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 by buying one at auction.
And if you’re looking to do that, why not buy your car where the dealers do?
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.