Buying cars at car auctions can be a good way of saving money on an important household purchase. James Foxall at The Telegraph says that around 10% of cars sold at car auction in the UK go to private buyers rather than dealers, which means that it can definitely be done by you, too.
Foxall recommends thoroughly researching the car make and model beforehand, checking on market prices, and visiting the auction beforehand if possible too. Remember that auction houses levy buyers’ fees on top of purchase price, so factor all of these things in before carefully setting your budget.
Finding a good deal at a car auction will mean putting the work in, but the financial reward can offset this. When you buy second hand at a garage or dealership, you’re often just buying a car which has been sold at auction anyway, but with a hefty mark-up. Buyers are becoming more savvy about making money go further, and thanks to years of daytime TV programmes in which we see antiques, household junk, and even homes go up for auction, the car auction market is finally maturing. Confused.com’s Beginners’ Guide to Car Auctions recommends taking someone with you to the auction who knows about cars if you’re not an expert yourself. Make sure to check the car out thoroughly beforehand to get a feel for how it runs, and be prepared to walk away if it seems like a bad deal or the price runs too high. Remember, you usually won’t be able to take your new car back if it requires repairs.
As for securing yourself that sweet deal if you think you’ve spotted the car of your dreams, MoneyMagpie.com recommends paying a few percent over the “trade” price- which you’ll know because you’ll have done your homework beforehand- in order to get rid of the trade bidders. There’s the administrative side of it to take care of, too: make sure you bring photo ID (your driving license is usually a good idea) and proof of address, too. The auctioneer or the auction catalogue should provide details of the vehicle’s road tax, mileage, and service history. Finally, at auctions, cash is king. While it’s possible to pay by credit card, a surcharge of 3% is often demanded.