Hidden Costs to Watch Out for When Buying Cars at Auctions

Hidden Costs to Watch Out for When Buying Cars at Auctions

April 05, 2024

Car auctions can be an exciting way to snag a great deal on a vehicle, whether you're looking for your next daily driver or a project car. However, amidst the thrill of bidding, it's crucial to remain vigilant and aware of potential hidden costs that can inflate your expenses unexpectedly. In this blog, we'll explore some of the hidden costs to watch out for when buying cars at auctions, helping you navigate the process more effectively and make informed decisions.

Buyer's Premium

  • One of the most common hidden costs at car auctions is the buyer's premium. This is a fee charged by the auction house on top of the winning bid amount.
  • Buyer's premiums can vary widely, typically ranging from 5% to 10% or even higher, depending on the auction house and the value of the vehicle. It's essential to factor this additional cost into your budget when determining your maximum bid.

Vehicle Inspection Fees

  • While some auction houses offer vehicle inspections as part of their services, others may charge a fee for this service. Inspections can provide valuable insights into the condition of the vehicle, helping you make more informed bidding decisions.
  • However, be wary of inflated inspection fees or additional charges for detailed reports. It's advisable to inquire about inspection fees upfront and factor them into your budget if necessary.

Title and Registration Fees

  • Purchasing a vehicle at auction doesn't exempt you from title and registration fees. Depending on your location, you may be responsible for paying these fees directly to the relevant authorities.
  • Additionally, if the vehicle has a salvage title or other issues, there may be additional costs associated with title transfers or obtaining a rebuilt title, so be sure to research the requirements in your area.

Transportation Costs

  • Once you've won the bid on a vehicle, you'll need to arrange for transportation to get it to your desired location. Depending on the distance and method of transport, this can incur significant costs.
  • Whether you're hiring a professional transport service or towing the vehicle yourself, factor in transportation costs when budgeting for your auction purchase.

Repair and Maintenance Expenses

  • While the auction price may seem like a steal, remember that many vehicles sold at auctions are sold "as-is" without any warranties or guarantees.
  • Be prepared for potential repair and maintenance expenses, especially if the vehicle has undisclosed issues or requires extensive work to bring it up to your desired standard.

Storage Fees

  • If you're unable to arrange transportation for the vehicle immediately after winning the bid, you may incur storage fees from the auction house.
  • These fees can accumulate quickly, so it's essential to have a plan in place for transporting the vehicle promptly to avoid unnecessary expenses.


While car auctions can offer fantastic opportunities to purchase vehicles at competitive prices, it's crucial to be aware of the hidden costs that can arise during the process. From buyer's premiums and inspection fees to title and registration costs, transportation expenses, and potential repair bills, understanding and budgeting for these additional costs is essential for a successful auction experience. By staying informed and prepared, you can minimize surprises and make confident decisions when buying cars at auctions.


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