The Ultimate Guide to Buying Salvage Cars in the US

Buying Salvage Cars

Buying a car can be a stressful experience. It is one of the biggest purchases we make in our lives. To make it even more stressful, buying the wrong car can end up costing you on top of the purchase price.

When you are looking for “salvage cars for sale,” the stress can be even greater knowing that the car will need repairs to be road-worthy. These cars are different from what you typically find at an auto store. We have put together this ultimate guide to buying salvage cars in the US to try to help alleviate some of the stress. Going into an auction prepared will help you land great salvaged car deals.

Ultimate Car Auction Guide

Here are some ways to prepare yourself once you have decided that you would like to buy salvage vehicles at used car auctions.

Research the Auto Auction

Before you can bid on repairable cars, you need to figure out which auction you would like to purchase from. There are several factors that go into this decision; so, make sure to choose wisely. 

One of the first things you will want to consider is the auction location. If the auction is far away, transportation costs for getting the vehicle home may be costly. Search for “used car auctions near me” to see your options closer to home. Consider an online car auction with many locations throughout the US such as A Better Bid.

Finally, you will want to find a seller that will have wrecked cars for sale that fit your interest level. For example, if you are looking for a classic car, make sure the auction offers classic cars. There are plenty of crashed cars for sale; so, you can find an auction that will have the vehicles that you are looking for.

Find a Good Mechanic

Even if you are considering doing all of the work needed for your new purchase, it is highly advisable to have a mechanic look over the car to give you a good idea of what needs repair. Salvage cars have been deemed too costly to repair by auto insurance companies, so they are going to need some work. 

Mechanics may also be able to help point you in the direction of good junkyards that will have the needed parts for your new purchase, or they may know of junkyard cars for sale in your area. Keep in mind that auto auctions also sell “parts-only” vehicles also known as “non-repairable” vehicles—which are a great source for car parts.

Come Up with a Good Repair Estimate

Before you begin looking at upcoming car auctions, research some cars that you think would be a great fit for your needs. Then, look at the damages and talk to some professional mechanics or vehicle inspectors to help you come up with a good budget for repairs.

One of the biggest ways to save money on your repairs is to search for used parts online or in junkyards near you. You can find makes and models at junkyards and they will almost always have something you will need for your repairs.

It is a good idea to plan on repairs costing more than you planned for. That is incredibly important to keep in mind if you are on a strict budget and are looking at sites like Cars and Bids.

Come Up with a Backup Plan

You may realize that buying a salvage vehicle is going to take you more time and cost you more money than you expected. If you are not able to find a project that is going to fit within your budget, then come up with a backup plan outside of buying a salvage vehicle. Look for vehicles that are the same or similar to what you are considering, price them with a clean title, then see if the salvage car you are considering will save you money.

Be Prepared to Walk Away

Do not get your heart set on any one car or even on buying a salvage vehicle in general. If you decide that you do not have the time, money, or expertise for a specific car, be prepared to walk away from that idea. Sure, it would be fun to own a cool car, but do not limit yourself. 

Find the Right Auto Auction 

You have done your research and you have decided that a salvage car is the correct path for you. So, where can you buy a salvage car? Here are some great options to consider:

A Better Bid – A Better Bid is one of the leaders in salvage vehicles—offering over 300,000 vehicles for sale daily with over 190 locations nationwide. As registered Copart brokers, they offer their members access to wholesale auction vehicles that are typically only available to dealers. Using A Better Bid, you can cut out the middlemen and save tons of cash. No dealer’s license is needed.

Speed Towing Auction – If you are in the Portland area and it is a Tuesday, then Speed Towing is having an auto auction. Auctions are held in-person and online. They auction off wholesale cars, bank repossessions, car donations, and more. Check out their website to see what they have to offer!

Orlando Longwood Auto Auction – Located in Orlando, FL, Longwood holds weekly auctions on Fridays. You must be a dealer to participate in the auction, so you may have to find a broker to help you purchase here. There are tons of late-model cars available for your purchasing enjoyment.

CarMax Auctions – CarMax is one of the biggest names in used car sales. It goes to reason, then, that they are getting more trade-ins than they can reasonably sell and so they have started auctioning off cars. Most locations conduct weekly auctions while some of them may have two auctions per week. Check to see if they have a location near you and when auctions are held.


Buying any car can be a stressful experience. You want to make a wise purchase that will save you money or get a vehicle that you have been dreaming about for a good price. Follow this guide and you will end up with a great deal on a salvage car that you will love!