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July 18, 2012

State of Michigan Vehicle Auctions

When I asked recently about auto auction stories, one person mentioned they knew someone who had gotten a good deal from Michigan’s state auto auction. When I Googled for it, I found auctioneer Gary M. Berry who actually serves as an auctioneer for these state auctions.

State auctions of “excess vehicles” occur 4 to 6 times a year. According to Berry, a person could expect a price of between $2500 and $5000 for a decent, well-maintained vehicle, although one that hasn’t been cleaned for sale. So, the bargain price may require a bit of elbow grease. Cars available range from 4 to 6 years old and are low mileage.

Mr Berry says some “satisfied customers” return every 2-3 years to buy cars and trucks through the Michigan State Auto Auction. Some purchase cars for sons and daughters heading to college, and others are just buying a family car.

Berry recommends visiting an auction and seeing how things work before participating in one. The next auction, noted on his web site, will be September 8 at 10 a.m. Inspection of vehicles to be auctioned is available from 8-3 on Friday, September 7, and the morning of the sale from 8-9:30. The auction will be held at 731 N. Canal, which is the MDOT garage located on Canal, just north of Saginaw in West Lansing. Berry’s web site provides sale arrangements.

The State of Michigan also hosts an on-line auction which, at the time of this writing, had 6 cars and 2 motorcycles available.  For those who may be interested, numerous other items are available for bidding on the same site.

July 13, 2012

How Does It Work? Tell Us Your Stories

A recent college graduate, shocked at how expensive cars can be, decided he wanted to try the auto auction route. He asks some specific questions, which I will address shortly. First, though, I want to ask readers to share their experiences with us—good and bad. Did you get an amazing car at an unbelievable price? Did you get ripped off? Did you find the auction business you dealt with helpful or not? Did you find the process difficult? How much work did you do ahead of time to assure you got what you wanted, both vehicle and price? Are there pitfalls you warn other prospective buyers about? What did you do they got you what you wanted? Do you have regrets?

As I’ve reviewed some of the Michigan auto auction web sites, I’ve observed that most if not all have on line photos of available vehicles; most also have lots where cars may be viewed in person. However, I would verify with a telephone call before driving any distance for that. Some cars to be auctioned may not be at the lot till the time of the auction, another thing to check.

If you’ve never been to an auction of any kind, you should go to one, just for the experience before you go to bid (You can watch one here, but it’s not quite like  being there). One article I reviewed, suggested among its tips having a firm maximum bid in mind…and sticking to it! I would add, be prepared to let your choice go to another bidder rather than breaking you limit (or bank!). The auction experience itself can become intense, especially for the less experienced. Someone who wants the same item or even the owner who wants to drive up the price may run the bids up. If your goal is to get a get value, then you don’t want to get caught in the emotion of the moment.

If you don’t happen to know someone who has purchased a vehicle at auction, then I’d suggest calling and chatting with a couple of different owners of auction businesses. Prepare a list of questions and ask for their advice. I did something like that when I was shopping for paint, years ago, and I settled on one particular brand because the clerk clearly knew his business and gave me really sensible advice. A good dealer will do the same.

July 9, 2012

Charity Motors–Accepts Car Donations for Charity besides Auctioning Vehicles

Most people consider auto auctions as a place to purchase a decent car at an affordable or even an unusually low price. If you know what you’re doing, it is probably a good choice, and assuming you’re willing to do the necessary legwork.

Another benefit from some auto auctions is as a place to dispose of an unwanted car, as an alternative to attempting to sell it directly, especially if you are interested in giving to charity and gaining a tax benefit in the process.

Charity Motors in Detroit accepts donated vehicles, allows you to direct your donation to any church, school, or charity you choose, guarantees the full market value of your car at the time of you donation (no waiting for the car to sell), and provides the necessary tax record of your donation. If you do not have a particular charity you have chosen or favor, you can select on of Charity Motor’s favorites or simply let them decide for you. You also get the satisfaction of a secondary level of charity in your donation, as Charity Motors uses donated cars in their own special transportation assistance program to help the underprivileged with transportation.  So you make a donation to charity of the value of your car to your chosen charity, a comparable tax deduction, and the car in turn helps people who cannot afford their own, making Charity Motors the ideal place if you wish to donate a vehicle.

