Lifting the bonnet on buying a car at auction

If you’re looking to buy a used car, you’ll be looking to save money.

And if you’re looking to do that, why not buy your car where the dealers do?

At a car auction. 

It seems to make a lot of sense to many people – until they come to discover all the pitfalls involved. And there are many.

Mind you, it needn’t be such a dangerous undertaking as long as you remember a few golden rules. In fact, you might end up finding it rather fun. You’ll get a huge amount of choice – and of course, as long as you keep your bidding in check, you’ll certainly save money.

You shouldn’t rush at it – either in the planning stage or on the day. Visit three or four auctions before you actually buy, just to get used to the pace and the environment.

Vehicles are consigned for sale by the owners, (who could be a private individual, a dealer, a company, financial institution or government department for example), who complete a legally binding form (the Entry Form) which declares the vehicles age, mileage and condition.

It is very important to listen to what the auctioneer says, as his description is a legally binding selling statement.

Don’t worry about the jargon – professional auctioneers speak in plain language. Was the mileage warranted? Was it sold with no major mechanical faults? Does the car have an MOT or a full service history?

If you are the top bidder, the car will be sold to you and that’s when the hammer comes down. You will need a deposit at this stage – normally 10 per cent – which you pay to the rostrum clerk. The balance can be paid in the main customer concourse.

Most auction houses accept cash (typically up to £9,000), Switch and Delta cards, along with bankers’ drafts and building society cheques.

You will also pay a buyer’s fee. On an average purchase price of around £5,000, this equates to £200. This gives you extra peace of mind – it guarantees you have good title to the car, meaning there is no outstanding hire purchase or credit on the vehicle, or it being a stolen vehicle or an undeclared write-off.

You have until one hour after the sale to make known any faults and defects.

Do your homework: Know what you want and have a good idea of what the car is worth.

Don’t rush: Arrive in good time and look around. Get a catalogue and examine the stock on offer.

Check the car: It is up to you to check the car’s overall exterior visible condition.

Budget: Set a limit on what you are prepared to pay. Don’t go over it in the heat of the moment and remember you will have a buyer’s fee.

Flexibility: Don’t get too possessive about a particular vehicle.If you miss your first choice, go and look again or come back another day.

QuickTips: First Basics of a Car Auction

You could get a real bargain at an auction but be wary, particularly if it’s your first time at an auction and you don’t know much about cars.

Buying a used car this way can be the riskiest method because your usual legal rights may not apply if the seller issues a disclaimer, such as the term ‘sold as seen’. The auctioneers are allowed by law to alter the conditions of sale, usually doing this by taking away buyers’ rights under the Sale of Goods Act.

It’s best to go as a spectator first and see what happens. By attending an auction several times before you start buying, you can get used to the atmosphere and terms such as ‘direct cars’ (ex-company cars or direct from owner). It’s a good idea to take someone with you who knows about cars if you don’t.

If you still want to try for a bargain, then know your limit and don’t be tempted to bid any higher. The motor trade recommends buying cars between two and five years old. Check for full service history, this way you can have a better chance of guaranteed mileage. Also check with the auctioneers if they can guarantee the cars aren’t stolen

It’s best to go as a spectator first and see what happens. By attending an auction several times before you start buying, you can get used to the atmosphere and terms such as ‘direct cars’ (ex-company cars or direct from owner). It’s a good idea to take someone with you who knows about cars if you don’t.

If you still want to try for a bargain, then know your limit and don’t be tempted to bid any higher. The motor trade recommends buying cars between two and five years old. Check for full service history, this way you can have a better chance of guaranteed mileage. Also check with the auctioneers if they can guarantee the cars aren’t stolen

 

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