How to Buy Your First Car at Auction

Online auction. Gavel on laptop. - How to buy your first car at auction

Most second hand car dealers obtain their stock from auctions, and add a markup to what they paid. Savvy car buyers, however, are gradually getting wise to the fact that you can buy at auction yourself, and save a lot of money in the process. We look at best practices and exactly how to buy your first car at auction.

Buying your first car can be a daunting experience at the best of times, and auction buying is not for the faint hearted, but if you follow these simple tips you could walk away with the first car of your dreams, at a great bargain price.

Get a Feel for the Auction Process

It makes sense to visit a few car auctions before you intend to buy. This will give you an idea of how the whole process works, so it will seem less intimidating when you’re doing it for real.

How to Buy Your First Car at Auction – Do Your Research

Research the make and model of car you’re after, and make sure you know what the market price range is. By the time you arrive at the auction house, you should have a good idea of what kind of car you want, and how much you’re prepared to pay for it.

How to Buy Your First Car at Auction – Budget Carefully

As well as the actual cost of the car, you will have to pay buyers’ fees, which will vary from place to place. You’ll also need insurance and fuel if you want to drive the car away – don’t forget to factor these costs into your budget.

How to Buy Your First Car at Auction – Inspect the Car Thoroughly

Arrive at the auction house in plenty of time to inspect your chosen car. If you don’t know much about cars, never go without a friend or relative who does – you need someone to give it an expert once over, to ensure that you’re not buying a dud or potentially dangerous vehicle.

How to Buy Your First Car at Auction- Know Your Rights

Auction houses can – and do – take away some of your normal consumer rights by issuing disclaimers or varying their terms and conditions. Make sure you read the fine print carefully and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

How to Buy Your First Car at Auction – Bid Clearly and Responsibly

When it’s time to bid, be very clear in your bidding. Leave the subtle signals to the experts. Crucially – do not go over your budget limit. You will need to be strict with yourself about this, as auctions move quickly and it’s very easy to find yourself out of your depth. Once the bid reaches your maximum, stop. You cannot retract a bid once it is made, and if you win the auction you are obliged to buy the car.

According to British Car Auctions, 10% of cars sold at auction go to private buyers, so if you do your homework and hold your nerve, an auction can be a great place to find your perfect first car for less. It’s exciting, a bit of a challenge and can be quite scary – but if you succeed, you’ll gain not only a car but a huge sense of satisfaction too.