Car auctions are the stock market of the used car industry.
Many of the biggest companies around the world handle over one million vehicles every year, and offer an array of choices for buyers to choose from. Of course, the selections are down to the sellers, so you could be pleasantly surprised when you attend. There are a few tips and tricks to consider when learning how to buy cars at auction. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these easy-to-follow steps.
A Bit About Buying Cars at Auction
Car auctions happen around the United States every week. Amongst these are specialist events such as classic cars, or even ex-police cars to attend. Whilst looking through the vast selection of exceptional cars at auctions, there are some amazing bargains to pick up. Make sure you don’t confuse a car auction with online auctions, as they’re completely different. Knowing how to buy cars at auction requires being on the ball and not missing a shot. If you blink, you could miss out on your dream car and someone else will claim it.
Many professionals attend these car auctions, so they’re not for the light-hearted, or just for a fun activity one day. People take them extremely seriously – especially car enthusiasts looking for a bargain. Don’t be intimidated though, because we’ll provide all the advice, tips and tricks you need to start bidding at your first ever car auction. Of course, the intention is that you leave with the car of your dreams, so you may wish to have a specific make and model in mind before attending. The most important thing is to properly inspect the car(s) you’re interested in. It’s unlikely someone will sell an unworthy car at one of these events. However, as it’s your money, you want to ensure you get the best possible value for your money.
What is an Auction?
A car auction is an environment to bid on cars. It’ a method of selling new, and mostly used, cars in a professional setting, using an auction system. Auto actions are popular around the globe, but are often unused by most people. To become an automobile dealer, you need to carry a license. However, in some countries, such as Japan, auto auctions are sometimes held and organised by most residents. But, in the United States, car auctions are major part of the wholesale market for used vehicles. On the other hand, most states only allow closed auctions, which means that only dealers can attend.
Recently, online auto vehicles have become popular. For example, eBay enables users to out-bid other people until their bid is accepted, and they then become the owner of the vehicle. However, this online system doesn’t carry the same energy and enthusiasm as a real car auction. Also, understandably, many buyers prefer to see the car in person. Thanks to sellers on eBay enabling interested people to visit and manually inspect the vehicle, it increases the chances of selling their vehicle. A dealer auto auction is a specialized type of car auction. Every year, millions of vehicles are sold. The prices sold at these auctions are often lower than those advertised on a dealer’s lot to ensure they reach a profit.
Why Should You Consider Buying at an Auction?
Many people say that buying at a car auction is a simple way of saving a lot of money. There’s never been a better time to attend auctions because fewer traders are on the lookout for cheap cars in the run up to the festive season. These actions are worth attending during the working day, and you don’t want to rush your time there. Always ensure you inspect every vehicle and damage, preferably with some mechanical knowledge in mind. Although this might seem off-putting, it enables you, as the customer, to be in complete control. You’re actually buying the car, rather than being sold it by a car dealer.
It’s definitely worth considering learning how to buy cars at auction, because you can bag yourself a great deal. Cars at auctions are usually a lot cheaper compared to cars sold at conventional dealerships and distributors. This is why people who are on a limited budget visit every car auction in their community. Who doesn’t want to save money if they can? Also, you can secure and purchase the most reliable cars at car auctions. This is because the organizers and sellers ensure their vehicle is of the highest quality and in great condition for buyers to want to buy it. Contrary to myths, you won’t just receive any old car which hasn’t been looked after.
Although you may have a specific make and model in mind when attending a car auction, you could come across an unusual vehicle you’ve never seen before. Alternatively, you could capture a rare vehicle. Explore your options and open your mind as you walk around and inspect the vehicles.
How Does the Auction Process Work?
If you’re considering attending a car auction, you won’t regret it. They enable you to easily and enjoyably buy a car for an exceptional price. Research car auctions in your area. They’re often home to specific types of vehicles, so check whether the car you’re interested in will be there. At first, they’re a daunting environment for first-timers, but don’t let this put you off. It’s definitely worth taking the time to get used to the pace of the setting.
Some auctions require you to register before making a bid. You may need to pay at least $500 upfront – whether by cash or car. What the auctioneer says before the bidding opens up a legal selling statement. Ensure you pay close attention, as the details can sometimes be different and unique to each purchase. Many car auctions use a grading system to help buyers and sellers understand the vehicles’ condition. For example:
Grade A/1: Car has minor repairs like a small dent and may be missing minor trim items.
Grade B/2: Car has one medium body shop repair or a mixture of one medium body repair and a number of minor repairs.
Grade C/3: Car has up to 4 medium body repairs and up to 3 major body repairs.
Grade D/4: Car has one major repair and some medium and/or minor repairs.
