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Buying a Car at An Auction

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 24 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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If you know what you’re doing you can pick up a bargain at a car auction – but the real emphasis is on the last part – you really have to know what you’re doing, since vehicles are sold as-is. The best vehicles appear at dealer auctions, rather than those open to the public, though. So where can an ordinary person find a good car at auction? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the answer’s on eBay. They’ve had a vehicle auction arm for several years, and with due care you can find a real deal.

How Car Auctions Work

The auction process is the same as anything else on eBay. You place a bid, and can keep on bidding, hoping you win the vehicle at the end of the auction. That’s simple enough, but a car isn’t a book or a dress. Photographs and a description alone aren’t going to tell the whole story.

You can search cars for auction by make or model, or you can refine the search by looking for vehicles within a radius of your own address – you decide how far. This is an important factor, unless you really want to travel to the other end of the country for a vehicle.

What To Look For When Buying a Car at Auction

The great advantage of searching listings close to home is that you can easily inspect a vehicle that catches your attention. A cardinal rule is never bid on a car you haven’t examined – preferably with a mechanic, unless you’re very able in that field yourself. Test drive it, so you can not only get a feel for the vehicle and whether it suits you, but also its handling and faults on the road.

If you’re searching for a vehicle to buy, you’d do best to contact the seller early in the auction, to allow plenty of time for viewing. Take care to view the documents pertaining to the car too – the service record, if available, and the registration certificate, to be sure the seller really is the owner (the last thing you want is to spend money only to discover the vehicle’s stolen; if that’s the case you’ll receive no compensation).

The more thorough you are in your examination, the less likely you are to end up either scammed or with a lemon. Beware, too, of any signs that the person selling the car is a dealer. Check his feedback; if many of the entries concern car sales, then you’re looking at a dealer. Also check the feedback for buyer satisfaction, as an indication of the seller’s general honesty.

If You Win The Auction

The people at eBay prefer buyers to pay via Paypal. Generally that’s a good idea, for the protections it offers a purchaser. But when you’re buying a car from someone, it might not be the best solution.

You might well do better to pay cash when you pick up the car. However, don’t just hand over the money. Inspect the vehicle again (and check the VIN – unscrupulous people have switched cars before!) before you pay

.The problem is that this method of payment negates your protections through eBay. However, an in-person inspection can save you a lot of problems later, so it becomes six of one and half a dozen of the other.

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