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Can You Really Buy a Car on Copart?

Copart Inc. logo visible on a smartphone as well as on a white wall background is an online-only auto auction company that sells salvage and clear title cars, trucks, and more. The process might sound daunting at first, especially to those who have never purchased a vehicle online before. It’s important to note that Copart is strictly for salvage cars only, but buying one could save you a lot of money in the long run if you’re willing to put in the work.

Copart is the perfect online car purchasing platform for those who are looking to buy a new or used car. You can view available cars and make a purchase from the comfort of your own home. Plus, you can use Copart to find deals on cars that are just right for your needs!

As of right now, Copart has over 200 locations worldwide and tens of thousands of vehicles available for sale each week. To purchase a vehicle on Copart, all you need is your own membership account which can be created on their website. Knowing how to use Copart and what it is can help get the car you want at the price you want!

What is Copart?

So, what is Copart? Simply put, Copart is an online car auction company. The cars on our site come from all over the globe, including vehicles that have been totaled by insurance companies or impounded by law enforcement. In the United States, one of our most popular and consistent sources of inventory is the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Aerial view of an auto auction yard lot with multiple vehicles visible parked next to each other

Copart also auctions cars that have been damaged in fires or floods. Additionally, we provide a marketplace for sellers to unload cars that other buyers don’t want anymore or aren’t running properly. If a seller wants to get rid of their car quickly and without much hassle, they can sell it on where thousands of bidders are looking for their dream car every day!

When you buy a vehicle from us, you can take it home as soon as the next day! When your purchase is complete, you’ll receive paperwork in an email that instructs you on how to pick up your car at its location. When you arrive onsite and bring your paperwork with you (either printed or displayed on your phone), someone there will retrieve the vehicle and walk it out to where you’ve parked

What Cars go to Copart?

The types of vehicles you can buy vary wildly. Copart has a vast inventory of over 125,000 vehicles. Auctions include cars, trucks, SUVs, RVs, boats, ATVs, and motorcycles. Vehicles are sourced from insurance companies, banks, and private sellers. There are even things like buses and forklifts that go up for sale at Copart auctions.

There are two main types of vehicles sold at Copart: repairable salvage vehicles and clean title vehicles. Repairable salvage vehicles typically have been damaged in an accident or need repairs due to a mechanical problem (like a blown engine) or other issues like hail damage or flood damage. Clean title vehicles usually have not been damaged in an accident but may or may not have other issues like hail damage or flood damage that may be disclosed in the vehicle description (or listed as unknown).

How Does the Copart Car Bidding Process Work?

The bidding process for a Copart auction starts out with the seller posting a price for the vehicle. The seller indicates whether or not the vehicle title is clean, salvage, certificate of destruction, or unknown.

The bidding begins at that price and continues until there are no more bids or until the end of the auction. At some point during this process, you’ll see a “Bid Now” button appear on your screen. You can click on this to enter your bid. If you do, you will be told how much each bidder has bid as well as how many bids they have placed so far in that auction.

Copart description of business visible on a smartphone with the stock chart of CPRT visible in the background

Once all bidders have placed their bids, the bidding will end and everyone will be notified of the outcome of that auction in one way or another (email, text message, phone call). The Copart bidding process is relatively simple, as long as you’re familiar with how it works. Let’s review the basics:

  • You need to be a registered Copart member in order to place a bid on their website. If you’re planning to buy cars regularly, you’ll probably want to invest in one of their memberships (Bronze or Silver). Otherwise, you can bid online for free but only if the car is $400 or less.
  • You can’t see the number of other bids currently placed on vehicles during an auction—Copart only lists the minimum bid increment and the highest bid so far. This increases competition since there’s no way of knowing exactly what your competition is bidding.
  • You will be outbid if another bidder places a higher maximum bid than yours before the auction ends. Your maximum bid is kept hidden from other bidders unless it’s reached by someone else before your maximum is exceeded by someone else.

How to Bid on a Vehicle on Copart

The first step to bidding on a car at Copart is to create an account. You’ll see a “Register” link near the top of the page. Click that and follow the prompts to create your account. You can choose to open an individual or business account.

Copart bidding visualization live in process on both a desktop interface as well as a smartphone
Live bids can be placed via a web browser or smartphone

The next step will be for you to enter your personal information including your name, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to input your billing information including your credit card number, expiration date, and CVV code. Once all of that’s done—congratulations! Your account has been created! Now you’re ready to start bidding on cars.

Bidding on cars is a great way to show your interest in the vehicle and get a good price. When you’re bidding, make sure that you are clear about what you want and how much money you think the car would be worth. You can also ask other people for their opinion before making your decision.

Copart Buy it Now Rules

As a part of selling the vehicle, Copart has an option to Buy It Now. This means that the buyer won’t have to wait for the paperwork to be completed, and there will be no auction-style bidding. The buyer simply pays the amount of the car’s value plus fees and gets it immediately.

