Going three times… Buying a car at auction.
Buying a car at auction does not need to be either a scary or a risky experience. The right preparation can give you the tools that you need to bid then walk away with a great car. If you’re thinking of making a car purchase through an auction house, make sure you take a look at these handy tips.
Do some advance planning
Most auction houses produce catalogues of the vehicles that they are going to have available to buy. Take some time to review your options. If you find a car suits your needs, you can begin the inspection process.
Choosing a car in advance of the date of auction ensures you have sufficient time to inspect the vehicle yourself and call in an expert if necessary. If you don’t find a car you like until the day of auction you are unlikely to be able to get it checked by a mechanic or take it for a test drive.
Take a closer look
One of the most important steps in the process of buying a used car is giving it a very thorough inspection. That means that you should not only view the car and take a close look at all aspects of it - you should also call in a mechanic to do the same (find out about AA Motoring Services Pre-Purchase Inspections by clicking here).
Getting a vehicle inspected by a mechanic prior to the day of auction is a smart way of ensuring you know exactly what you are bidding on. It’s likely to have to happen at the auction site, so find out what your mechanic is going to charge you for the inspection before you contact the auction house.
If your mechanic inspects the vehicle and finds any issues with it, it’s a good idea to try and get a quote for the cost of rectifying them. Don’t be put off by small fixes. If there are big repairs required, make sure you take them into consideration when you review the asking price.
Complete a very thorough ‘hands on’ visual inspection
Whether or not you get your car checked out by a professional, it’s going to be very important to carry out a thorough visual check. Try to do this before auction day so you have plenty of time to discuss any issues you find with the auction house in advance of the sale.
A visual inspection is an opportunity to find any major issues, repairs, or damage to the car. This may or may not be covered up or hidden so be prepared to look closely so you can be confident that you haven’t missed anything.
Make sure you make your inspection ‘hands on’ and use your hands to feel upholstery and carpets to make sure that they are dry. One of the worst forms of hidden fault in cars is a leak that can cause serious internal and mechanical failure. Car fragrances can often be used to mask the problem so look out for any musty or damp smells.
Use the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to check that the chassis and engine match. Look out for the VIN on doors, at the base of the windscreen, on the engine, and in the boot. If the VIN doesn't match it’s a sign that there has been a major repair of some kind. You should be able to get more details from the auction house and/or the vehicle owner.
Take time to test drive
Book in a test drive before auction day. Test driving a vehicle will help you to review both how it runs and that it’s a comfortable drive. Bring along a list of what you want to check: it’s easy to get distracted and forget to try something that could be important in the longer term.
Take time to drive the car on a variety of road types so you can properly assess handling and maneuverability. It’s also a good idea to take along someone who can provide a second opinion and talk to the salesperson so you don’t get distracted. A thorough test drive should help to highlight any problems with the car.
Prepare your finances
Bidding at auction enters you into an unconditional sales contract. If you plan to place a bid it’s important to ensure you have the finance you need to complete the purchase. Setting up your car loan in advance will allow you to both understand your budget and importantly, the maximum amount that you want to spend on your car. Visit our car loans section for more info about finance from AA Finance.
Get ready for the auction
Bidding at auction can be exciting but also stressful - so it’s important not to get carried away in the moment. Try attending some auctions in advance so that you can familiarise yourself with the process.
When you register to bid at auction you will probably be expected to sign the auction house’s terms and conditions. Getting a copy of the terms and conditions in advance is important: it will allow you to understand your rights and responsibilities.
You’re ready to go
If you’ve gathered all the information about your preferred car and carried out the necessary inspections, then you should be ready to go to auction. Good luck with your purchase: hopefully you will soon be on the road in the car of your choice, having paid the price you wanted to pay for it.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure the content is correct, the information provided is subject to continuous change. Please use your discretion and seek independent guidance before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.