Changes in the car auction business have followed the information revolution and the Internet. The two biggest changes are that for one thing, you can use Internet services like Carfax, to check the history of the vehicle you are going to buy in a car auction, or from a used car dealer. This puts at least somewhat of a check to prevent sellers from totally misrepresenting a vehicle.
These questions unfortunately cannot be answered 100-percent accurately by Carfax and other auto records research companies. Cars can be sold and resold on an interstate basis, and there are still opportunities for car records to be disappeared, or disassociated with one of these shifts. Nevertheless, often these car research services work properly.
The other new development is actual car auctions that take place via the Internet. These auctions work by going to a website that is connected to the car auctions. You register with them and then type in what car you want, what make and model, from what year(s) and at what price. The internet auction site will then come up with a number of cars that are being auctioned and the price you want, and then you can decide that you want to buy them. It's that simple. You are also given some minimum sort of 30-day guarantee, that once you get the car, it will actually function. In some case the guarantee could be for as much as 3,000 miles of driving. Of course, you can also use the Car Fax, or alternate services to check on the cars ownership and/or service record before you take possession of it.
Admittedly, it sounds like a flimsy system, that could be abused, but to tell the truth, when you go to a used car dealer's lot, how much do you know about the cars? Unless you are a professional mechanic, or bring it to your mechanic, the truth is very little. Even then, whether things start to fall apart is still a matter of luck.