles. A pre-purchase inspector must have permission to go to the auction in question, and you will need to pay them for the inspection.
Here are some of the evaluations you might get from your pre-purchase inspection:
- Interior components checked;
- Engine checked;
- Mechanical parts checked;
- Electrical components checked;
- Tires checked;
- Maintenance checked;
- Wheels checked;
- Road tested;
- Diagnostic scan
Depending on the vehicle that you want to buy, you may need to find an inspector who specializes in your car choice. For instance, if you want to buy a classic car or a vintage vehicle, you may want to hire someone familiar with these types of vehicles.
There are many ways to inspect a car before you buy it, so take your time and find the right car for your budget and needs. If you find a car and the inspection is bad, do not worry, there will be another car that you will like at another auction.
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