rob_lewis UltraDork
9/14/17 11:12 p.m.

Thinking about dropping a used motor in my son's car and rebuilding his over time.  He can continue to use it as we rebuild/build up his.  Used motors are a grand or more, yet Copart (for example) has complete cars for under a grand (buy it now options).  So, seems like I could pick up a wrecked car, even with fees, and have all the parts there and ready for much less cost than buying just a used motor. 

  1. I know in Texas I must be a dealer or use a broker.  Does the same apply to other states (i.e. if the car was being sold in Oklahoma)? 
  2. I know there are broker fees, but I've heard there can be "other" fees?  What do I need to watch for?  If I win a car at say, $1000, could I be stuck with a $2k plus final bill?  Just wondering how to pre-plan for that before diving in.
  3. Since I just want the motor and would scrap the remaining when I was finished, should I care about the title status?  Do I have to do any kind of state registration?  I assume no.
  4. Anyone use online brokers like Auto Bid Master?  Seems like more of an "easy button" option.
  5. I know about Copart and IAAS.  Are there more private party friendly auction houses I should look at? Other options I haven't considered?

From what I've been able to research so far, I would keep it to a auction site withing driving distance (to get a look at the car before buying).  I'll need to have the money ready to go, plus 50% (?) extra for fees.  We'd probably rent a trailer to get it home, so I would have that all planned and ready to go.

What am I missing?  Educate me, please.

I'd like to do a full engine/transmission swap, which would make the wrecked car option even better, cost wise.



Jaynen SuperDork
9/15/17 6:54 a.m.

When I was eyeing a 3/4ton suburban with the 8.1 that ran and drove on copart a couple of weeks ago the car was in Colorado and I was uneligible to bid I looked into the fees. I don't think where you are matters about eligibility its about where the car is and that states laws for that particular item.

That being said I also looked up autobid master and I figured spending about 2k on the car it was going to cost about 1k in fees to copart

300-500 for the member sale fee

60 for the gate fee at the lot

69 for the internet bid fee

Then Autobidmaster was a 250 dollar transaction fee with a 400 dollar deposit which I assume goes to your purchase

This is before calculating any storage fees or transportation fees to actually get the car picked up/delivered to you

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/15/17 7:03 a.m.

Fees, fees, fees.  Know your fees!  

In the past year I have bought 3 cars from IAA.  Here in Ohio, they allow sales to Private Buyers.  As long as I understand the fees, I have gotten 3 very good deals.  

Private Buyer fee schedule: 

So, just to run an example:  

  • Bid $800 for the car
    • $270 buyers fee
    • $39 internet bid fee (I'd rather not spend the time going to the live event)
    • $59 pull out/load fee (yes, more BS fee on every car) 
    • $1,168 total price.  As you see, it adds up quickly!  

What I bought:

  • '02 Avalon for $375 turned into $583.  Now at $1,470 as a very solid daily driver. 
  • '01 Montero for $1,300 turned into $1,758. Now at $2,100 and took on vacation for 1,500 miles total with wife and kid.  
  • '09 Vibe for $1,975 turned into $2,533. I added about $500 in small repairs to the Vibe and sold it 5 days after listing it. Sale price of  $4,700.  I could have maybe held out for $500 more but I was happy with the quick return.  

What I find is there are very few sub-$500 cars (real cash outlay.)  At my events an online bidder from Convey, GA (home of Pull-A-Part which has a yard here) bids about $200 on EVERYTHING.  Anything over $225...

  • $225 bid
  • $120 buyer fee
  • $29 internet fee
  • $59 gate/load fee
  • $433 minimum total

Oh, I also had to pay IAA $200 per year to be a credentialed Private Buyer.   My local Cleveland Auction is every Tuesday.  That means that Monday is inspection day.  From 8:30-4:30 you can enter the yard to see and touch the cars.  I bring a jumper box and a code reader.  They do not allow you to come in with "tools".  All the keys are present.  You can start the cars but you can not drive them.  I do however drop them into drive and move a few inches and then reverse and move a few inches.  Not allowed to jack up the car either.  

The cars have to be paid for in 2 days (with a certified bank check) or they hit you with fees.  The cars have to be removed in 4 days or they hit you with fees.  All the cars I bought were listed as Run and Drive and I drove them all home right from the yard (w/o plates for the 20 minute drive) but with titles in hand from the yard.  I showed up at the yard the day after the auction with a certified check and drove the cars right home.   

Here is some in-depth on the Montero and Avalon which I won on the same day.  


John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/15/17 9:28 a.m.

I have some more time so here's some more thoughts....  

Fees: What I linked are the Public Fees.  I do not know what IAA's Dealer Fees are.  I will bet that there is some sort of volume schedule to the dealer fees.  Also, more likely, at the Major Account level like a Pull a Part type, national buyer, I'll bet the fees are directly negotiated in a separate contract.   I can't believe that PAP is paying what I am.  On the other hand, PAP does a nice "favor" for the auction of driving all prices toward a load of fees if someone then outbids PAP.  The only thing I feel sure of is that it is not a level playing field.  