Charity Motors has donated more than 24 million dollars to over 2000 charities; some of their choices are listed here. Charity Motors also holds a weekly auction on Saturdays and direct retail sales from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Their telephone number is 888.908.CARS .

June 14, 2012

Midwest Auto Auction-An Industry Leader

Whether a person wants to buy, sell, or donate a car to charity, Midwest Auto Auction stands out.  Located on Telegraph Road in Redford, Michigan, Midwest Auto Auction has spent 60 years establishing itself as an industry leader.  As we noted earlier, Midwest Auto Auction is “considered one of the oldest and most established public auto auction houses in the country,” and its business has grown from vehicle auctions to a number of other services, such as estate auctions and an auto pawnshop, but still considers auto auctions its premier business.

Their website provides a current inventory of available vehicles, a history, FAQs, and even a 6 and a half minute video presentation providing an overview to the viewer.  A person may purchase a vehicle at their weekly auction, every Friday at 10 a.m. or arrange a purchase during normal business hours, Monday through Friday 10-5 or Saturday 10-3.  The weekly auction is in two parts; the first features vehicles that cannot be driven or are too large for the auction facility, and the second where vehicles are driven into the auction area.  No registration is required for bidding.  Winning bidders must provide a $300 deposit and then have 24 hours to provide payment.

Besides cars, Midwest Auto Auction also sells boats, motorcycles, RV’s, construction equipment, jet skis, snowmobiles, Semi trucks and trailers, motor homes, aircraft and pretty much anything with wheels.  They also buy cars whether they are old, new, badly rusted or not even working.  Donating a car or other vehicle is as easy as filling out an on line form including the possibility of pick up, with proceeds.

Midwest Auto Auction’s reputation is enhanced by its membership in several associations including the National Association of Public Auto Auctions, which we wrote about previously.

June 11, 2012

National Association of Public Auto Auctions (N.A.P.A.A.)

As I was exploring the web site of Mid-west Auto Auction, Inc., with the intent of expanding on what we posted previously, I noticed that the listed, among their membership and associations, the N.A.P.A.A., or National Association of Public Auto Auctions.  Thinking that such a listing might provide a bit more confidence in an auto auction’s business, I decided to check out this association and see how many Michigan Auto Auctions are members.  Assuming I understand what I found, Mid-Michigan Auto Auction, Inc. is the only Michigan business that is a member in this association.

What I found most interesting about the N.A.P.A.A. was its “Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct, which include the following:

  • To serve the automotive auction industry with honesty and integrity.
  • To treat all buyers and sellers fairly. “The Golden Rule” shall prevail.
  • To be honorable and trustworthy in all dealings.
  • To abide by all applicable Local, State and Federal Government Laws and regulations.
  • To act in a fiduciary manner regarding a client’s funds.
  • To never commingle client funds with personal funds.
  • To protect the general public, dealers and fleet accounts from unscrupulous practices.
  • To conduct ourselves in a professional, dignified and business like manner so as to merit respect and confidence from fellow members, industry affiliates, dealers, fleet accounts and the general public.

Only 17 auto auctions across the United States are members of the N.A.P.A.A.  In addition to its “Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct,” its web site has a map of member businesses and a search engine a person can use to locate the car they want among its members.

June 1, 2012

More on Motor City Auto Auctions

Suppose you want to try your hand at finding, bidding, and purchasing a used car for yourself.  You just want to get a good car for a good price and prefer not taking your chances with a used car lot or dealer.  An auction business like Motor City Auto Auction might be an option since it allows bidders who are neither dealers nor resellers, it doesn’t charge to place a bid, and holds 2 auctions every Saturday.

