Auctions can often be a great place to look for a car or truck under $1000. Local public auctions are generally advertised in the newspaper or on the radio. Dealer, wholesale and estate auctions are also good local sources. Online auctions can be found on Co Part, craigslist, and eBay.
Co Part requires registration on their site to participate in their auctions. They publish their scheduled Virtual Sales (auctions) and allow you to preview vehicles online prior to bidding.
Inspect the vehicles on the day on the auction or on the specified inspection day if one is scheduled. Know what you're looking for before you go to the auction. Allow one to two hours to check the car(s) over the inside and out. Check the mileage, lights, radio, upholstery, windows, trunk or any special features. Do your research prior to viewing the vehicle so you know exactly what to look out for and to see if it is going to properly suit your needs. Look for stickers that indicate if there is a clear title or that the vehicle is drivable.
The most important thing to remember when bidding is a predetermined amount you're willing to pay for the vehicle you choose. It's easy to get caught up in the bidding and end up paying more than you wanted.
You should asses the value of your target vehicle before the auction. You can do this with the help of online pricing guides like National Auto Dealer's Association, Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds. Look up similar vehicles on eBay to see the starting bids and final price. Local dealer websites may be helpful as well. You can get a good idea of what similar vehicles are selling for retail that way.
You should read the conditions of the sale before you buy. If you don't pay for or take possession of the vehicle after your winning bid there could be penalties.
Good luck on your first or next auction experience!