As I mentioned, I have bought 3 car (and 2 in the same week) however, In the past 16 weeks since I got involved, I bet I have only missed 3 weeks of Inspection Day.  I've seen a lot of crap and I've seen a lot of crap sell for crazy high prices.  

Using the website, I'll review the pictures and maybe each week save about 10 cars that I add to my favorites.  Monday I see them and make some notes.  By this time I have likely done some research and understand how much dollars I might have to spend to make the car sell-able or drive-able if it's something i'll keep.   You can pre-bid up to 1 hr before the live auction happens.  I tend look at the pre-bid on Tues morning.  Most often the bidding has already exceeded my "comfort zone" so I do not bid.  I have seen a lot of crap sell for way too much.  At least exceeding my skill level or resource level.  On the cars still in my comfort zone I will then throw on a "max bid". Bidding moves in $25 increments and like ebay, only goes as high as it has to.  My winning bid of $1,300 on the Montero really had a $1,375 max bid.  Someone else must have bid $1,275 and that was trumped by my $1,300 auto-bid.  

I mentioned that from the internet photos I might be interested in 10 cars per week.  I can't stress enough that I will often arrive with a thought that "this is my #1 choice" and then upon actually touching the car my thoughts go to, "I wouldn't want this even if you gave it to me."  Simultaneously,  vehicles that i only had a mild interest in have risen to the top of my desire.  The Montero is an example of that.  Vibe too.     

Checking my account I see that there have been 9 cars I have bid on and lost.  In two cases, I lost the cars only by $25 so one other person raised me one time.  I often do not have the time to watch the auctions happen live.  This is also not to say that had I answered the other guys bid, he might have kept going up another couple of hundred dollars.  More commonly, the bidding has exceeded me by $400-$500 on sub $2k final bids. 

Jaynen SuperDork
9/15/17 9:39 a.m.

Thats some great info John. I had desires of turning a gen 3 montero into a real dakar style off roader.

tuna55 MegaDork
9/15/17 10:49 a.m.

Thanks for the info, I have been looking hard at these. Especially clear titles with hail damage.


Any notes for someone thinking arrive and drive with a flight to get there? Obviously you cannot inspect them personally, but stuff I want is rarely local enough.


So, can we pay our friendly GRM buddy to bid for us to avoid the $200 fee, or is that sort of straw man purchase frowned on?


I heard a rumor that you absolutely needed to tow the car off the lot, even if you were driving it home. Is that true?

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman Dork
9/15/17 10:55 a.m.

In reply to tuna55 :

I have seen people put dealer tags on and drive away at copart. Their policy states that the car must be towed off the lot. 

Copart has fees just like John said with the IAA.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/15/17 11:20 a.m.
tuna55 said:

So, can we pay our friendly GRM buddy to bid for us to avoid the $200 fee, or is that sort of straw man purchase frowned on?


I heard a rumor that you absolutely needed to tow the car off the lot, even if you were driving it home. Is that true?

If you are asking me, yes, I would bid on a car for you, but...  

If I then as a Private Buyer bought the car I would have to pay Ohio Sales Tax on the car to genuinely get it into my name before I could sell it to you. Here that is 6.75% so a $2k car would add $135 to the transaction.  At $3k that would be $202.50 in added taxes.  You would be better off just fronting the annual fee of $200.  

The auction house does not leave the titles "Open".  Rather they add my name to the title before I take delivery.  If they would not then it would make it easier so that I would not have to clear it out of my name before putting it in your name.  As you guess, they are following the rules and making it hard for that "straw sale."  

We have a dealer here who has done "dealer only" purchases for me at $150 min added fee (maybe more is higher purch price)  In my case it was about 10%. 


I drove all three cars right from the parking lot.  I had to pay a "fee" which would have included them fork lifting the car onto a trailer but I had them put the car right on the ground.  Every week I see cars driven off via dealer tags.  Now, should I be driving it?  Probably not, at least not salvage title cars which in the eyes of the state are not road worthy.  Clear title, which the Vibe was; no problem.   

Ohio loophole that I found:  When I leave the auction house I have a bill of sale and a title.  The title is stamped Salvage.  When I prove to the state at my inspection appt that the car is good then that title is replaced with a title stamped Rebuilt (good to go for plates and be on the road.)

However, in Ohio, you can get a 45 day Temp Tag off just a bill of sale.  This is intended for instances where the car you bought has a previous loan on it and it may take 45 days for that loan to be paid and the genuine clear title to arrive to you.  Nowhere on my IAA Bill of Sale does it say salvage but does have the VIN and other needed details.  I only bring in the Bill of Sale and walk out with temp tags.   Before those tags expire, I get the car inspected and approved for real plates.   

tuna55 MegaDork
9/15/17 11:45 a.m.

Got it, so straw purchases are a bad call. What about just the general idea of a long distance arrive and drive? Are the cars generally good when they say they are clear title and said to run and drive? I think this would be especially useful if it was obvious why it was there, like aforementioned hail damage.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/15/17 12:03 p.m.

