How to Auction Your Car for the Best Price

Selling your vehicle can be stressful, annoying and, in many instances, flat-out exhausting. You never know who to trust, and often you aren’t getting full market value for it. Have you ever considered selling your vehicle via auction? It’s a quick and easy way to sell your car fast. You’re exposing your vehicle to a competitive buying environment by selling through a public auction sale. We handle the negotiations based on the price and vehicle info you provide to us — while you sit back and wait for it to sell.

Some people are apprehensive about the idea of selling their vehicle at auction. This may be because auto auctions were once believed to be most suitable for used car sellers, leasing companies, and fleet management firms. Do not be discouraged by this. Car auctions are perfect if you want a quick sale and are struggling to sell your vehicle privately. Before diving into how to maximize the return you can get for your car at an auction, you should first determine the market value of your vehicle and ensure that an auction is your best option to make a vehicle sale. Investigate the various Calgary car auctions and determine which company is the ideal fit for you. To fully understand if the auction channel is the right one to sell your vehicle, you should carefully review the commission fees, terms and conditions put in place by the vehicle auction.

Getting the Best Price for Your Car in an Auction

Sweat the Minor Details

Minor details are essential when it comes to selling your car at an auction. If possible, ensure that all cosmetic flaws have been fixed correctly and that the vehicle looks as good as it possibly can. In addition to addressing cosmetic flaws, check that all mechanical and electrical systems and tires are in good condition.

Vehicle Cleanliness

First impressions are everything when it comes to selling your car. From our 25 years of experience in the car auction industry, people tend to lean towards the vehicle with a clean, polished interior over the one with coffee stains all over the center console and fast food wrappers in the back seat.

Here’s a short checklist of things to remember when preparing to auction your car.

  • Wipe the dashboard, center console, mirrors and the rest of the interior to rid of any dust, stains or debris
  • Dispose of any garbage or personal items
  • Vacuum the carpets and seats
  • Purchase an air freshener to leave in the vehicle. From our experience — more common, recognizable scents tend to be more popular with buyers.

Gather Your Vehicle Documentation

Be sure to gather all relevant service records, receipts, a vehicle history report and other documentation detailing your vehicle to disclose to the auction. We recommend having a pre-purchase inspection that includes an engine compression check. Having all of this communicates to prospective buyers that you are the kind of caring owner they want to buy their next vehicle from.

High-Quality Pictures & Description

It is important that the car auction uses a professional photographer to make their auction vehicles appear aesthetically pleasing to potential buyers. At the same time, they conduct their research before the auction starts. Include every aspect, including the exterior, wheels, engine, and interior. It’s also a good idea to take photos of the owner’s manual, VIN, and any other accessories the vehicle may have. When writing the description, include every detail about the vehicle, including specific names for the paint and interior colours, features, and additional options.

Determining a Realistic Reserve Price

Cars can be sold with no reserve, which means that the highest bidder receives the car regardless of the bid – however, you can also work with the experts at the auction house to set a realistic price range based on fair market value. Keep in mind that this can be changed before the car auction or even lowered during the live bidding if you choose. If your auction listing doesn’t have any offers after 2-3 weeks, they may recommend that you either lower the reserve price or come and pick up your vehicle. You will also want to factor in the listing fee and auction commission when determining your minimum sale price.

Making Vehicle Declarations

To be completely transparent, you should make declarations for known ownership history, any damage or previous accidents the vehicle has been in. Doing so instills buyer confidence and sends a message to potential buyers that you are an honest seller and care about your vehicle.

When your vehicle is going through the book-in process, you must be fully transparent and declare all issues with the car. Common problems that you’ll want to provide additional information on to avoid an unsuccessful vehicle transaction include:

  • Cosmetic issues
  • Mechanical issues
  • Address any illuminated engine lights
  • Noting if the vehicle does not have its original engine
  • Out-of-province status
  • Any other minor issues

During this process, our industry-savvy staff members will happily work with you and decide the best option for processing and selling your vehicle. Suppose you’re new to the whole process or haven’t been able to find what you’re looking for so far. In that case, we’d recommend looking at our roundup of the most reputable Canadian auction sites, where you can choose from various online auction sites to help you find a solution that fits you.

