A Womens Guide to Car Buying at Auction

By: Barbara Jeffers

Auctions can be an intimidating place to buy a car. However having recently experienced buying at one, I decided to write this guide to encourage more women to consider this as an alternative.

My son wanted to buy a van for his business, however most of the vans available locally in his price range, were either battle scarred or had high mileage. So he decided to try an auction. As my husband (the motoring expert in our house) was unable to attend, I stepped into the breach. It was a very interesting experience with lessons learnt very quickly, however following a few rules we did ended up with a smart looking van with low mileage for the less money than would have been needed to buy from a dealer.

Preparation is key to buying at Auction

1. Use the internet to find your local Auctions and look at the list of vehicles for sale. Check that there are several of the type that you are interested in. No point going otherwise.

2. Check the rules of the Auction.
- How can you pay?
- Is there a deposit to pay before bidding?
- What are the additional costs to pay on top of the bid price
- Tax and Insurance

3. Before driving the car away, you need insure it and then tax it. While you can get immediate insurance online or over the phone, there will be a delay before you can be tax it, as you either need a cover note for the Post Office or the insurance company to update the national database to be able to tax online or by phone. Some insurance companies can provide a cover note by email. It is worth checking with your insurance company before going to the auction.

4. How you are going to take the car away? You can either pay for delivery to your home or wait until your tax and insurance are sorted out and then drive it away. Check the costs involved for both options as the Auctioneers will charge for storage of your car beyond a set time.

5. Decide on the make and model, mileage range and condition for the types of vehicle you are interested in. Check the price ranges for each selection using the internet. Decide how much you are willing to bid, given the additional costs buying at Auction will involve. Put all these details together in a spreadsheet and print it out to take with you.

At the Auction

6. Arrive early before the bidding starts, so you can pay your deposit (if required), get your bidders number and a guide to the vehicles for sale.
7. The cars will all be parked up, in numerical order, take a quick sweep through to identify all those that you are interested in and return to look at these in detail. For each car you like, mark a price on the catalogue that you are willing to go to.
8. Before your first choice comes up, go and watch the bidding, to get a feel for what is happening, so you will comfortable when you bid.

Checking the Car

If possible bring someone with you who can help check the cars over, a quick check list for the non technical is given below. Remember at Auction you cannot test drive the car, but the cars will be driven through the arena. Below are some ideas of what to look for.

9. Check for battle damage. Sometimes this is obvious, a scrape or a dent but it is not so easy to spot re-sprays after accidents. Look at the colours of the individual panels, are they all the same? Is the inside of the door the same colour as the outside? Do all the panels line up?
10. Look at the engine. Is there oil everywhere? Then give it a miss. On the flip side an engine that looks as if it has been steam cleaned is suspicious. Go for an engine that looks used but has no oil.
11. Check the tread on the tyres. I saw that many of the tyres were painted black to make them look newer than they actually were.
12. Be at the car when it is started up for the drive into the bidding area. It should start first time and run well.

Auction Buying

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