Its a crap shoot.  As I tried to stress above, I arrive thinking one car will be great and leave seeing that it is crap.  I would not feel comfortable relying on the pictures.  I drive them home 20 miles knowing that I have help and resources in the area if needed.  I would not want to drive farther on just the faith that they are good.  

My run & drive Avalon required brake pumping to work the brakes.  Sort of scary.  Needed an ABS pump. 

sleepyhead Reader
9/15/17 2:04 p.m.

Thanks for this John... I've also been toying a little bit with the idea of picking up one of the Denver hail cars for the OneLap 2018 project... mainly because I've got a friend in Golden that might be willing to let me drop a car at the house to pick up and drive from... but I probably need to raise my wrenching game first frownlaugh

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/15/17 2:23 p.m.

The Infiniti Q45 #2 was a hail damaged car out of Littleton, CO but I knew it had zero brakes also so I had it shipped.  $600 brought it 1200 miles right to my front door. 

I knew it had zero brakes because I originally tried to buy the car from the original owner if he kept it after the insurance claim. The insurance company wanted $2,800 to keep it so we let it go to auction. The auction house only listed it as having mechanical  damage as well as hail damage .  Could be engine or trans, etc.

$900 won it and all it needed was a $42 master cylinder!  

Actually, bidding ended at $500 but that did not meet State Farm's hidden reserve so State Farm countered at $900 and I accepted. 


EDIT: I bought a 2003 Subaru Legacy wagon at auction. I am attempting to chronicle the experience over here...


EDIT: My Most recent:  2010 Mercury Milan

Jaynen SuperDork
9/15/17 3:45 p.m.

The straw man is essentially exactly what the brokers are. To be honest once you take into account

Time off work, Gas ,Hotels to stay in ,and Airfare

most fly and drives won't make a lot of sense when you can ship a car coast to coast for 1,000 bucks or less. The Suburban I did not bid on went for less than 2k, had a mismatched fender and was dirt but all in with shipping I think I would have had less than 3500 into it and that was an EASY 5k+ car to sell here in NC once it was cleaned up maybe even with a salvage title but this one may not have been salvage. But driving a bought and not seen in person 8mpg big block suburban across the country could easily be much more expensive.

I really want to try this because IAAI has the raleigh location in clayton and copart has two locations within an hour of here in Mebane and China Grove which both seem to handle a ton of cars

sleepyhead Reader
9/15/17 8:07 p.m.

# meh #

I've done a fly and drive from Dallas to Dulles to pick up someone else's car, and drove back an answer that had no cruise control.
I'd do that trip again in a heart beat.... although it wasn't an auction pick up.

But, the point being, sometimes a trip like this can be covered under "getting to see a friend I don't often get to see", and "get some time alone on the road".  Cold financial logic is useful sometimes, but often falls short of quantifying all the reasons for doing something.  Risk, Reward, Failure, Adventure... they need be considered as well.

There's also an element of aspiring to being the kind of person that I can drop in on a car, do a couple fixes and be on the road... although I'm no where near being that person right now.  But, feeling out these things help me identify paths to thinking through how to attain my ultimate goals.

All that being said, it's informative to get these kinds of first-hand experiences to build foundations on.  So, thanks John: for this one, and your previous "how I ship cars" in the G20 thread.

Jaynen SuperDork
9/27/17 6:58 a.m.

I've been watching some cars roll through and haven't pulled the trigger on anything yet. Here are some recent values on run and drive cars locally for me

2004 Mazdaspeed Miata 2300, needed a bumper and a fender and had a crease in the rear but looked driveable

2002 Acura RSX Type-S 925, looked pretty straight just had steelies on it and mismatched body panels

2007 Mazda 3 650, very little damage

2008 Toyota Prius 3000, main damage was a door/side hit but seemed mostly contained to the door itself

2014 Camaro 2SS 11000, main damage was door/side hit

2004 Yukon 875, no damage but high mileage 280k

I also saw a run and drive lightly damaged Taurus sell pure sale for a 125 bucks

Jaynen SuperDork
10/4/17 8:23 a.m.

I've noticed prius seem to go for 3k min and are getting bid on a lot by areas around NJ my guess is taxi companies are scooping up drivable salvage title ones to make into cabs

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/27/19 6:33 p.m.

I'm just popping in to mark this for later perusal. Thanks for the leg work already done, folks.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
1/27/19 7:11 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

Are you versed in the ways of The Watchlist?  

At the very top of this thread you will see some icons for Facebook and Twitter.  In that row of icons, the first icon is an eyeball.  Click on that eyeball and the thread will be added to your Watchlist.  

To retrieve your Watchlist, find the drop down box on most pages titled "Jump To..."  In this Jump To menu the fourth choice is "Watchlist".  Click on there and immediately you will find all the threads you are watching.  

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/28/19 7:39 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

You, Sir, are most helpful.

For that, i offer thanks. It is good to have a guide through the madness.

(Edit: useless thread deleted because the knowledge is here in a previously  created thread-Thank You Mr. Welsh, GRM, and CM)

For the record, I'm shopping donors, not cars to fix. Great info for all, though.


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