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Selling a Vehicle at a Public Auction

Selling or trading in a car can be time-consuming and leave you feeling disappointed once it’s gone. And setting up advertising and showing the cars to multiple lukewarm shoppers is sometimes more of a headache than it’s worth.

Fortunately, there’s a great alternative.

More Than 9 Million Cars are Sold at Auto Auctions Yearly according to the National Auto Auction Association – an organization that will be the first to tell you that auctions are one of the best ways to find used vehicles for cheap. However, bidding does require some skill in order to avoid going home with a lemon. So, assuming you’ve read all the tips to expertly buy a car at your local auction, let’s just dive into how to sell your car at an auction.


1.  How much does it cost to sell at an auto auction?

Auctions don’t actually own the cars that are sold on the lot. Instead, they provide the service in exchange for fees from sellers and buyers. Normally, sellers must have a title in their name for auctioneers to sell the vehicle. The only exceptions are for licensed dealers. Auctions will sell your car for a 12% seller’s fee up to $50 (Speed’s asks that you call on Wednesdays to confirm that there is room). In other words, the seller gets 88% of the final purchase price but doesn’t have to pay the auctioneer more than $50.
Auto Auction in Portland by Speed's Auto Auction

2. Is the seller present at the auction?

It depends on the type of seller. Some auctions ask that that licensed dealers represent their vehicles at the time of sale, but this is not necessary for private sellers. Sellers aren’t always private parties, either. Vehicles from Oregon charities, police impounds, and private donors are all included in the fun.

3. Is selling at an auto auction a good idea?

Considering there is no cost for advertising or having to wait around and haggle with partially-committed Cragislist-ers, yes! Selling at an auction is very convenient and safe for sellers, plus you receive payment shortly after the sale.

It’s an especially good idea to auction vehicles with engines or bodies that need work. If you’re having trouble selling to private buyers, auctions are great ways to connect with buyers from scrap yards or “freelance mechanics” who are looking for parts cars.

4. What do I need to sell my car at a public auction?

You’ll need to have the title in your name, its blue book value, and to a set reserve price (the lowest price you’ll formally accept). If you want a higher price for your car, consider having it professionally detailed. It seems silly, but it does wonders for increasing the value in the eyes of buyers. However, as far as the true value goes, be honest and objective. Buyers at auctions already know that they’re not getting showroom vehicles, and most are good at sorting through the chaff.

5. How do I set a reasonable reserve price?

Auctions bring hundreds of interested buyers to you, and you can be finished with the entire process in the span of a day if you set a good reserve price. You don’t have to set one, but not doing so will earn you a piddly amount of cash. Research the market value of your car by looking through ads for similar vehicles in similar condition. Again, be honest and objective – just because you spent $800 on new brake pads and rotors doesn’t mean the value increases accordingly. Be fair, but don’t set it too low either.


Why Sell at Speed’s Auto Auction?

Speed’s Auto Auction is known and respected by dealers and buyers alike. We draw massive crowds at our weekly auctions, held every Tuesday morning in Portland. When you sell your vehicle with Speed’s, you can be confident that you’ll get a fair price and a great experience. Our team knows car auctions inside and out, and we’re happy to help you sell your car for the price that it’s truly worth.

Give us a call any Wednesday to see how we can help you get started with the exciting process of auctioning your vehicle.