Tips for Buying a Tesla at an Auction

Looking to bid on a Tesla at an auction? Here are some tips to help you score the car of your dreams. With a little research and some patience, you can snag a Tesla for a great price. Read on for our top tips.

Start With Homework

Before heading to a Tesla auction, you must research what’s out there. Begin by exploring what Tesla is the best fit for you. Are you looking for a top-end ca,r like the Model S sedan or Model X SUV? Or will the more moderate Model 3 sedan or Model Y SUV better meet your needs?

There are other considerations, too. Tesla models are available with all-wheel drive and often come with upgrades that give a preference to either range or performance.

This is also the time to look at market value, which is affected by a car’s condition. Explore online car auctions, such as A Better Bid, to see what’s out there. This is also a great way to take advantage of other online resources, like Edmunds and KBB, to help with the process. Of course, if you choose a crashed Tesla, then you’ll want to explore salvage auctions to get a better sense of the market.

Review Auction Terms

While most auctions work the same way, each has its own terms and rules, which cover the bidding process, payment requirements, and pickup conditions. Take the time to review what’s required of each bidder to avoid any surprises during and after the auction. Online auto auctions may have their own unique policies, too.

Take a few minutes to review auction fees, including the buyer’s premium (what the winning bid pays in addition to the vehicle sale price—this may be a percentage or a flat rate). The auction will also charge processing fees to handle the paperwork and other administrative tasks.

In general, expect that a winning bidder is required to pay in full within one to two business days following the auction close. Get familiar with the auction’s funding requirements, as some will only accept a bank wire transfer, while others may also deal with cash or credit card payments. Have the funding ready to go before bidding, so there are no delays if you win.

Further, you’ll have a set number of days to pick up the vehicle and arrange shipping. Most auction houses can assist with transportation. Failure to pay or pick up on time can result in penalties and storage fees. In some cases, this inaction may get a bidder banned from future auctions.

Set a Budget

Before getting involved in an in-person or online Tesla auction (or any auction), set a budget and stick to it. It’s easy to get caught up in bidding excitement, but overpaying can quickly turn a dream car into a nightmare. This financial ceiling should include the cost of the vehicle, auction fees, transportation charges, and estimated repair outlays.

It’s also a good idea to budget for operating costs. With a Tesla, costs can include recharging expenses, installation of a home charging station, and insurance. Tesla’s policies about transferring subscriptions (such as for Full Self-Driving mode) from previous owners can be uncertain, so it’s best to plan on spending money here, too.

Practice Makes Perfect

Participating in a Tesla auction is an exciting opportunity, but before diving in 100%, consider attending a few Tesla auctions as an observer. You’ll still need to register (covered below), but this is a small price to pay to gain experience before plunking down real money.

Taking this step will allow you to acquire a better understanding of the auction process and become comfortable with how auction bidding works. You’ll walk away with vital knowledge to make an informed decision about Tesla auction bidding.

Observing an online auction is convenient and won’t take up much time, and you’ll walk away better prepared for a future auction. Attending an in-person auction opens up the opportunity to talk with experts who can share their own experiences with Tesla auctions.

Register Early

Whether you’re joining an auction for a practice run or are ready to bid, you’ll have to register. It’s best not to leave this to the last minute, as you’ll need to present identification and make a refundable deposit. Any delays can cause you to miss out on crucial action, something to avoid, even if you’re observing.

The good news is once you’ve registered with a particular auction, you won’t have to go through the process again. However, you’ll need to place another refundable deposit for each future auction you’re involved with.

Inspect and Investigate

For in-person auctions, you’ll want to arrive early to examine the Tesla’s condition. Online auto auctions may offer on-site inspection periods for the same purpose. At the very least, review the vehicle history report, which may already be available, or, you can make your purchase and carefully look at any photos and videos.

The key thing with this step is to get a better handle on any potential damage, which can be tricky to spot with a Tesla. Much of a Tesla’s components involve sophisticated electronics, elements that can be difficult to inspect for damage. If possible, you’ll also want to determine the condition and capacity of the battery pack.

Determining the working order of a Tesla will help set a maximum bid amount or whether it’s best to skip a particular vehicle.

Bid With Caution

With a budget in mind and experience under your belt, it’s time to bid on a Tesla. Do your best to ignore the excitement in the air. Instead, focus on the task at hand; winning a Tesla auction. Don’t jump in right away; let someone else get things started. It’s important to make measured bids so pricing doesn’t get too high, but don’t hesitate to walk away if the action gets too heated and your price cap is exceeded. There will be other Teslas and other auctions.

Take Care of Business

If you’ve won a Tesla auction, get to work with the payment and transportation arrangements. Your prompt handling of these matters sets a good tone with the auction house and establishes a good relationship that can be helpful in the future.

Wrap-Up: Tips for Buying a Tesla at an Auction

With the right preparation, buying a Tesla at an auction can be a stress-free and fun experience. Remember to go slow to avoid any regrets later on.