6 Things to Consider Before Buying Cars at Auctions

Buying cars at auction is still the cheapest and the most effective way of buying a used car, especially for those on a budget. Car auctions might be the only place to find certain vintage cars or rare models. However, buying at an auction is not as simple and straightforward as we wish it were.

First-time buyers at an auction often find the process confusing and too fast-paced. Besides, the excitement makes people prone to overbidding. Then there is the fact that not all auctioneers or sellers are honest, which makes buying a lemon a more common experience than many think.

Here are five things to consider before purchasing the cars at an auction to avoid lemon purchases.

1. Have a target car or mode

Buying a car, whether at an auction or from a dealership, is a significant investment. Consequently, you need to decide on the vehicle you want before registering to bid at car auctions in your area. The best practice is to have an exact model in mind. Other people love having wiggling space by having minimum requirements for a car, such as a manufacturer and year of production.

If you cannot do this before the auction day, arrive at the auction place early, get a copy of the catalogue of vehicles on sale and decide on the one you will bid on.

2. Understand it is easy to overbid

Any price is possible when buying cars at auction. You can buy a luxurious well-maintained sports car for a song while another buys a junk car at a fortune price. Therefore, have your budget ceiling. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of self-control to stick to a budget. So, be disciplined. Just because you enjoyed bidding against someone does not mean you will enjoy the car.

3. Get to the auction early

Being the early bird in auction allows you to see the vehicles, assess them, and ask questions if you have any. This is a luxury that those who come when the auction is about to begin never have. It is also the time to mark out a fall-back car in case you are outbid in the one you are interested in.

Again, since you cannot drive-test cars at an auction, you need a thorough visual inspection. Arriving early gives you the time to do this.

4. Come with an expert friend

Two are always better than one. Find a friend who is experienced with cars, such as mechanic, and come with them. They will help you tell a lemon from the pack and advice on the money to put on any car of interest.

5. Understand the implications of “sold as seen.”

It is essential to listen to every word the auctioneer says about the car that you wish to buy. A common statement is “sold as seen.” It means that the vehicle is sold without any warranty from the auction house or the owner. It is the same as “sold without warranty.” It means that any faults that come with the car are your responsibility.

6. Register first

You need to be approved by the auction house to place bids. For example, when you search for car auctions in Melbourne, auction houses will require that you register to be eligible to bid. They then crosscheck your credit-worthiness before allowing you into the room.


Auction is a game of caution. Always remember that an auction bid is a legally binding agreement; you cannot rescind. Therefore, conduct your research before going for an auction.

It is also advisable to visit auction centres as an observer several times before bidding yourself. Furthermore, take no chances; insist on a car with a warranty, especially if you are not buying junk cars. 

Emily Lamp

Emily Lamp is a freelance writer, working closely with many aspiring thinkers and entrepreneurs from various companies. She is also interested in travel lifestyle and loves sharing her travel experiences through her writing.

Emily Lamp has 11 posts and counting. See all posts by Emily Lamp

2 thoughts on “6 Things to Consider Before Buying Cars at Auctions

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