Bidding for a Bargain

Car auctions are not just the home of dodgy Arthur Daley’s looking to fill their forecourts with overpriced old bangers.

Going with the right approach can bag a bargain.

In fact, auctions are proving an increasingly popular way to buy a car.  About 12000 vehicles a week are sold at auction, with approaching 10 per cent of these going to private buyers.

They’re Not eBay

Real auctions are very different to bidding on eBay; a sale can be over in seconds.  And if you win the bid, there is no going back.  So here is a guide to doing a deal at an auction.


Just as you would when buying from any source, inspect the car you have your eye on thoroughly.  Look at the online catalogue in advance to narrow down the cars that could be of interest to you.  Then, at the auction itself, there should be a time when you can inspect the cars in the flesh – or rusty steel as the case may be.  These windows are usually for an hour or two before the auction begins.  Engine, bodywork, interior, electrics and tyres are the places to look.


Before a particular car is sold, it will be driven to the rostrum and described.  Buyers need to listen to this description carefully, since it provides a legally binding description from which the car should not differ.  Look out for phrases such as ‘sold as seen’ which is auction speak for ‘this car may have faults’; ‘specified faults’ will be followed by a list of the problems with the vehicle.  ‘No major mechanical faults’ means as it says, and ‘sold with a warranted mileage’ means that the car has been independently inspected.

Set Your Limit

It is very easy to get caught up in the thrill of bidding.  But find out beforehand what the car should be going for.  Looking at other auction sites will help, and a quick trawl through online car sales sources will give a clue of an absolute maximum to pay.  Generally, buying from auction should be cheaper than buying from even a private seller.

Go to three or four just as an observer, so you get to see how auctions work.  Then, with the shortlist of cars from which you would like to buy, have a clear upper limit in mind and don’t exceed it.  So many cars are sold at auction that another one will soon be up for sale if the car you wanted goes over your price.

If You Get Your Car?

It becomes immediately yours.  You will need to pay a deposit, and organise insurance and tax.  Most auction houses will offer drive home tax and insurance services.

So, what are you waiting for, sell your car to The Car Buying Group and get your next car at auction! Happy hunting!

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