What To Look Out For When Buying A Car On Auction

What To look out for when buying a car on auction

Nothing excites a bargain hunter like the word ‘auction’ but when it comes to buying a used car at an auction, can you really get a good deal? Those who are always on the prowl for bargains say Yes, you can definitely find some good deals at auction sales but the downside is that auctions are there to move cars that failed to sell elsewhere for one reason or another, and they’re attended by pros who know every trick in the book. An old-hand at this game says you can’t test-drive the car, you get little time to inspect it and the bidding process is a whirlwind. That means you really need to know what you’re doing in order to get a good deal.

Why buy a car at an auction? The number one reason comes down to price: you can get your vehicle at an auction for a great, low price. Most people have found that typical car auction prices are a fraction of what would be paid to a conventional car dealership. After all, dealers have a lot of overhead and bills to pay, so they jack up their prices. With auctions, it’s a bit more “bare bones,” which means it’s cheaper! Auction organizers want to protect and enhance their reputation. Therefore, they’re going to make sure the vehicles they sell at auctions are reliable. High quality vehicles in very good condition are the ones which typically get auctioned off, and they’re often the best brands people know and love– for a low, low price.

Rexy’s Auctioneers Director Melusi Richard Qwabe says buying a car at an auction sale is a great idea as these vehicles usually have low mileage and are therefore almost new and less likely to give the buyer problems. He adds that auction cars are a great bargain as most of the time, the cars are usually under warranty as well.

“The icing on top is affordability. People are able to get good quality cars at very affordable rates if they are good at bargaining. I would encourage potential car buyers to acquaint themselves with auction sales,” he says.

Another local auctioneer says it really comes down to balancing your risk against your potential savings, but if you are able to avoid common mistakes, he says you can make great savings when buying a used car. He shares a few tips;

  • Be Honest With Yourself

If you don’t have the ability and tools to deal with whatever mechanical challenges may arise, don’t talk yourself into believing otherwise. If you’re looking for cheap transportation, don’t let it become expensive repairs.

  • Use Your Eyes

Cars at government and public auctions sell on visual inspection alone so look at everything and look for tell-tale signs of repairs such as paint overspray, less than smooth sheet metal, puddles under the vehicle, scored brake discs, an uneven stance and a million other details.

  • Watch before you bid

After you find a good local auction, go several times just to watch the action before trying to buy a car. Get comfortable with how quickly the vehicles move across the auction block, the platform where they are sold.


  • Inspect and verify

You can usually inspect the cars before the bidding, but most auctions won’t allow a test drive. All you can do is sit in the car, start it and possibly put it in gear. Bring a friend. Preferably, bring a car-savvy friend or even a mechanic with you. But whoever your wingman is, tell them what you want to buy and how much you’re willing to spend. Their job is to keep you from getting overly excited.




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