Auctionology – A Complete List Of Salvage Auction Terms For Beginners

Auctionology – A Complete List Of Salvage Auction Terms For Beginners

Over time, every trade or profession develops its own lingo or jargon. These are certain special words and phrases known only to people who are familiar with that particular activity. If you are a novice in a field, some of their jargon may not make much sense to you.

Before attending your first auction, it is best if you prepare yourself by learning some salvage auction terms. Salvage car auctions, though very cheap, still involve money. If you don’t know the basic auction terms, you might end up regretting a purchase you make at the auction!

Check out our list of the most commonly used salvage auction terms you will encounter at a public auction in Canada or the United States:

Actual Cash Value or ACV

Whenever a seller submits a car for auction, they have to provide an estimated value of the vehicle to the auction house. This is purely a rough estimate of the retail value of the vehicle make and model in working condition. Don’t mistake this for the actual value of the vehicle, especially if it is damaged. You can look for the ACV of a vehicle at other sources online, like the Canadian Black Book.


Often, car owners will add parts and products to a vehicle after its manufacture and purchase. These can be added either at the dealership during the purchase itself, or later at aftermarket shops and garages.

“As Is”

Probably the most important term to keep in mind while attending a salvage car auction. Unless specified otherwise, all vehicles at auction are sold in the condition they appear in, without any warranty or guarantees. It is a warning to the buyer – if you buy it and then find any hidden damages, you have to keep it.


A skilled manager who oversees the entire auction process. The best auctioneers in US and Canada undergo special training and licensing to become qualified professionals.
At our Edmonton location, we have an award winning auctioneer!

At our Edmonton location, we have an award winning auctioneer!

Auction With Reserve

A seller can decide a minimum price for the vehicle before the beginning of the auction. If nobody matches or exceeds this price during the auction, the seller is free to withdraw the vehicle from the auction.

Bidder Number

An identification number provided to each registered bidder at the auction. Often provided on a “Bidder Badge.”

Black Book

A service that lets you find out the estimated value of a used or pre-owned car. Called Canadian Black Book, it originally started in the US in the 1950s in Georgia. It is commonly used by car dealers and auction buyers alike in Canada. The US-buyers have another choice called Kelley Blue Book, but it is not available for vehicles in Canada.


The spot to which vehicles are brought to be sold via auction.

Buyer’s Fee

This is the fee you will have to pay to the auction house if you place a winning bid on a vehicle at the salvage auction. It will vary depending on the type of the auction.



The auction house employee who handles all the paperwork related to the auction. If you win a bid, you will be asked to sign the appropriate documents by this person.

Closed Auction

The opposite of a public auction, it is often limited to certain dealers or licensed businesses.

If Bid

When the bids do not reach the Reserve Price, the Auctioneer may conditionally sell the Vehicle subject to an If Bid (also called phone bid or confirmation sale). When a Buyer makes an If Bid, the Seller has 24 hours (or other announced time frame) to accept the bid. The bidder may not withdraw the If Bid during the If Bid time frame.


The cars at an auction travel through lanes to reach the auction block. If there are multiple lanes, they are usually labelled using alphabets or numbers.

Late Model

The salvage auction term for a relatively new vehicle, manufactured in recent years. It is often the latest model in that brand’s lineup.

No Reserve

Any car that does not have a set reserve price. It will be sold to any winning bid, regardless of how low it is.


This is short for Non-original motor, and it means exactly what it says – the motor inside the vehicle is not the one it came with from the factory.

No Sale Fee

If you are a seller whose car goes through the auction and does not get sold, you will still have to pay a service fee to the auction house.


The provable history of a vehicle, meaning its ownership over the years and other important details, in the form of official documents and other paperwork. Vehicles with known provenance will have a higher value.


A vehicle that has been returned to something close to its original condition, often using mechanical repairs and cosmetic bodywork. The car has been made to be “like new.”

Reserve Price

This is the salvage auction term for the minimum price the seller is willing to accept for the vehicle at auction.


Also called arena, this is usually the area where the auctioneer sits/stands while he/she offers the vehicles to the bidders at the time of auction.


A person hired by the auction house, who is positioned in the bidder area to assist the auctioneer, spot bidders and assist prospective bidders with information to help them in their buying decision. They work in a team with the auctioneer.

Run & Drive

When vehicle arrived at the auction yard, it was verified that:

-The vehicle could start under its own operation
-Vehicle transmission would shift into gear
-Vehicle can move forward under its own power

Run List

Run lists provide a listing of Vehicles that will be offered for sale and often include useful disclosure and Brand information regarding the Vehicles listed. Buyers are expected to consult the applicable Run List before bidding. Please note that the information in the Run List may be updated or superseded by information announced by the Auctioneer on the block. Declarations contained in Disclosure Information made available prior to sale are not subject to arbitration.


Any vehicle that is so damaged that it is not economical for a dealer or seller to repair it for sale. Vehicles with a salvage title are often damaged in accidents, floods, or fires. They cannot be legally driven on roads without a proper restoration. Salvage cars are often sold for their parts.

The VIN can be easily found on the windshield of a vehicle.


A government-issued document for a vehicle that indicates the name of the owner, and other important details like its legal status, condition, and mileage. All vehicles legally sold at an auction should have a title.

Total Loss

The Vehicle has been declared by an insurer to be a total loss.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

This is a unique number assigned to each vehicle by the manufacturer on the factory floor. The VIN is made up of a combination of 17 letters and numbers. You can find it quickly on the driver’s side, on the corner where the dashboard meets the windshield. It is also mentioned in the insurance card, vehicle title, and registration papers.