By: Gov Auctions | 9 March 2015

How to Win at a Car Auction


Auctions can be great places to buy quality cars. There are plenty of good deals to be had, but it’s important that you have a plan and, more importantly, that you stick to that plan. While auctions are a popular method for selling (and hence buying) cars, there are still a number of things that you should consider and follow when purchasing at an auction.

Firstly, always ensure you have a clear idea of what you want or what you are looking for. This should also help you research in advance what such an example (year, model, specification) should be worth. This is important to know, as you will need a benchmark when considering your bidding levels.

If you’re not yet sure about what you are looking for, car auctions are still a great place to work this out. Just don’t put in any bids if you are going there for research purposes. Seeing a few auctions take place will help you understand the process better, and give you a clearer idea of what’s available and what to expect.

Once you have done a sufficient amount research, you will have a good (or at least better) idea of the type of car you are looking for and the price you should be paying for it. Remember to consider different variants of a particular car, as values between models and options can be very different. Personal budget is obviously very important when purchasing a car, but this becomes particularly important at an auction as it’s very easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. This is where many first time buyers at auction go wrong.

Another important strategy for the research process is to visit the auction house during the scheduled open times to scope out the stock and have a detailed inspection of the vehicles that you are potentially interested in. This is your chance to sit in them, feel the controls, and closely inspect the engine bay and other mechanical components.

The bidding process can be quite intense, and watching bids unfold on a vehicle that you are interested in can create additional pressure. This is what auctions are designed to do, so staying calm is paramount. Sometimes you may find that most of the bidding occurs in the final stages of an auction. This is actually commonplace, and is in fact one of the recommended strategies when buying a car at auction. There is nothing stopping you from bidding in the closing stages, or even at the last second before the hammer falls. Nobody wants to reveal their bid too early as it can cause the price to run up unnecessarily, and it also shows your level of interest to the other buyers who might be competing against you.

The fundamentals of buying a car at auction are still largely based on common sense. Remaining calm and always reminding yourself of your budget is the first step to achieving a successful result at an auction. Remember, missing out (or passing) on a vehicle that sold at a price much higher than it is fundamentally worth is still considered a successful outing.

Doing sufficient research is also crucial as preparedness is the one thing that will help you determine whether you are getting a fair deal. Preparedness and a steady hand will be sure to yield you an excellent result.