9 top tips for buying a car at auction
About 12,000 vehicles are sold every week at auctions across the UK, with one-in-10 purchases made by private buyers. The pandemic saw auctions move online, but as restrictions were lifted and auction houses reopened, many buyers returned to bidding in-person.
If you’re new to car auctions, we’ve put together nine tips to help you pick a car that meets your needs and is less likely to suffer a mechanical or electronic problem soon after you leave the auction house. These tips will also provide a grounding in how car auctions work.
1. Visit an auction house in person
If you’re new to car auctions, it’s a good idea to experience one for yourself before you think about placing a bid. This way you’ll get a feel for how the process works.
2. Research your target vehicles
You may not win the vehicle you want, so ensure you have a couple of back-up options. Take the time to scrutinise the auction catalogue, and research cars you’re interested in by reading used buyers guides online. You should also check the MOT history, which can be done for free on the DVLA website – also online.
3. Beware fees, VAT and commission
If you win a car, the final bid won’t be your only cost. You’ll also be charged a buyer’s fee (a percentage of the final price). You might also have to pay VAT, or commission if you bought online. Find out how to pay and in what timeframe you need to pay before you commit to placing your bids!
4. Examine your target vehicles
Arriving early will give you more time to scrutinise your target vehicles. If cars aren’t your thing, take along a knowledgeable friend to help. If possible look under the bonnet and pay attention to the engine noise as it starts before being taken to the auction hall. Look at the interior, bodywork condition, and any damage to the wheels.
5. Ensure all paperwork is present
Ensure the V5 and other key documentation is all present and correct. Look for evidence of service history. MOT history will help determine mileage figures
6. Stay within your budget
Don’t bid more than you decided beforehand. If you miss out, there will be similar opportunities on another occasion. Ensure you raise your hand clearly when placing a bid (or follow instructions if bidding online). Once the hammer is down, the deal is done
7. Pay attention to the auctioneer
There are three key phrases to watch out for. If the auctioneer says ‘no major faults’, the engine, suspension and gearbox should work fine. With an announcement of ‘Specified faults’ all faults will be made clear. Finally, listen out for ‘sold as seen’ – this means the car is being sold with any faults it may have, no matter how severe, which the buyer accepts upon purchase.
8. Hand over payment
If you win the vehicle in question, you’ll likely be directed to the cashier’s office where you’ll pay for the vehicle after signing the applicable documents. Ensure you can pay using one of the methods accepted by the auction house.
9. Arrange tax and insurance before you hit the road
In order to drive the vehicle home on public roads, you’ll need to make sure it’s taxed and insured. And of course, it should also be roadworthy. If you can’t drive it home, you can get it delivered. Auction houses usually offer temporary insurance products to help get you home legally.
10. Buy a used car at trusted auction house
Letchworth Motor Auctions are proud to be an established auction-house with a great reputation. We are here to help you take your next step in buying a motor vehicle or light commercial vehicle at auction, whether you are an independent buyer, sole trader or motor trade customer. We also offer vehicle inspection reports, free online vehicle valuations and other services – including nationwide vehicle collection and deliveries,
Check out Letchworth Motor Auctions’ latest auction list and auction hall vehicle viewing times: View now
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