How to Evaluate Auction Inventory for Your Dealership


Auto auctions are a valuable source of inventory for dealerships, offering a wide range of vehicles at competitive prices. However, making smart purchases requires careful evaluation and strategic planning. In this guide, we’ll provide tips and strategies for evaluating inventory at auctions to help you make informed decisions and optimize your dealership’s inventory.

dealer auction buying

Preparing for the Auction

Preparation is key to a successful auction experience. Start by researching the auction listings in advance to identify vehicles that meet your dealership’s needs. Set a budget for each vehicle and stick to it to avoid overspending. Familiarize yourself with the auction process and rules to ensure you know what to expect on the day of the auction.


Key Factors to Consider When Evaluating Vehicles


When evaluating vehicles at an auction, several key factors should be considered:

  • Vehicle History Reports: Obtain and review vehicle history reports to check for any past accidents, title issues, or other red flags.
  • Physical Condition: Assess the overall condition of the vehicle, including the exterior, interior, and under the hood.
  • Mileage and Age: Consider the mileage and age of the vehicle, as these factors can impact its resale value and appeal to customers.
  • Market Demand and Resale Value: Research and familiarize yourself with current market trends to determine the potential resale value of the vehicle and its demand among your customer base.


Inspecting the Vehicle


Conducting a thorough inspection is crucial to evaluating a vehicle’s condition accurately:

  • Exterior and Interior Examination: Look for signs of wear and tear, damage, and previous repairs. Check the paint, body panels, tires, and interior upholstery.
  • Engine and Mechanical Components: Inspect the engine, transmission, brakes, and other mechanical components for any issues. Look for leaks, unusual noises, and other warning signs.
  • Test Driving: If possible, take the vehicle for a test drive to evaluate its performance and handling. Pay attention to the ride quality, acceleration, braking, and any unusual sounds or vibrations.


Using Technology to Assist in Evaluation


Leverage technology to enhance your vehicle evaluation process:

  • Mobile Apps and Online Tools: Use mobile apps and online tools to access vehicle history reports, market pricing data, and other valuable information.
  • Data Analytics: Utilize data analytics to make informed decisions based on market trends, historical sales data, and customer preferences.


Bidding Strategies


Having a clear bidding strategy can help you make smart purchases without overspending:

  • Know When to Bid and When to Walk Away: Set a maximum bid for each vehicle and stick to it. Be prepared to walk away if the bidding exceeds your budget.
  • Understand Bidding Increments and Competition: Familiarize yourself with the bidding increments and observe the competition to make strategic bids.
  • Tips for Winning Bids: Place bids confidently and avoid getting caught up in bidding wars. Focus on the value of the vehicle rather than the excitement of the auction.


Post-Auction Steps


After successfully purchasing vehicles at an auction, follow these steps to prepare them for resale:

  • Complete Paperwork and Payment: Ensure all necessary paperwork is completed and payments are made promptly to finalize the purchase. Check with the auction for their accepted payment methods. Most auctions will accept cash or wire transfer, or allow you to apply for the ability to write checks. Almost every auction will accept Auto Use floorplan as payment, and if they don’t, Auto Use allows dealers to write checks directly from their floorplan line.
  • Arrange Transportation: Organize transportation to move the purchased vehicles from the auction site to your dealership. Auto Use can floorplan transportation costs, post-sale inspections, and other post-sale added expenses through the auction.
  • Initial Inspection and Preparation: Conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicles once they arrive at your dealership. Perform any necessary repairs, cleaning, and detailing to prepare them for resale.




Evaluating inventory at auctions requires careful planning, thorough inspection, and strategic bidding. By following these tips, you can make informed decisions and optimize your inventory purchases. Auctions offer a great opportunity to acquire quality vehicles at competitive prices, and with the right approach, you can enhance your dealership’s inventory and profitability. Use these strategies to navigate the auction process successfully and make smart purchases for your dealership.


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