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Where do dealers get their vehicles and used cars? 

Discover where used car dealers get cars, from auctions to trade-ins and direct purchases, with pros and cons for each method to help you grow your stock.

Ever wondered how car dealers always seem to have just the car you're looking for? Whether it's brand new or used, there's a whole process behind how those cars end up at the dealership. 

This article will take you behind the scenes to show you where used car dealerships get their cars and give you some used car sourcing strategies. 

How dealerships source used cars in Europe

Finding the right used cars for your dealership’s inventory is a mix of a treasure hunt and experience. 

Dealers have several ways to find these cars, and each method comes with its own set of advantages.

Favorite option of most traders - Online used car auctions

Online auctions are a favorite for many car dealers to grow their used car inventories. The reason is quite obvious - dealers love these because they find a huge variety of cars from different places, all without leaving their office.

It's a convenient way of getting used cars for your dealership and offers lots of choices, but you need to know what the cars are really worth to make smart bids, and how to import cars from one country to another.

Placing a bid on eCarsTrade is easy with the estimation price calculator

Other car traders 

Sourcing cars directly from other car traders or car companies is another effective strategy dealers use to maintain their inventory. 

This method involves purchasing vehicles directly from other businesses within the automotive industry, including independent traders, dealership networks, and car manufacturing companies looking to sell older models or cars they got through trade-ins. 


Trade-ins are when someone brings their old car to the dealership as part of the payment for a new one.

It’s a win-win situation: the dealership gets a new car sale and a used car to sell, and the customer gets a discount on their new car.

You have to be smart about pricing these trade-ins, though. You need to offer enough to make the customer happy but not so much that you can’t make a profit when you sell the car.

Leasing companies

Companies or organizations need to sell off their cars after a certain number of years of use.

These could be cars that were used by employees or rental cars that are being replaced.

Leasing companies can be a goldmine for dealers because the cars are often well-maintained and come with complete service records.This makes them attractive for dealers because they know these cars were looked after.

Repaired damaged vehicles

Some dealers specialize in buying cars that have been in accidents or have some damage, fixing them up, and then selling them.

This can be a good way to get cars at a lower price, and sell them for a profit after doing a few repairs. Check out our guide to repairing minor damage on used cars.

eCarsTrade offers more than just vehicles - Support, guidance and knowledge

When it comes to sourcing cars, eCarsTrade is full of all sorts of used cars. And we’re not just a place where you can buy vehicles - we have developed a full support system for our clients. 

We offer advice, answer questions, and even help with logistics, like organizing the delivery of your cars to your location of choice within the EU. 

With the help of detailed photos, appraisal reports and guidance from your personal Account Manager, you will learn how to bid and make informed decisions without having to inspect every car in person. 

Choosing the best option: Pros and cons

Deciding on the best way to source cars for a dealership involves weighing the pros and cons of each method. 

Online auctions

✅ Online auctions are incredibly convenient. You can access a massive variety of cars from your computer or phone, bidding on vehicles from Europe without having to travel. It’s a great way to find deals, and possibly get a car for less than market value if you make the right offer.

❌ You can’t see the car in person so you’re relying on pictures and descriptions to make your decision. However, you can always run the VIN number through a VIN decoder and check the used car’s’ full history

Other car traders

✅ Negotiating directly with another business allows for more flexible pricing and the potential to secure better deals, especially if buying in bulk.

❌ The downside is it takes time to find and build good relationships with other traders. Success depends heavily on having a wide and reliable network within the industry, which can take time to build.


✅ Trade-ins are a great way to encourage new car sales while also bolstering your used car inventory. A private individual is usually happy to trade their car in from a new one as fast as possible, allowing you to get a car for a potentially very low price.

❌ Valuing trade-ins can be tricky. Offer too little, and you might lose the sale; offer too much, and you could end up with a car that’s hard to sell at a profit. 

Leasing companies

✅ Cars from fleet sales are usually young vehicles that have been well-maintained and they often come with detailed maintenance records.

❌ The models available through fleet sales can be quite uniform, limiting the diversity of your inventory. The leasing company will also set a minimum price in advance, so you won’t have much opportunity for negotiating.

Repaired damaged vehicles

✅ There’s significant profit potential in buying, repairing, and selling damaged vehicles. The profit of this method can be very high, but it’s just a matter of knowing how to repair cars.

❌ This method requires a good understanding of repair costs and the market value of cars. There’s also the risk of uncovering more damage than anticipated, which can impact your profits.



❓What's the most reliable way to source used cars in Europe?

The best way actually depends on your dealership's needs and capabilities. Online auctions are amazing for variety and convenience, while trade-ins provide the benefit of buying a car for a really low price.

❓How can I find damaged vehicles to repair and resell?

Explore online platforms that list salvage or damaged vehicles - here you can often get cars at lower prices due to their condition, so you can repair and resell them at a profit. Make sure you are aware of the repair costs and the vehicle's potential market value after repairs.

❓What should I do if I don't have a lot of money to spend?

Look into trade-ins and purchasing lightly damaged cars from online auctions which you can easily repair. 

❓Can I really properly evaluate a car's condition on eCarsTrade?

Yes, eCarsTrade provide detailed descriptions, high-quality photographs, and appraisal reports for most of the vehicles on the platform. You can perfectly evaluate a car, even if you can't see it in person.

❓How often should I update inventory in my dealership?

Assess your inventory every few weeks, and always stay adaptable and responsive to what your customers want. 

Ready to buy cars? Start bidding in just a few clicks!

Jumping into the world of car buying is now easier than ever. With online platforms, starting your search for the next perfect addition to your dealership inventory is just a few clicks away.

All you need is an internet connection and a keen eye for potential deals. Platforms like eCarsTrade are designed to guide you through the auction process, offering tools and insights to help you make informed decisions.