Motor City Auto Auctions has a user friendly web site which features a virtual tour, a simple and quick application process to become a bidder, very detailed instructions for bidding, and both financing and warranties available.  The site provides a list of available vehicles with year, make, model, and color, and it features a weekly list of display vehicles that include a pictures.

I expected their customer testimonial page to feature comments by satisfied customers; but, while the menu of photographs of  around 80 cars, some with what I assume to be buyers, I did not find any working links to comments by buyers.

Motor City Motor Auction is located on Groesbeck Highway, just north of 13 Mile Road, in the Detroit suburb of Fraser and is open every day except Sunday to view vehicles on site, although some only arrive close to their Saturday auction.  Motor City Auto Auctions has both a Facebook page and a Twitter account (@MotorCityAA).

Besides a weekly assortment of fresh vehicles and a supply of hard-to-find luxury vehicles, Motor City Auto Auctions promises friendly service, “a comfortable, no pressure experience,” and a “unique, fun, and interactive live auction experience.”

May 29, 2012

Salvage Auction Goes High Tech

I attended auctions with my parents when I was a kid; much of my grandfather’s farm equipment and some household things were sold at an auction after his death. Many of us have some experience with on line auction sites like eBay. While eBay has its own car site, vehicle auction businesses offer their own on line auctions. One represented here in Michigan by facilities in Lansing and metro Detroit is Copart, founded originally in California but now with facilities nationwide and in Canada. Their original on line auction is called VB2, and bidding can be done on line or a one of their local facilities.

Copart has prepared a number of videos to demonstrate their on line auction process, such as this one. Unlike eBay, where auctions end at a given time, Copart’s auctions are similar to live auctions where the process continues till the highest bid is reached and the auctioneer announces, “Sold!”

Copart’s Lansing area facility holds local sales on Fridays at 12 noon at:

Copart, Inc

3902 S Canal Road

Lansing, MI 48917-9540

Phone: (517) 322-2455

Copart’s metro area facilities holds local sales on Thursdays at noon at:

Copart Salvage Auto Auction

21000 Hayden Drive

Woodhaven, MI

Phone: (734) 365-0070

Copart sells more than cars. They also sell trucks of every size and classification, SUVs, ATVs, trailers, motorcycles, dirt bikes, boats, jet skis, and snowmobiles, as well as classic cars and even fork lifts. Copart also buys vehicles. As I write this, their web site lists nearly 75,000 vehicles of various kinds for sale. Each vehicle shows its make, model, year, mileage, current location, and the highest bid, along with a photo and more detailed information.

Copart’s success has earned it a place on Forbes “200 Best Small Companies” list nine years in a row. Copart was also featured on the television show, World’s Best as “The World’s Best Remarketing Company.”


April 6, 2012

Grand Valley Auto Auctions and Sales

Grand Valley Auto AuctionContact Information

0-1600 Lake Michigan Dr
Grand Rapids, MI 49534

Official Website

Important Information

  • Time: Ever Wednesday at 6:15 PM
  • Public Auction

More Information

Grand Valley Auto Auction is open to the public. They have an auction every Wednesday at 6:15pm (free admission). They have been serving west Michigan for over 25 years, offering vehicles at wholesale prices. They have over 100 vehicles weekly that consist of new car store trade-ins, used car dealers, repossessions, company vehicles, and public consignments. They also sell boats, bikes, RV’s, ATV’s, trailers, snowmobiles, etc.

April 6, 2012

Insurance Auto Auction – Grand Rapids MI

Contact Information

700 100th Street SW
Byron Center, MI 49315

Official Website

Important Information

  • Time: Every Monday at 9:00 AM ET.
  • Office Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu & Fri8:00AM-5:00PM ET
  • Public Auction


April 6, 2012

Mid Michigan Auto Auction Inc

Contact Information

2134 West M 61
Gladwin, Michigan  48624
Phone 1-989-426-8561

Official Website

Important Information

  • Tuesday @ 2:30 PM
  • Dealer Only


More Information

Gladwin Auto Auction claims to have the lowest fees in all of Michigan!