Vehicle Auctions and Vehicle Transportation

It goes without saying that, as more cars are being sold at auctions and, with larger numbers of buyers having access to auctions online, transporting vehicles from auctions are maturing very rapidly.

While new vehicle sales has seen a consistent drop in the past few years, used vehicle prices have strengthened and the outlook is a buoyant one, due in large part to an increase in clearance rates and many of the country’s top auction houses.

Even with the growing success of online auctions, many customers are not aware of a few simple steps that are required in order to enjoy a successful transportation.

Therefore, we are pleased to provide some of the main considerations for shipping a car bought at an auction.

The Start of the Motor Vehicle Auction

First off, let us help you understand how an auction works and what types of cars you’ll find here.

With the peaks and troughs of the motor vehicle industry, car buyers are embracing a new way to purchase vehicles at the price they set.

Car auctions began as early as 1948 and became a popular way to sell mostly used cars under a bidding system.

It was a great way to help sell cars and avoid big sales drops and, bit by bit, the system has gained popularity although it is mostly controlled by used car dealerships and fleet management companies to transfer second-hand cars.

Besides closed auctions for dealers, auctions are often open to the public as sales channels for for repossessed cars, ageing cars from rental companies, off-lease returns; trade-ins, and even vehicles seized by government agencies. Some insurance companies also submit their written-off cars to feed the salvage car market.

While used cars are the main focus of the market, new cars are also included in the auctions, especially when dealers want to get rid of unsold inventory.

What Types of Vehicles will you find at an Auction?

The word auction is normally synonymous with used or second-hand items, however “new”, is also becoming part of the mix in the car industry.  

Here’s a quick list of what you can find selling at an auction:

Off-Lease Vehicles

Off-lease vehicles are very common and popular and are one of the most traded cars from dealers.

These vehicles are returned after the lease term is over, they have a certain mileage limit in order to be submitted and require regular maintenance.

Off-Rental Vehicles

Off-rental vehicles are cars submitted mainly by rental companies, after a year or so of use.

The car-rental companies submit their used fleets for auction in order to replace them with new ones. Off-rental cars are usually in very good state as rental companies keep close eyes to their maintenance and well being for their customers.

Company or Fleet Cars

The variety of company and fleet cars is high and can range from the luxury sedans to commercial trucks. The state of the vehicles will vary. Luxury sedans driven by company execs will likely be in a better shape than the company cargo trucks that might be used and mistreated with everyday use.

Repossessed Vehicles

Repossessions are also a most common types of vehicle you will find at auctions.

Finance companies and dealers repossess these cars from indebted owners and commit them to storage. If cars are not paid for and claimed after a certain period, they’re submitted to auctions for sale.


These are vehicles that customers trade in for new ones at a dealership.

Sometimes dealers will find themselves with cars that don’t meet their requirements either because they’re too old, mileage is over limits, or the car has too many damages. They’ll invariably submit these cars to auctions to make extra income.

Sometime modifications made after market modifications can help raise the value for the car and dealers get an extra income.

Salvage Vehicles

Salvage vehicles mainly come in from insurance companies where the cars have been involved accidents and have been determined as total loss.

New Vehicles

When new inventory comes in and previous year’s cars are still on sale, dealers may be forced to sell the old models via auction in order to make room for new inventory.

They are sold in lower prices than a dealer can ever offer a customer, but at least this way they can make up for losses by replacing the shop floor with brand new vehicles.

How to Ship a Car You’ve Won at Auction?

Online auctions attract bidders and buyers from across the country and that means there is a high likelihood that the auction you’re bidding on is nowhere near where you live.

Once the auction ends and the car is paid for, it becomes your responsibility to clear the vehicle from the auction premises and have it transported to you or wherever you need it. 

The vehicle transport industry has adapted, and with the growing car auction popularity, car shipping from auctions is now in high demand and commonplace.

As with everything though, there are some things you’ll need to take care of, to make sure you enjoy a hassle free experience with no extra fees due to overlooked details.

When you buy a car at an auction, you’ll need to pay the price it went for, plus taxes and storage fees.

The paperwork is taken care by either yourself or the person bidding on your behalf and auction facilitator. 

Once paid, the auction house will usually provide a period of time where you can keep the car in storage free of charge (or at a minimum rate) until you can arrange pickup or transportation.

Make sure this is arranged beforehand and paid in full before driver is there to pick up the car. Storage fees are not generally excessive and the driver might agree to pay it and later invoice you upon delivery. (Check with the transport company because this may not always not always be the case.

Drivers are not responsible for these fees, and if they’re not willing to cover this bill in order to take car, they could decline taking the car altogether and charge you cancellation fees.

Another important thing when transporting a car from an auction is to provide the lot number where the car is located.

VIN number and colour may be optional, however if available, it’s better to provide them for absolute clarity.

