Across America, car auctions are becoming increasingly popular. As wages have stagnated and credit rules are tightening, more and more people are looking towards auctions to buy their cars for cheap. However, there are a number of potential pitfalls once needs to avoid while at a car auction. We share with you 10 useful tips for buying a car at an auction. Learn these tips and bid at the car auction like a pro.
Disclaimer: This article offers tips relating to physical auctions. Online auctions are a completely different breed, and we’ll be writing a separate article specifically for them.
Tip 1: Do Your Research
Before you set off to bid at an auction, it helps to do a bit of research on the auction house you are visiting. Check their website and look through their listings. Try to assess the estimation of what these listed cars are really worth by visiting online resources like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds to discover their average market value.
Tip 2: Set a Strict Budget
While at auctions, it can be easy to get carried away and buy too much car and regret it later. Set a realistic budget line, write the figure down if necessary, and don’t bid over it. Sometimes, walking away is often a deal in itself than buying a car for far more than what it may be worth to you.
While setting your budget, be sure to include in it not just the amount for the car but other factors as well as including transport, auction fees, etc.
Tip 3: Come Along With an Expert
Remember, at most auctions, cars are sold as seen, meaning that you are very limited in what you can check and cannot test drive them. Furthermore, auctioned cars are almost never sold with any warranty, guarantee, or legal recourse. Moreover, many sellers will go to great lengths to hide flaws in their vehicles. A shining car may look nice, but once you successfully bid for it and own it, you began to realize that it is badly in need of many costly repairs.
To avoid the risk of getting duped off, you must bring along with you a person who is knowledgeable about cars and can offer you a better assessment of the condition of a vehicle being auctioned.
Tip 4: Do a Background Vehicle Check
Mileage can be manipulated, and car history can be lied about. Do a proper background check on the vehicle you are willing to buy. Acquire the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and carry out a thorough background check on the vehicle by visiting the National Insurance Crime bureau online.
Aspects such as the car’s current state of title, mileage, brand history, and total loss history should match you are being shown at the auction. If any of the information is contradictory, then it is a big red flag that the car is not worth bidding for.
Be sure also to check if the car isn’t hiding any skeletons in the closet. Check if the car is a theft-recovery vehicle, was involved in any major accidents before, or is subject to any outstanding credit agreement.
Tip 5: Attend a Few Auctions Before Your First Bid
If you are a rookie at bidding, it is always a good idea to attend a few auction houses as a spectator before you decide to become an actual bidder to learn the process and gain better insight. Remember, cars are an expensive investment, and the last you want is for your inexperience to translate your bidding into a costly mistake.
Tip 6: Be Sure to Register Yourself
At many auction events, you can’t simply walk in and start bidding. Instead, you need to get yourself registered first. Many auction houses allow you to register directly online through their website. Once you are registered, you may be given a bidding number, which you need to show to the auctioneer when you are bidding.
Tip 7: Be an Early Bird
Arrive in plenty of time at the site before the auction starts. This is the opportune time when you can inspect the vehicles personally and looking closing at what is on offer. Inspection in daylight also allows you to better details of the car and find faults otherwise you would miss in darker hours.
Arriving early also allows you to assess your options better when the bidding starts. If you already have spotted two or more vehicles you are interested in, it can afford you an excellent fallback position to go to in case bidding for your first choice gets extremely fierce.
Tip 8: If the Car Looks Bad, It Probably Is
If the car you are viewing features dents, effects of weathering, and damaged paint, it is likely that the said vehicle is such a useless piece that the seller didn’t even see it as worthwhile to improve its visual presentation. This tip doesn’t apply to government-held auctions as they want to get rid of the decommissioned vehicles.
Tip 9: Make the Most out of What You Can Inspect
Whatever limited inspection you are allowed to do on the car, take advantage of it. Check the car’s transmission fluid. If it is dark and grimy, it is a sure sign that the car is ill-maintained. Turn the engine on and hear it. If it is making any sounds it shouldn’t be making then it probably would be a good idea to not bid for it.
Tip 10: Listen Carefully to the Auctioneer
Before taking in bids, the auctioneer will typically list down the details of the car, including any known, major issues or mechanical faults. Pay close attention to what they are saying so you can have the cost of repairs factored in when making your bid.
Tip 11: Check for an Engineer’s Report
Some cars at the auction will have an engineer’s report prominently placed on their windscreen. An engineer’s report indicates that the vehicle has been properly checked by a qualified engineer and is being offered on sale based on their evaluation of its conditions.
Tip 12: Make the Most of the Auction
Remember, auctions can be a thrilling and fun experience. Be sure to meet as many people as possible. Talk to them and share information. Who knows what tip they may give you that would be valuable at the auction.
Auctions can be the best or the worst places when it comes to great cost-saving car deals. It all depends on how you are willing to play the game. Equipped with these powerful tips, you will be able to make smarter bidding decisions and greatly increase your chance of landing ownership of a car that genuinely provides value rather than burdens you with unneeded costs.
If you have any useful tips on buying a car at an auction yourself, share it with the rest of the community by commenting them below. If you found the article helpful, consider sharing it with others as well.
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