group of people buying a car at an estate sale

4 Dangers of Buying a Car at an Estate Sale

An estate sale can be a good place to buy a car without the hassle of going to a dealership. Many of these sales are run by professional companies that specialize in such events, making for an orderly transfer of property.

However, as with any other time you buy a car, do some research and understand the car market before putting down any money. Failure to prepare could lead to a poor purchase.

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As-Is Purchase

Most cars sold at an estate sale are used and sold “as-is.” Once you buy the car, you own it, even if it later breaks down. To help avoid problems, have the car inspected by a mechanic, if possible. If a seller is reluctant to give you information about the car’s history, this might be a red flag that you should avoid the purchase.


Some cars sold at estate sales have prices fixed by the seller, while others are auctioned by a professional estate seller. If you don’t understand the market conditions for the car you want to buy, you might end up paying too much.

With a fixed sale, the seller could be asking too high of a price; at an auction, a frenzy among buyers could push the price above what you want to pay. If you aren’t disciplined at sticking to a price you have researched to be fair, you might get swept up in paying too much for the car.


At an auction sale, the auction company generally tacks on a fee to any item sold. If you aren’t aware of this fee before you buy the car, you might end up paying more for the vehicle than you intended. In some cases, however, the seller may pay the fee. Understand the terms of the estate sale before you buy anything.


You might have to pay cash to buy a car at an estate sale. You may not have to physically carry tens of thousands of dollars to the sale, although in some cases you might. Either way, you won’t get your vehicle until your method of payment clears.

While some large estate sales run by professionals may be able to process credit card payments, never assume that is the case. Private estate sales are often just a way for people to get cash for items they plan to leave behind while moving. Check the terms of the sale before buying anything and make sure you have enough cash if necessary.

About Author

Collin Whittaker

My name is Collin and I am the editor and founder of My Used Car Blog. A little bit about my background – I’ve been an automotive technician for 10 plus years and I have worked for companies like Honda, Nissan, and other major automotive repair shops. I am a husband and a dad to three beautiful kids. My reason for starting this blog/website stems from my love and passion for the automotive industry. I will provide expert and insightful information from my years of experience.

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