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I’d like to say that I’m not a gambling man. However, selling a used car at an auction can be just that. It has its ups and downs but may just net a seller more cash than selling privately. There’s always the possibility of a bidding war starting with your used vehicle, and you stand to benefit. For these reasons, I’ve decided to auction my beloved 2010 VW GTI over on Cars & Bids in the coming weeks. For now, let’s talk about how beneficial this may be for you the consumer.

Why sell a used car at auction?

A gray Volkswagen GTI at sunset photographed in profile.
2010 Volkswagen GTI | Jobe Teehan

Frankly, taking a car to auction may seem like more work for you upfront. In reality, it often pans out to be less headache than just throwing your car up on Craigslist and hoping for the best. This is especially true of selling a performance car. No one wants to give out test drives to tire kickers, and an auction is a great way to prevent that from happening. A larger site like Bring a Trailer will have bidders from across the country, most of whom aren’t local and just looking for a joy ride.

There’s also a certain amount of peace of mind to be found in auctioning off your ride. Should you choose not to set a reserve (a cash value that the vehicle must sell for), it’s pretty much guaranteed that your vehicle will sell. If you’ve already mentally let go of the vehicle and want it gone, chances are the auction will get pretty close to the number you wanted anyways. Just be realistic about what you think the car will sell for.

Auctions may bring more cash than selling privately

A gray Volkswagen GTI at sunset photographed from the rear 3/4.
2010 Volkswagen GTI | Jobe Teehan

Of course, there’s also the financial benefits of an auction, some of which we got into above. There’s always the chance of a bidding war, where buyers bid back and forth in the hopes of winning a vehicle they’re all foaming at the mouth over. This is far and away the most ideal circumstance for your auction but beware. It’s a very rare thing to have happen. That is unless you’ve got something truly rare and special.

There’s also the current market climate to consider. Due to the semiconductor shortage, supply chains are in shambles. I mean, how many times has Ford been unlucky enough to push back Bronco production? As a result, consumers are turning to the used market to satisfy their demand. Should you be looking to get the most out of your auction, be you bidder or seller, look here for some pointers.

Photos are everything

A gray Volkswagen GTI at sunset photographed with the Rocky Mountains in the background
2010 Volkswagen GTI | Jobe Teehan

In summary, an attractive listing is everything. I’m no Larry Chen, but some half-decent photos can make or break an auction. Don’t let your car look like a ****box because you took your photos on a 25-year-old Nokia cameraphone. Having service records handy is another great way to help you succeed. I’ll be going into the process more in-depth when my car is listed, and be sure to report the results. Overall, I expect the process to be a relatively painless one, and you should too.


How to Get the Best Used Car for Your Money Online