If you are looking for a way to get a great deal on a used car, a public auto auction may be the ticket; it is also a very efficient way to shop given you can look at a large number of vehicles all in one go.But, just showing up and throwing around some bids won’t cut it. Like any other scenario that finds you considering a previously owned vehicle, you have to do some background work to minimize the risk of driving off with a ‘lemon.’ Here are just a few helpful tips for navigating this scenario.
Do Your Research on Vehicles
One of the reasons many people pay more for cars than they should is simply they have no idea what the cars are worth. This is an important step that is often overlooked, but shouldn’t be, regardless of the method you plan on using to secure a used car. The auction will typically provide an inventory of the vehicles that will be available-check it out and start researching any promising candidates.
Once you get an idea of the higher and lower end of the price scale for the types of cars you are thinking about buying, you can use these numbers to formulate a budget, a budget you should not exceed.
Make Sure You Thoroughly Read through the Auction’s Terms and Conditions
Ah, the terms and conditions—the very important stipulations that we often fail to read. How many times have you just clicked ‘I agree’ online without even glancing, or just flipping right to the signature page on a written document? Most times, this will not come back to bite us. But, if we do have a problem, we run the risk of not having any recourse because we were informed ahead of time. Buying a car at a public auction is one of those times when you really want to read through the terms and conditions—you don’t want to go into this blindly. It is important you know exactly what fees are involved in the purchase, and the procedure for completing the purchase should you buy a car—this can vary between auction houses. For example, some will require a deposit, and expect payment in full within 48 hours, if you are not paying in full the day of purchase. If there is anything unclear in what you read, make sure you ask questions and get clarification.
Inquire about Inspections
Some auction houses allow the public to get out on the floor and inspect the vehicles a couple of hours prior to the bidding. If you don’t know a lot about cars, it is imperative you bring someone with you who does. If you decide to buy a car see if an inspection is available at the auction house. If anything questionable is found, you can work with the seller to lower the purchase price, or decide not to take it.
Attend a Few Auctions to Get an Idea of How Things Work
Before you go to an auction with the intention of leaving with a car, it is a good idea to go to a couple first to get an idea of what goes on there; this will give you more confidence on the day you want to actually make a purchase. Also, it will give you a good idea of what prices the types of cars in which you are interested are being sold. The auctioneers move through the cars very quickly, and if no one is biting on an opening bid, he may ask the crowd to get the ball rolling with a starting figure. If no one else is saying anything, and you really want the car, you might want to be the one to speak first because if no one is making a move, it is on to the next car.
Kelli Cooper has blogged about a variety of auto topics