Grade E/5: Car has more than 2 major repairs.
How to Buy Cars at Auction
There’s nowhere else you can find a low-mileage car in excellent condition than at a car auction. If you’re looking for a good condition used car, or are happy to keep your options open, then there’s no better place than a car auction. There’s something suitable for everyone – all within a reasonable price. Let’s take a look at how to buy cars at auction so you can land a great deal and love your purchase.
1. Visit Car Auctions Before Having the Intention of Buying
Learning how to buy cars at auction requires research and feeling comfortable with the hectic and highly-pressured environment. Before you actually buy, visit three or four actions in your area. This is a great way to get used to the pace and environment, and will make it seem a lot less intimidating when it comes to making your first purchase. Vehicles are consigned for sale by the owners, and you can expect private individuals, a dealer, company or more. Anyone who completes a legally binding form and declares the vehicle’s age, mileage and condition is eligible to sell a vehicle.
There’s usually a lowest figure the seller will accept and auctioneers cannot sell below this value. Therefore, don’t even waste your time attempting to get a better deal than the one mentioned. The vehicle is then entered for the next appropriate sale. Many of these major auction companies hold an array of sale categories according to the vehicle’s type, age and source. By following a structured system, it makes it easier to follow and plan out your time, so you aren’t unnecessarily stood there waiting for your car to pop up. This idea is so that buyers know exactly where and when to find their vehicle they want to buy. Essentially, it helps to avoid confusion and time wasted.
2. Don’t Rush the Process
Car auctions are extremely exciting, and there’s a constant positive energy to the setting. However, never rush the process because you’re excited, as it’s easy to overlook some incredible choices. Arrive in good time and take your time looking around. We recommend attending during the week and booking time off work, as it’s less busy. Give yourself a few hours to properly look around, rather than an hour. As you look around at the vehicles, ensure you have key things to look and inspect for. This might be according to your budget, or your preferences. Do you have a certain age or mileage in mind? By doing this, you won’t unnecessarily be looking at cars without not knowing what you’re observing.
Take time to choose the vehicle which interests you, and select a couple of back-up options if you’re unlucky in bidding for your first choice. This can happen as you never know what the competition is like. (Another reason to attend mid-week when there’s typically less buyers on the scene). You should have enough free time to enjoy the experience, and walk around at a fair pace. Once you spot a vehicle which takes your eye, visually inspect it, and even ask the seller for some additional information. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions which might feel silly.
3. Inspect the Vehicle
Remember that you’re spending your money on a vehicle, so should receive it in the best condition possible. Don’t just judge the vehicle on it being the make and model you were looking for, but also its condition, appearance and age. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to check the car’s overall exterior visible condition – including paintwork, tyres, windows and trim. Also, look at the interior too, and check the seats, dashboard and carpet for damage. All these factories are important to inspect before purchasing the vehicle. This is because everything is ‘sold as soon’, so ensure you take the opportunity to properly examine before entering the auction process. As the car is driven to the auction hall, follow it in for a last-minute examination. Also, listen to the engine running to ensure it lives up to its promise.
You may to use your judgement of the car inspection to come to a verdict of your bidding option. Let’s say there’s a huge scratch on the side of the car, this will devalue it, so ensure you don’t overpay for something you’re not entirely happy with.
4. Set a Budget Whilst Enabling Some Flexibility
Another of the best ways to learn how to buy cars at auction is to set a budget and know what your limit is. No matter how much you fall in love with the vehicle, it isn’t worth the stress and upset of putting yourself in an unfortunate, stressful situation. If you know you have a maximum of $5,000 to spend, don’t go over it. Inevitably, you want to be the winner of the auction so you get to take home the car of your dreams. You can improve your chances, by increasing your budget. Also, don’t choose the most popular vehicle, or rarest model if you can’t compete with the competition.
Remember, the auctioneer is there to sell cars for the highest amount as possible, as the auction house takes a percent commission on each vehicle sold. They’ll invite bids on individual cars from the audience, and whilst bids tend to start low, they can increase at a staggering speed. Listen at all times and ensure you have a quick hand if you want to keep up. It’s a lot easier (and more fun!) to visit in person rather than participate over the phone to someone attending for you.
Do You Have Any Tips on How to Buy Cars at Auction?
We hope you enjoyed reading the above tips on how to buy cars at auction. When plenty of things to consider, it can be an intimidating time. However, we want you to enjoy the process and experience, rather than be stressed. Ensure you take your time and feel 100 percent confident and excited in your final decision.
Do you have any tips on how to buy cars at auction? If so, share your thoughts and advice in the comments to motivate and inspire others.