There are a number of
used vehicle sources such
as new car dealerships, used
car lots, rental car companies,
bank repossessions, auctions,
and private owners, etc.
Some of the best vehicle
buys and conversely, some
of the riskiest vehicle buys,
are from vehicle auctions.
So what are some tips that
can help you to have a
successful vehicle purchase
at an auction?
Well, the first and most
important thing is to do
your homework well
before you arrive at an auction. This involves knowing what vehicle or vehicles
fit your driving needs, learning where a specific vehicle’s identification numbers
are located, and possibly driving the vehicle or vehicles you have in mind at a dealer
to get an idea of how it should drive and sound when the engine is running. Other
auction tips include:
Carefully read the auction catalog or the online version with the goal of
gathering information. What is the history of this specific auction vehicle?
Some things to look for include: Does the vehicle have a complete ownership
trail? Is it a tribute or a recreation of a particular vehicle (many times such
‘recreations’ do not sell well in the open market and the owner’s only hope
to get rid of it is at an auction)? Does the vehicle seem out of place among
the other vehicles at the auction? The information in the auction catalog might
be the first sign that something does not add up. Therefore, read it with an eye
for things that do not add up!
Attend the auction in person. You can buy a vehicle by telephone, however,
would you really buy a vehicle without seeing it (it’s like a blind date – how many
really work out? And even after a blind date, you are not ‘stuck’ with the person.
However, you could get ‘stuck’ with a vehicle!). Has anyone bought a vehicle on
eBay that was better than advertised?
Register early as a bidder and have proof that you can buy a vehicle (you will need
a bank statement or a credit card). Also, expect to sign a contract that discloses the
fee that will be added to the winning bid. Be sure to get a list that provides the order
in which the vehicles will be auctioned. Cross off the vehicles you will not be
interested in. This will allow you to concentrate on vehicles of interest (remember,
you will have a lot to focus on. Work on being prepared, remaining calm, and
having a sense of control!). Avoid getting to the auction late which will result in
your possibly missing a vehicle of interest and your being behind a crowd of people
and in a poor position to see a vehicle.
Arriving at the auction well in advance will allow you to examine each vehicle
very closely. Is it original? Dose anything look peculiar? Does it sit well? Is
the paint good and the color correct? Is the engine correct? Are there any fluid
leaks (take a mat and a flashlight)? Do the vehicle identification numbers match
(you can even do a Car Fax on your cell phone)? Are there any documents or
repair/service records? If the owner is available, ask questions about the vehicle’s
history and work that has been done. If the owner responds that he ‘does not
know’ or he provides a ‘story’, move on. If the vehicle looks too good to be true,
it likely is!
Bidding on a vehicle is best done close to the auctioneer or ringmen where
your paddle and you can be seen. Be certain you have a price in mind and
avoid going over it. Consider bidding early because late bidding can possibly
set off a wave of bidding by others. Avoid visiting a bar or taking someone to
‘impress’, etc. If you are successful, remain low keyed as you might want to
bid on another vehicle in the future.
If you do buy a vehicle, having it shipped to your home comes last. Auction
houses have reputable shippers who will transport the vehicle in an enclosed
trailer. Avoid driving a vehicle home (unless the auction is locale and not far
from your home) as there is the possibility of a breakdown in an obscure location
that will cost big bucks (remember, you want to control the auction situation as
much as possible). Additionally, there is sales tax payable in the state where the
vehicle is registered.
The key to a possible successful vehicle auction experience is being informed,
controlling the situation as much as possible, inspecting the details, and a cool
and calm head. Do it better than the others and you may well have a great
Have an auto question or comment? You can email it to me at
Kbusch3@verizon.net. Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best
for the Price…” www.DriveTheBestBook.com.