Selling or buying a car at an auction is not for the faint of heart – it can be demanding, daunting, and even deceiving. However, that is not to say that an auction is not an effective way to get a good bargain. It is just that we understand the challenges associated with winning at an auction, and for this reason, we have come up with a list of tips and strategies that will prove useful for you, regardless of whether you are a first-timer or an auction veteran.
Do your research
Now, this might sound cliché, but only because it cannot be emphasized enough. Look up the serial number to check if everything adds up. Hire a mechanic to examine the car and give you a professional opinion. Ask the seller plenty of questions, and most importantly, find out the real reason they are selling. Plenty of car auction houses have up-to-date websites, so do not forget to visit those. Avoid future headaches by doing your due diligence.
Visiting the auctions early means that you get the chance to stroll around, observe the cars without distractions, and even engage in conversations with people. Conversing is particularly important, as the more friends you have, the higher your chances of getting what you want. Even if you do not strike gold at that auction, your contacts will be able to give valuable tips for the future.
Take someone with you
Used car auctions can be overwhelming, and going by yourself might reduce your chances of landing a good deal. It is important to learn the rules of the game, and the best way to do so is to take an experienced buyer along with you.
Use your eyes
Cars at public and government auctions sell solely on visual inspection. For this reason, close observation is crucial – focus on any telltale indications of repair, such as rough sheet metal, paint overspray, uneven stance, scored brake discs, and any other such signs. Use your other senses as well – if a car smells musty, for instance, you should drop it like a hot potato.
Set your limit
It is normal to excite yourself at an auction, especially if your dream car is on offer. For this reason, you should set a comfortable price level before you even step into the auction. This way, you will be able to keep emotion out of the way and not end up overpaying.
Understand what ‘as is’ means
In a nutshell, ‘as is’ means ‘as is’ – no guarantees or warranties once you drive that vehicle away, and therefore, no turning back if you later discover that you have bought nothing but a pile of metal rubble. If you cannot handle such a loss or disappointment, you might want to avoid bidding.
Notice other bidders
Do not be impatient and take your time in observing the actions of your fellow bidders. Pay attention to any suspicious bidders; for instance, those who are participating in every lot – their sole purpose might be to jack up the price. Also, we recommend visiting a few auctions before participating in one.
Know the rules
No two auctions have the same rules, and it is important to know how things work, regardless of whether you are a buyer or a seller.
Go through the fine print
An auction catalog copywriter’s job is not to talk you out of buying a car. If the car has any flaws or defects, they will likely be buried in the fine print, and hence, you should carefully read the entire text. You should also remember that taxes and commissions will mean that your final payment will be more than your winning bid – some auction houses charge as much as 15 percent in commission. Make sure that you have budgeted for this extra cost.
Check The VIN
The VIN is written on the base of the windshield, and you should copy it for any car you are thinking of purchasing. Next, check other places where the VIN might show up, such as the trunk lid or door stickers. A mismatch between the numbers might mean that the car had to be rebuilt after going through a major accident and that it is not the best vehicle to purchase.
Avoid drinking before bidding
A drink might be a good idea if you are a seller, but if you are buying, avoid it at any cost. While sellers should make sure that the room is full of liquor, buyers should ensure that they will be able to pass a breathalyzer test.
Know what is fixable and what is not
A broken mirror, burnt-out headlight, and minor dents are easy to fix and relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, a bad clutch or a leaking head is a major repair. Unless you are confident that you will be able to profit on a car with significant mechanical flaws, it is best to steer clear.
Drive the car
Since so many aspects of a vehicle are subjective, it is best to not only rely on the word of a consultant or seller. Everything might seem perfect until you decide to get behind the wheel, only to find out that the clutch pedal falls straight to the floor. Remember, words mean nothing when it comes to a car. You’re going to be driving that car, not talking to it.
Do not get caught up with the bidding
As we mentioned, it is normal and easy to get carried away at an auction and end up bidding many times more than what a car is worth. To avoid such a blunder, you should have multiple options and not pin all your hopes on a single vehicle. This way, you will be ready to walk away when needed.
Check if the vehicle has been clocked
Odometers are not always accurate, so you will want to make sure that the vehicle mileage is legitimate. A background vehicle check will help you determine if the car has been clocked or if there are any mileage discrepancies. Not only can mileage have a significant impact on the vehicle value, but it is also important from the safety point of view. A car history report will tell you if the car has been clocked and if there are any issues with the mileage.
To conclude, an auction is an exciting experience, and you should enjoy it. It can also be a successful experience for you, provided you go about it the right way, and we hope that this article will assist you with that. For more information on handling car auctions, please feel free to contact us.