a row of various cars parked like they are lined up for auction

Auto Car Auction: 10 Terms to Know

Are you planning to get your next vehicle at an auto car auction? Like any auction, special lingo can make the event stressful. Learning the words before can help you win, and make it clear you’re getting what you want. These are some terms you should definitely know before you begin bidding.

1. Auctioneer

The auctioneer is the man or woman who runs a public auto car auction. The auctioneer is there to start the bidding, keep things moving, decide when to lower the hammer on a sale, and declare the winner. Occasionally, it’s the seller of the vehicle, but the seller can hire another individual to conduct the sale on their behalf. 

2. Dismantler

Sometimes vehicles are sold for the parts, and a dismantler is needed in these circumstances. A dismantler is someone licensed by the state to take apart a car to sell the parts without damaging any items. Some vehicles are sold to a dismantler due to the level of damage sustained or other reasons. 

3. Public Bidding

Anyone can buy a car that is open for public bidding as long as they have cash in hand. This is different from auctions which require all bidders to have an exclusive license to purchase any vehicles offered. 

4. Reserve Price

The seller of an item can refuse to sell a vehicle below a specified price, and the auction house will state that there is a reserve price on the auto. The reserve price is hidden during the bidding process. Bidding proceeds normally, but if the last bid doesn’t meet or exceed the reserve price, the auto car auction declares that the item won’t be sold.

5. Salvage Title

When a vehicle has been declared a total loss by an insurance company due to an accident, natural disaster, or another issue, the state will issue a salvage title. This means that the vehicle cannot be driven on the road until repairs are completed. Most states have a process by which you can get a rebuilt title for a salvaged vehicle and have it restored to a proper running condition.

6. Rebuildable

The term rebuildable applies to any vehicle that currently has a salvage title, but is eligible to be repaired and receive a rebuilt title. This means that the car has a regular salvage title that can lead to a total repair. If the vehicle has a “parts only” title, it is not going to be able to be restored.

7. Clear Title

A clear title means that the car is ready to have the ownership transferred from the seller to the bid winner. It’s clear to be purchased and registered in any state. Most cars purchased at an auto car auction have a clear title, but if not, the owner is required to establish the type of title the vehicle has.

8. Rebuilt Title

A car that had a salvaged title but was repaired to a proper running condition can be registered with a rebuilt title. A car with a rebuilt title has to be inspected by the state before it can be available for a bidder to purchase and register. Rebuilt titles will always have a lower value, making it an option for those looking to bid with a budget.

9. Government Vehicle Auctions

Government vehicle auctions are specialized auctions that offer goods that have been confiscated by the government. Sometimes a government vehicle auction could also mean that a general auctioneer has been contacted to deal with stock that needs be liquidated by various government bodies at the state, local, and federal level.

10. Dealer Car Auctions

A dealer car auction is another specialized type of auction where the general public aren’t allowed to bid. Only licensed dealers are allowed to participate in dealer car auctions, and the prices of vehicles tend to be lower than advertised.

Last Updated: December 13, 2018