Online Public Car Auctions in Australia – Types of Sales and Where to Buy

Online car auctions have been gaining in popularity with both of the major Australian car auctioneers, who run regular in-house weekly auctions, now offering online bidding systems to the public. There are many others too.

Online (or bid now) vs simulcast auctions

Simulcast auctions or Pickles Live, are where you’ll be bidding against other online bidders and people in the auction room, in real-time, with items being sold off in sequence to the highest bidder, one after the other until all lots are sold.

During simulcast auctions, the auctioneer and staff will be taking bids from both the online system and from people on the floor who can watch the auctioneer as well as the online bidding screen on a large TV.

Some people like to employ bidding strategies including getting in early with a high bid to scare off other bidders, holding off bidding until the last minute, and so on, with most trying to avoid a bidding war where prices can escalate quickly. Does any of that work? I’m not sure, but, if you get the car for the price you are happy with, then, I guess it did.

A word of caution for online bidders about holding off bidding until the last minute, sometimes, there can be a little lag with the online system and the auctioneer may drop the hammer before seeing your final bid.

Here’s a video introducing Pickles Live

More about Simulcast Car Auctions:
Manheim Simulcast
Pickles Live

Online Car Auctions, sometimes called Bid Now, are a little different. You are bidding against online bidders only, and the auction will likely run over a few days having a defined start date/time and end date/time. That doesn’t mean you can’t inspect the vehicle prior to sale, usually, there will be open times for inspection prior to sale. Just like a real auction, the auction for each item/vehicle will end when the bidding ends. Even if the designated sale end time is 3.00 PM, the sale will keep being extended by a certain amount of time after each bid, usually about five minutes.

Is simulcast better than online or vice versa? In terms of getting the car cheaper, maybe or maybe not. Usually, simulcast features high volume vehicles such as gov, lease, dealer, insurance company etc. while bid now or online auctions feature lower volume vehicles such as dealer trade-ins, clearance, small fleet, and prestige. So it more depends on what price range and type of vehicle you are chasing as to what type of sale you’ll be using.

Where to find online car auctions?

The major online car auctioneers in Australia are Pickles and Manheim having branches in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, Newcastle, Perth, Canberra, and Darwin along with smaller regional branches. Other major online car auctioneers that are open to the public include Slattery Auctions and GraysOnline.

Smaller auctioneers will often have vehicles as part of larger sales so be sure to check in your local area:

ACTNew South WalesQueenslandSouth AustraliaTasmaniaVictoriaWest Australia

Also, keep an eye on our Car Auctions category for auction notices.

Latest auction notices

Upcoming Car Auctions in Melbourne VIC from 11/06/24 - Current and Upcoming Car Auctions in Melbourne Victoria as of 11/06/24. Every week we publish a list of upcoming sales… ...
Upcoming Car Auctions in Perth WA from 11/06/24 - Current and Upcoming Car Auctions in Perth Western Australia as of 11/06/24. Every week we publish a list of upcoming… ...
Upcoming Car Auctions in Adelaide SA from 11/06/24 - Current and Upcoming Car Auctions in Adelaide SA as of 11/06/24. Pickles Auctions - Adelaide SA SalesPickles Adelaide Salvage Vehicles… ...
Upcoming Car Auctions in Brisbane QLD from 11/06/24 - Current and Upcoming Car Auctions in Brisbane QLD as of 11/06/24. Every week we publish upcoming sales taking place in… ...
Upcoming Car Auctions in Sydney NSW from 11/06/24 - Current and Upcoming Car Auctions in Sydney NSW as of 11/06/24. Every week we publish a list of upcoming auto… ...
graphic for upcoming car auction listing page Auction Notices: Upcoming Car Auctions by State > 10/06/24 - Car auctions for the week ahead by state. Auction Finder curates and collates car auction events from Australia's leading auto… ...
Upcoming Auctions at AllBids 09/06/24 - This weeks auctions at Allbids, featuring a range of cars, catering equipment, musical equipment, antiques, vintage and more Visit AllBids… ...

Also, see the Car Auctions category for more.

Be sure to register in advance

You may need to pay a deposit prior to bidding and provide some ID, and once that has all cleared you are free to bid. Bank payments take time to clear, so, you’ll need to complete the registration process in advance of the auction day.

Ebay Private Car Auctions

eBay Motors has the largest volume of listings for private car auctions online in Australia. On eBay, you can find just about anything. One benefit of eBay is that you can communicate with the owner and get more history on the vehicle and even arrange for a test drive or inspection report if the seller is willing.

You also have some right of recourse offered through the eBay and Paypal system although it’s still a case of buyer beware and buying a car sight unseen is a gamble.

Again, most eBay sellers will allow inspection and maybe even test drive, so definitely ask if you can before bidding.

Buyer Tips

Buying online has been very popular with Auto Dismantlers who can bid on cars at salvage auctions without having to leave their place of business. It’s also a bonus for public buyers who maybe can’t make the auction on the day, or maybe live a long way from the auction room.

But of course, it has the obvious downside unless you’ve checked over the car you want on the inspection day, you can only gauge what your buying by looking at pictures that the auction center has taken.

Although both of the auction centers go to great length to provide a reasonable description of the vehicle and supply photos from various angles, it’s just not the same as being there and cars ALWAYS look better in photos than in real life. Always keep that fact in mind.

See here for some more detailed tips on buying a car at auction.

Picking up your car and freight costs

Generally, you will need to pick up your vehicle from the auction not long after the sale completes and payment is finalised. Nowadays, you can not usually drive a car from the auction house and it’s generally not recommended to do so.

Pickles and Manheim both offer freight services, as does GraysOnline through a third-party service. You can also contact local car transport services who can give you a quote for comparison. If you are using an outside carrier, you’ll need to provide them with documentation of sale and sometimes a signed release, do check with the auctioneer in advance as to any special requirements they have. Also, get insurance coverage for your vehicle.

Car haulage costs normally start around $125 and go up depending on the distance.


Rodney is the developer of, with over 30 years experience in the auto trade working with Ford Motor Company, and later I.T. He is a motor mechanic by trade who greatly enjoys restoring the value in used items and returning them to service. He did this for several years, purchasing used cars from Pickles and Manheim auctions, in both Melbourne and Brisbane, carrying out repairs, and finding new homes for them. In his mid-years, he studied Computer Science at the RMIT, began building websites and dabbling in buying bulk lots of computers at auction and sending them out to new homes via eBay and local marketplaces. He also enjoys travel, the outdoors, and the history of ancient empires.

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