The Auction Difference

There are multiple reasons to consider utilizing an auction platform to sell your car. Automotive auctions connect you with qualified buyers prepared to pay the most for your automobile. A successful auction company will also have a wide variety of auction inventory to attract more buyers and cultivate a competitive bidding process to maximize the return you can get for your vehicle. You will also have the peace of mind that your vehicle will be stored in our secure auction yard.

Wrapping Up

Selling a car privately is a good option if you want to get top dollar for your vehicle. However, there are some drawbacks that come along with a private sale. Public auctions are a reliable option to sell your vehicle at a reasonable price. We hope this post provided you with the necessary knowledge of how to auction your car and decide whether or not it’s the right option for you. If you’re new to online car auctions and are considering buying, we encourage you to check out our guide covering how to buy a car at an auction.

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Graham Auctions

The team at Graham Auctions is led by folks with over 25 years of experience in the auction industry. We aim to share our expertise to help those who are new to online auctions as well as ignite thought-provoking discussions with experienced bidders.

18 thoughts on “How to Auction Your Car for the Best Price”

  1. Hi Kean! You can always see the cars for sale through our online auction catalogue.

    A quick way that will always take you there would also be by clicking the “Bid Now!” button in the main menu.

    You can also arrange to come in and view them in-person.

    Have a fantastic day!

  2. Hi there,
    I am considering auctioning my car and would like to confirm a few details.
    Would the vehicle need to be registered and insured?
    Do you offer the option to tow the vehicle in (as it is not insured/registered currently)?

    I currently reside overseas (Australia) with no upcoming plans to return due to Covid.
    The vehicle is currently in storage, and therefore is not currently insured. The title has been transferred to my dad’s name, where the car is being stored.

    The car is a 2007 Pontiac G5, 2-door, in great running condition, with some minor rusting on the bottom of one door. It has been involved in one minor accident in 2007 causing body damage only (no impact to the engine). It was professionally repaired through my insurer.

    Any information you can provide would be most helpful. Thank you.

  3. In regards to the above question………does the vehicle need to be insured and registered ?and can they be test driven before making a bid?

    • Hi Shannon!

      Yes, vehicles should be insured and registered before they leave the auction location.

      We also strongly encourage customers to preview and test-drive all vehicles within our secure lot before bidding. This ensures buyers are comfortable with the lots they are bidding on.

      If you have any additional questions please feel free to reach out anytime or check out our frequently asked auction questions page.

      Have a great day!

  4. I’d like to buy a car that I saw , but I wouldn’t be able to pick it up until Tuesday night after work is there a fee for storage for the days? and what is the latest I could pick it up on Tuesday?

    • Hey Robert,

      All vehicles need to be paid for within two business days and picked up during our regular business hours. There are no storage fees, however, if you need to make arrangements to pick the vehicle up at a later date you can do so by contacting our head office at

      Have a great day!

    • Hey Tony,

      The best place to see the cars for sale in our upcoming vehicle auction is through our online auction catalogue which is updated every week!

      Have a wonderful day!

  5. Hi
    I am interested in selling my Jeep. No issues no liens. Can you tell me the process? If I set a reserve will i get more than the reserve price?


    • Hi Jenni,

      Please feel free to give us a call at (403) 777-9393 or reach out to us via email at with any details or pictures if you have them! From there, we can work together to help you sell your your vehicle in the auction, provide advice on setting a reserve or anything else you need.

      Have a wonderful day, and we hope to hear from you soon!

  6. I would like to bring in my vehicle for Saturday’s sale. When is the latest I can bring it in, and how much do I pay if it doesn’t sell on a reserved bid?

    • Hi Laura,

      Vehicles can be brought until 10 AM on the sale day. If the vehicle doesn’t sell, there is no charge!

      Please let us know if you have any questions, or if we can help with anything else!

      Have a fantastic day, and we hope to see you soon!


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