Tips & Advice for Buying a Car at Auction

There are many benefits of buying a car at auction and one of the greatest benefits is how affordable these vehicles can be.

The variety of vehicles available give you the flexibility to choose from a large selection and, if you’re looking for rare, one-of-a-kind type vehicles, car auctions are a great source to find one.

However attractive purchasing a vehicle from an auction might look, there are a few things to consider if you’re intent on getting the best possible deal.

Budget Wisely

Every auction will have an inventory list of the vehicles that will be presented as well as basic information on each vehicle.

Many auctions will require that you pay up front, so it is best to determine which vehicles you can afford at the auction.

If you’re looking at buying a vehicle at an interstate auction, it’s also important to consider how you’ll get the car to its destination and that means taking into account the cost of vehicle transport.

With the average cost of transporting a car within Australia sitting at around $700, this would mean setting aside an extra 10% on a car purchased for $7,000.

Inspect the Vehicle

Once you have a list of desired vehicles that can fit your budget, you’ll want to ensure that those vehicles have passed an inspection check.

If you’re able to physically inspect the vehicle, here’s a few things to look for:

  • Look for worn tires, damaged rims, damage to the body, chipped glass on the mirrors, screens, and/or windows, front and rear lights. These could mean a “biggish” upfront cost just to get the vehicle registered in your State.
  • Take lots of photos. These will be particularly useful as a record of the vehicle condition prior to any transport you may need.
  • Does the vehicle leak, are brakes effective, is the engine correct, does it smoke, does it make off-putting noises and does it even start?
  • Check important paperwork such as the vehicle having its VIN number, history of ownership, history of repairs.
  • Are there any modifications to the vehicle? This is also important to give you peace of mind that you are going to purchase a safe vehicle but also modified vehicles will tend to increase insurance premiums.

Purchasing Requirements

Many auctions have a fee for winning a vehicle. It’s important to know just how much that fee is.

At times auctions require that you put down a deposit and will allow you to pay later.

Some auctions set specific times at which the full payment is required.

These are all things that should be researched beforehand so you can properly bid on any vehicles stress free.

Bidding for a Car at Auction

When it comes down to finally bidding for one of the vehicles that interests you, being patient is a key factor to getting a price within your budget.

Auctioneers have been known purposely start an auction with a high initial price. This is designed to get inexperienced bidders to over purchase.

Wait it out. If no one bids, the initial price was too high and the auctioneer will ask for a revised starting price. At this time, the process is at its most stressful, especially if you are bidding for a car that you want desperately.

Interestingly, a joint study conducted in the UK by the London Business School and Northwestern University found that a strategy of starting an auction with a low price lead to higher overall selling prices. (Read the research here.)

In either case, it is best not to remain conservative in your approach and to even be prepared to walk away from purchasing a vehicle if the bids get too high for your budget or even exceed it.

If the vehicle is not an exclusive brand or model, there will always be other auctions housing the same vehicle or something very similar.

Planing for Transport

Many car auction winners prefer not to drive their newly won vehicles home for several reasons.

An auctioned vehicle might not be registered, it may be located in a different state or some may just want to preserve it until it is at their doorstep.

Whatever the reason, the services of a vehicle transport company would likely be needed to move your vehicle from an auction to your door.

If your vehicle is of the luxury or exotic class, choosing an enclosed vehicle transport would be the best option to preserving its condition until it arrives at your door.

The enclosed carrier is the most common way car auctioneers move their vehicles to and from auctions, so look for companies that specialise in auction transports to produce the best results and satisfaction upon winning a great vehicle at an auction.

It’s well worth getting a quote as a gauge on pricing so you know how much you’ll need to spend to get your win back home. Quotes are free and, if you’re on a budget, you’ll most definitely want to know how much you can spend on auction day.

Get more information about transporting a vehicle from an auction.

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