Automotive Auction Day

automotive auction

When I worked for one of the largest automotive auction companies in the United States every sale day was total out of control chaos. The fun started at 6:00 am when the facility opened the gates for the inspection period several hours before the events began.

These 4 hours prior to hammer time allowed registered car dealers to inspect the automobiles they were interested in. Now as you might know not all used car dealers are the most honest people you'll meet.

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Every inspection period had its share of shady people trying to rig the car to fail or turn on the engine light, or even break the air conditioning. The goal was to damage a system that would reduce the bidding price while on the block. Some dealers would try to quickly rig the vehicle not to start.

This way it would have to be pushed through the auction lane and sold in not running condition. A car that doesn't run can't have the power-train evaluated and purchased dirt cheep. This can be as much as 80% below the real world value of the automobile. The bidder could then buy it and quickly repair what he busted, then turn around and sell it at full retail price. Some lazy guys thought they could rerun it in the same auction.

auction day picture

This is where I came in. A team of mechanics and I would drive around in golf carts armed with basic tools. 20 minutes before a car was to be run through the lane captain would start the vehicle and let it run. If it did not start I would get the call over the radio with the location of the unit.

An example of the call would be, no start lane D spot 546. I would head to that location and quickly diagnose the no start. I knew the vehicle was rigged not to start because all the vehicles ran the night before when they where put on the current spot. If a vehicle did not start it had a special location to be parked. It was pushed through with a specially rigged retired police car that had felt covered bumper bars.

I became an ace at diagnosing car not starting conditions. When I arrived on site I would immediately determine if the no start was a no cranking condition or if it cranked over was it no spark or no fuel condition.

After determining the cause I would head for the easiest to rig area of the car. An example would be if the car cranked over and had no spark I would check the coil wiring. The bad dealers had a trick that was to unplug the coil and then bend the pins down and reconnect the coil plug. This would make it look like the coil was connected but it was not.



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Another example was if the engine cranked over good and there was no fuel I would head for the fuel pump connector or look for a missing fuel pump relay in the relay center located under the hood on many cars. If the problem was a no cranking condition I would head for the starter relay and so on. The bad guys would go for the easy picking kinds of things.

The Challenge of Auto Auctions

I found this both rewarding and challenging to foil the unscrupulous car dealers attempt to get a car for pennies on the dollar. The registered dealers where frustrating the auction I worked for with large amounts of vandalism.

The amount of failures where so many that my crew of mechanics would have a hard time keeping up and this would slow the flow through the lanes. The auction would run thousands of vehicles a day and they had to be in order. 

If a car was skipped it was a loss of revenue for the seller and the auction house since they received a percentage of the final sale price. The auction house came up with a plan. They posted the lane captains in 2 story turrets and armed them with binoculars and a radio.

cars for sale

They would guard their lane and report any possible vandalism to my team and me that now road in a golf cart with a security guard. When we would catch the cheating dealer they would have their automotive auction passes revoked for life.

Which only meant the dealer would have to drive to the next closest auction to buy cars. Unfortunately with all the security measures put in place there was only a mild improvement in the vandalism of cars.

Eventually the process of the 14-hour auction day wore me out and I had to resign. The job was challenging and rewarding but took too much from the rest of my life. I do miss whizzing around on the golf carts and foiling the bad guys.

When I tell people these stories it can be hard to believe that people could be so evil but we are talking about car dealers. Before the letters start rolling in from upset business owners let me state clearly, there are many honest dealers in this world. And I even met some good honest ones at the automotive auction facility.

Online public auctions take this vandalism out of the equation because the auction takes place in cyber space while the vehicle sits quietly in storage. You can visit one of the best car auction websites below and see how this works. They provide a FAQ page that answers just about any question you could think of!

This next auto auction story is about a trusted mechanic that worked for me in the reconditioning department. Learn why and how this car auction mechanic scammed the system.

This next link will take you to the main car auction page that will connect you to more stories and pages about the subject. Go from this automotive auction story to auction cars.

This next link takes you to the auto facts home page. You can learn more about me and why I built this website.

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