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How to Buy Cars at Auction + 5 Tips for Newcomers

How to buy cars at auction to have a happy purchase and get your hands on a used but great vehicle? This article covers all tips and information necessary for participating in a car auction. If you're wondering whether car auctions are right for you but are worried that you'll be hung out to dry by unfair auction traders, this article is for you.


Read in this article:

  • How to Buy Cars at Auction

  • Choose the Car you want to Bid on

  • What Happens When the Car Auction Starts?

  • How to Bid at a Car Auction

  • What Happens After the Auction Process?

  • Tips for Newcomers in Car Auctions

  • Conclusion


How to Buy Cars at Auction

Auctions are happening worldwide every week with auction houses, specialist events like classic car auctions, or even ex-police auctions to attend. There's a wide variety of auctions where buyers who know what they're doing can have bargains at wholesale prices.

Car auctions are not confused with online auctions like eBay, where you generally have quite a long time making your play. At the busiest car auction houses, the auction around a car you've had your eye on can play out in seconds, so if you blink, you may miss it.

Still, think you've got what it needs to mix it on the auction floor with the professionals? If you've got the needed confidence to get involved in this process, we've got the recommendation you should help keep the sharks at bay. Please continue to read for our tips on how to buy cars at auction to expect when to bid at your first ever car auction.


Choose the Car you want to Bid on.

Auction buyers can inspect each car going under the hammer either online or in the material catalogs handed out at the auction house. Most records describe the vehicle, history details, and grade its condition.

We'd always suggest taking a good look at the online catalog in advance so you get a proper idea of the cars you may be interested in them. It would help if you also felt how many look like vehicles are selling by reviewing online auction sites or using car pricing guides first. They'll help you set a ballpark sum of how much you're willing to pay for a used car.

After doing the research, you can narrow the field down by inspecting your chosen vehicles on the day. There is usually a one or two-hour window before the auction starts where the cars are lined up and buyers can walk around and check them. Some auction houses provide independent inspects of the vehicles they sell, but if you're confident enough, it's always recommended to work your way through the basics. Simple checks of the engine, electrical systems, bodywork, car interior, and tires will give you a general idea of the car's condition.


What Happens When the Car Auction Starts?

Once the selling starts, vehicles are driven into the auction house one after another. They bring the car for sale to the front of the stage, and the vendor describes the car.

It is always essential to listen carefully to what the auctioneer says, as his or her description is a legally binding selling statement. The story by the auctioneer outmodes any of the earlier reports in the printed catalog or online. These are the key phrases to look out for.

  • No Major Mechanical Faults: It indicates the car should not have faults with the engine, suspension, drivetrain or gearbox;

  • Specified Faults: It means the auctioneer will read out the faults' list and pay careful attention here;

  • Sold as Seen: It indicates the vehicle is sold with any of the flaws it may have auction house will rarely accept any complaints about these vehicles' mechanical or cosmetic condition after the sale;

  • Sold with a Warranted Mileage: It means an independent inspection has verified the mileage, and the car is sold based on the documented report.

Then the auctioneer will ask for a starting bid. The bidding typically is in the range of £100 to £200. However, it is possible for the bidding to go up to £1,000 intervals if the car is expensive.



How to Bid at a Car Auction

We recommend you go to at least three or four auctions without purchasing anything to get a feel for the process, understand how to buy cars at auction and avoid making any expensive mistakes in the bidding process.

Some auction houses are particular about what form of payment they accept, so make sure to inspect what type of credit or debit cards you can use if you need to know how to buy cars at auction halls.

The bidding process is done by raising your hand or the catalog and will continue until there are no bidders left in the room. The highest bidder buys the car, and that's when the hammer comes down. Bidding is often fast-paced, so make sure you keep up with the prices and the number of people bidding on the intended car.


What Happens after the Auction Process?

If you become the top bidder at the end of the intended auction, you should submit a deposit, which is usually paid to the rostrum clerk. This deposit is usually 10 percent of the vehicle's total value.

Some auction houses can ask for 20 percent of the vehicle value or a fixed amount of money, whichever comes first. After this, they direct you to the cashier's office, where you should sign the documents and pay the rest of the money. Some auction houses provide specialty insurance services for the day, which allows you to tax and insure the vehicle and drive it home.

You will also pay a buyer's fee on top of the purchase price, usually around four to six percent of the car's cost. Always have in mind that at the fall of the hammer, the car becomes your responsibility, and it is down to you as the new owner to make sure it is adequately insured, taxed, and road legal before being driven on the road.


Tips for Newcomers in Car Auctions

This section offers you five tips that help you get the best deal at a car auction and avoid any costly mishaps. Next time you decide to participate in an auction, try to remember these tips:

  • Research at First: Know what you want to buy beforehand and have a good idea of what kind of vehicle you wish to bid on will be worth.

  • Don't Rush at All: Arrive in good time and spend some time looking around. If possible, select a few back-ups if the bidding for your first choice goes beyond your intended budget.

  • Check the Car: Take the opportunity to check the intended car to the best of your abilities; while some vehicles come with an independent inspection guarantee, it's still good practice to go over the mechanicals and bodywork.

  • Try to Be Flexible: It's unlikely you will find the perfect car at an auction; used vehicles always come with a past, so be realistic when critiquing potential buys.

  • Set a Clear Budget: It's easy to get lost in the heat of bidding; set yourself a clear budget and do not go over it. There will always be another car. You will still have to tax the vehicle and buy insurance, and setting aside some money for service costs is always good practice.

Conclusion

This article about car auctions covers everything you need to know about how to buy cars at auction for a better purchase. The most important thing in buying a used car is to check the vehicle you're going to buy thoroughly. So always inspect the intended vehicle carefully.

If you become the top bidder at the end of the car auction, you should submit 10 percent of the vehicle's total value as the deposit, which is usually paid to the stage clerk. At the fall of the vendor hammer, the car becomes yours, and it is down to you to ensure it is insured, taxed, and road legal before being driven on the road.


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