Our top tips to buying a car at an auction


Avoid getting ripped off and learn to be a savvy car buyer with our top ten auction tips writes Geraldine Herbert

1) Do your research – it’s always a good idea to attend a few auctions before you think about buying. This will give you an idea of how auctions work and an understanding of the terms used and the conditions of sale.
2) Choose your car – know what you want to buy beforehand and have a good idea of what the car will be worth. Also do a history check on the car, companies such as Motorcheck.ie or Cartell.ie provide a full report for around €35. A full check will tell you if the car has been stolen, has been written off by an insurer or if it is subject to outstanding finance or whether it is a UK import.
3) Check the car – check that all the paintwork is consistent on all parts of the car, if not it may have been damaged and repaired cheaply. Under the bonnet look for any obvious oil or coolant leaks, an oil leak can be easily identified by a film of oil on any part of the engine, whereas a coolant leak can be spotted by white marking. Open all the doors and check the boot and the spare tyre. The interior of a car can also reveal a lot, carpets in particular can show signs of very high mileage. Does the condition tally with the mileage and age of the car? Other tell-tale signs include worn-out upholstery but window winders and locks, wipers, dashboard instruments, pedal condition and door sills should also be checked for signs of wear.
4) Get ready to bid – at some auctions you have to register before making a bid.
5) Be patient – sometimes the hunt can be more thrilling than the kill, so take your time, look around and don’t bid on the first car just because it’s there.
6) Know your budget and stick to it – set your maximum bid limit because once the hammer falls you must complete the sale. Do not be pressurised into making bids that you cannot afford. Remember, you will still have to pay for insurance and so factoring this into the price is also a good idea.
7) Payment terms – check the payment terms before the day of the auction. Make sure the auction house accepts cheques, debit or credit cards. Ask about deposits, commission and extra charges also.
8) Be familiar with selling terms – when describing the car the auctioneer may use one or more of the following terms: (i) “No major mechanical faults” – cars sold under this description should not have any major faults in the following: the engine, gearbox, clutch, brakes, steering, transmission. (ii) “Specified faults” – the auctioneer will read out any particular defects notified by the seller. (iii) “Sold as seen” (and with all its faults if any). Auctioneers sometimes describe such vehicles as being sold “without warranty” this phrase means exactly the same as “As Seen”.
9) Other Terms and Conditions – by placing a bid you are accepting the auctioneer’s terms and conditions. Be clear on these terms and conditions before you place a bid.
10)Take your vehicle away – once you have completed the paperwork and collected the keys/ documents the car will be released to you.


Geraldine Herbert

22nd October, 2019

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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