Many auctions will also provide buyer a receipt that must be presented by driver in order to collect the car. If this is the case, it is extremely important that you provide this receipt and any other document to your transport company so they can provide it to the driver on the ground.  

Delays due to missing paperwork will cause extra unnecessary delays and fees. Remember that just like you have schedules to stick to, drivers have schedules they have to stick to as well in order to provide a safe and timely delivery.

Whilst most times you might not have a contact person at the premises for the driver to contact upon pickup in case of any emergency, make sure you are available by phone on the day of pickup in case driver needs assistance.

If an issue arises and cannot resolved, driver will likely leave car behind and cancellation and rescheduling fees incurred, not mentioning an extra day of storage at your responsibility.

Generally though, the process is straightforward and many Australian car transport companies are well-familiar with the nuances involved. In fact, many will even guide you through the process to make sure it runs smoothly for both themselves and you.

Trading vehicles through auction has grown into a dedicated buying and selling channel for the car industry. And, with that, supporting industries such as vehicle transport have both tuned their processes and matured in their approach to handling transport with minimal inconvenience.

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Customer Success Story

Why Car Transport Services Exists Today!

When I had to move my car from Melbourne to Perth, the journey of finding the right transportation service felt almost as daunting as the 3,400 km drive itself. Through trial and error, a bit of luck, and a few missteps, I learned a great deal about how to select the best service for such a task. Here’s my experience, and I hope it can guide you smoothly through your own process.

Start with Research

The first thing I learned was the importance of research. Initially, I made the rookie mistake of choosing the first service that popped up in my Google search results. Big mistake. The company had hidden fees I hadn’t anticipated, and the service was far from satisfactory. What I learned was to dig deeper. Read reviews on multiple platforms, ask for recommendations from friends or family who’ve undertaken similar moves, and don’t skip on checking the forums where real customers discuss their experiences.

Check for Licensing and Insurance

One good decision I made was ensuring the company was licensed and insured. Insurance is important. Transporting a vehicle across such a long distance has its risks, and you want to ensure that your car is covered in case of any mishaps. Verify the transporter's accreditation with transport authorities and ensure they have valid insurance that covers your vehicle during the transit. This gave me peace of mind, knowing my car was in safe hands.

Compare Quotes

Getting multiple quotes was another area where I initially faltered. I assumed all prices would be roughly the same and didn’t bother shopping around. However, after a pricey quote from the first company, I decided to get several more. The price differences were significant, and some companies offered more comprehensive services at lower costs. Always compare quotes from at least three to five companies. This not only gives you a better idea of the price range but also allows you to negotiate better terms.

Understand the Service Types

I wasn’t aware initially, but there are different types of car transport services: door-to-door, terminal-to-terminal, open carrier, and enclosed carrier. Each has its pros and cons. I chose an open carrier for its cost-effectiveness, but in retrospect, considering the long journey across Australia, an enclosed carrier would have been better to protect my car from the elements. Understanding these options beforehand helps in making a more informed decision based on your needs and budget.

Communication is Key

One of the best decisions I made was selecting a company that had excellent communication practices. They provided updates at every major juncture of the journey, which eased my anxiety. Ensure that the company you choose has a point of contact who is reachable and willing to update you throughout the process. This is vital for peace of mind and to ensure that any issues are quickly addressed.

Timing and Flexibility

I learned the hard way that flexibility is key when transporting a car such a long distance. The initial service I chose promised a delivery within a week, but it ended up taking more than two weeks, which disrupted my plans significantly. Ask about the expected delivery times and check if the company can offer guarantees or compensation if they exceed the estimated delivery times.

Avoid Rush Decisions

A bad decision I made was rushing into booking without fully understanding the terms and conditions. This led to unexpected charges for additional services I wasn’t aware I had agreed to. Take your time to read the fine print or have someone else review it. Make sure you understand every aspect of the service contract.

What I Wish I Knew

If I knew then what I know now, I would have placed more emphasis on checking customer feedback about their post-service experience, especially regarding how companies handle damage claims and disputes. Knowing a company's track record in these areas can save you from potential headaches if something goes wrong.

Open vs Enclosed Car Transport

Open car carrier with new vehicles

Open Car Transport

Open car transport involves shipping vehicles in an open-air trailer, exposing them to weather and road conditions.

This method is cost-effective and widely available, making it a popular choice for transporting vehicles quickly and economically.

The main benefits include lower costs due to multiple vehicles being transported simultaneously and quicker delivery times. However, the downside is the potential risk of damage from environmental elements and road debris.

moving cars in an enclosed car carrier

Enclosed Car Transport

Enclosed car transport uses fully enclosed trailers to provide maximum protection for vehicles against weather, theft, and damage during transit.

This method is preferable for high-value, classic, or luxury vehicles requiring extra security. Enclosed transport is more expensive and less readily available but offers higher insurance coverage and peace of mind.

Specialised services include GPS tracking and expert handling, ensuring vehicles are delivered safely and discretely.

Find out more