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Buying Used Cars at Auction: 5 Top Tips

Buying a used car at auction can literally save you thousands of dollars. But it’s not a place for the unwary. Its not like going to your local dealer, there’s no comfy sofas, no free internet and no complimentary coffee.

But that doesn’t mean you should be scared off, with a little homework and a game plan buying at auction can be a pleasant experience. Especially when you think about the money you’ll save. 

With that in mind, here are the top 5 tips for buying a used car at auction. Take them onboard and you’ll walk away with the car of your dreams at a fraction of the cost. Ignore them and you’ll buy a dud at well over the wholesale price.

1. Get In Early

Most car auctions open several hours before the sale is due to begin, aim to get there early and take a good look at the cars. In most cases the keys will be in the ignition so turn them over and look for any blue smoke coming out of the back. If you know very little about cars take a knowledgeable friend with you to help spot any problems.

2. Do Your Homework

Have a think about what kind of car you want before you go to an auction. Take a look at some magazines and read some reviews before you get there. Auctions can be busy hectic places and the sheer number of cars available can be overwhelming, so it helps to narrow your search to just a few popular makes and models.

3. Decide on a Price and Stick to It

Once you’ve decided on the make and model of the car you’d like, try to establish a price for it. Have a look at your local car lot and see what kind of price there going for. Remember condition and mileage is very important so always take that into account.

Once you’ve decided on a price for a vehicle, STICK TO IT. Don’t ever be tempted to go over your limit, not even by a $100 dollars. It’s very easy to get carried away with the bidding, especially if it’s your first time. So only bid up to your set limit and then walk away.

4. Don’t jump in too early

I know it’s exciting, the car you’ve been waiting for all afternoon has just been driven into the ring and it’s time to get down to business. But wait NEVER start bidding straight away, a professional will never do this and neither should you. I always wait until the auctioneer has raised his hammer for the first time before I place my first bid. This way you’ll have a much clearer idea of what the cars going to go for and only serious bidders will be left.

5. Don’t forget about the buyer’s premium

When you decide on a price for a car don’t forget to take the buyers premium into account. The auction makes its money buy adding a premium to the sale price of the car, sometimes it can be as high as 5%. So always take this into account when trying to establish a fair price for the vehicle.

There is nothing worse than getting carried away at auction and paying over the odds for a car and then having to pay the buyers premium on top, you may as well have bought the car from a dealer in the first place.

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