If you’re selling a vehicle with a Buy It Now option and you don’t want to sell it immediately, you can cancel your Buy It Now bid. You can do so by going to your account settings page and clicking on “Buy It Now” next to the vehicle that has an option for Buy It Now.

Copart buy it now page showing a featured vehicle as well as a link to view inventory

The rules are the same on all vehicles, whether or not they have a Buy It Now price. To buy a vehicle without bidding, follow these steps:

  • Make sure no one has bid on the vehicle yet. If someone else has already placed a bid, you will have to bid in order to win the car auction.
  • Once you are ready to pay, hit the “Buy Now” button and confirm your purchase by pressing “Purchase” again. You will be charged for your Buy-It-Now purchases immediately upon winning an auction. Please note that you will still have to pay the Copart fees and shipping costs associated with your purchase.
  • Be aware that if you buy a salvage title car from Copart, you might not be able to register it right away. You need an established title in order to register any vehicle in most states — so if you don’t yet have a title for your newly purchased salvage title car, check out our services page or contact us directly so we can get one for you!

What are the Costs Associated with Buying a Car on Copart?

The cost of buying a vehicle on Copart is more than just the amount you paid for the truck or car. If you are outbid, you have lost nothing. However, if your bid is accepted and you become the new owner of a vehicle, there will be some additional costs to cover.

You need to pay for the car itself. After all, Copart isn’t eBay—you aren’t bidding on an auction item and then deciding whether or not to buy it at the winning price.

The Copart fees include:

  • Buyer fees (non-refundable)
  • Seller fees
  • Storage fees (varies by location)
  • Document fee ($80)
  • Transportation fee ($99-$200)
  • Sales tax (varies by location)

What happens if you win a bid on Copart and don’t pay?

If you win a bid on Copart and don’t pay, your account will be penalized and could even be banned. Additionally, you may lose the opportunity to bid on other vehicles in the future. If you decide that you no longer want to purchase a vehicle after winning the bid, it is imperative that you contact Copart immediately.

Buyers who do not pay for their purchases are at risk of being sued by Copart and/or having a cancellation fee applied to their account. Play by the rules, keep your word and pay for anything that you purchase from an auction site like Copart.

Copart auto auction member terms and conditions
Copart Membership Terms and Conditions

Let’s talk about what happens when people don’t actually follow through on their winning bid after the vehicle lot is closed and it’s time to pay up. According to their website, this has happened “on hundreds of occasions” since 2000. The website shows how some bidders have gotten into trouble by not paying up as promised:

  • One buyer repeatedly bid on cars and didn’t pay for any of them. The account was flagged to a ‘non-payer’ status which means they can close down your account.
  • Another guy didn’t realize that there were auction fees because Copart takes a percentage of the sale. He refused to pay the fees which ultimately lead to him rejecting the vehicle and simply walking away causing a hassle for the seller and Copart to re-list the vehicle.
  • A prospective buyer used a third-party Copart dealer that can bid on their behalf but then realized he didn’t have the money which basically puts the automotive licensed Copart member bidding on their behalf in a difficult position. Usually, there is a vetting process to make sure a buyer has the necessary funds if they’re going to be bidding on someone’s behalf.

The bottom line: If you win a bid on Copart and then change your mind about buying the vehicle, contact Copart immediately so that they know not to expect payment from you.

Can you drive a car from Copart?

You can arrange your own pick-up of the vehicle you won at Copart Auto Auction or use a 3rd party company that Copart recommends on their website.

While it’s most certainly possible to pick up your vehicle and attempt to drive it, I would highly advise against it for several reasons. First, you’d need to instantly insure it. Secondly, either you need a temporary tag or a dealer’s license plate.

A silver car wrecked in the front at a salvage auto auction yard

The third reason why I’d recommend not to drive it straight from the auction yourself is that even if the listing said, ‘run-n-drive’ it doesn’t mean it’s actually in driveable condition. There could be serious safety issues that would need to be addressed first before the car can be driven on public roads.

I knew an instance where someone won a car at a nearby Copart Auto Auction and then assumed because it looked good and the listing said it was ‘run-n-drive,’ that they should’ve been able to make it home. When they brought the vehicle out, it barely drove a few feet due to it being in limp mode.

Can you return the Car to Copart?

Copart does not have any type of return or refund policy. All vehicles are sold “as-is.” In fact, vehicles on Copart’s auction site specifically state “No Return” under the vehicle description. No matter the reason, you won’t be able to return a vehicle after purchasing it.


If you are looking for a great deal on a car, Copart is the place for you. However, be sure to do your homework before you bid on any cars. It’s important to know that the cars are sold “as is” so if there are any issues with the vehicle, it will be up to you to fix them.

Also, be aware of what kind of repairs your mechanic can do and how much they might cost as this will help you determine if the car will still be a good deal after repairs or not. Once everything checks out, though, then it is time to rejoice! You have just gotten yourself one of the best deals possible on a car.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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