As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing used cars that were sold at an auction, price changes based on credit score, and the dilemma between a generous buyback or keeping the car you love.
This is one of those common misconceptions that still persists. Just because a car was sold at an auction does not mean it is problematic. In fact, the vast majority of used cars move through auctions at least once.
There are a number of reasons why a dealer would have a car then send it to the auctions. Often, dealers will send out inexpensive cars to auctions rather than take up space on their lot that could have been occupied with a more attractive sale. Sometimes, good cars just sit for a while and rather than continue to pay for that car to be in the inventory, dealers will take their chances with an auction sale. Local markets and vehicle popularity have a lot to do with which cars will sell fast and which cars may move through the auction channels. In fact, many of your manufacturer certified pre-owned cars have been sold at auction at some point in time.
I would not stress about a car being sold at auction once. That being said, if you see a car with several auction sales that could be a red flag. I was recently shopping for a used M3 and there was a car in the Maryland area being sold at an independent used car lot that did not seem to be the most legit operation.
On the CarFax that M3 was taken in by two of the local BMW dealers then almost immediately tossed to the auctions and had a total of three auction sales on the history. A well sorted E92 M3 is a desirable car, but one that was beat on is going to have a hard time finding the right buyer. Reading between the lines, it seemed like both BMW dealers found something troubling about the car and decided to cut it loose.
Next up, can a dealer chance the price due to the buyer’s credit score?