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Auction Information

The Role of Vehicle Auctions

The auction sector has for many years been a major contributory factor to the success of the used car trade in the UK. Auctions provide an important wholesale function to the trade, selling more than 2.5 million vehicles each year. They provide a fast and cost-effective option for selling vehicles, providing buyers with ready access to large numbers of cars. Vehicles are drawn from a wide variety of sources including fleet and leasing companies, local authorities, dealer part exchanges and even some car manufacturers. Auctions act as agents, using their skill and expertise to bring bury and seller together. Although primarily fulfilling a trade function many sales are open to the general public. This information is intended to provide guidance to private buyers at auction.

Why buy from auction?

Over the last ten years car auctions have become much more popular with private buyers as organisations such as the National Association of Motor Auctions have sought to raise the profile of the sector. There’s no better way to save money on the price of a car and it’s great fun and surprisingly simple to take part. Auctions offer a large selection of vehicles to suit everyone’s budget. Often these are well maintained ex-company cars complete with full service history and warranties. And for the convenience of the buyer, most auction companies segregate different vehicles into specific types of auction sale.

It can also be safer than buying privately where the legal redress is minimal. Vehicles at auction are checked with HPI Ltd or Experian’s Car Data Check subsequent to sale to seek to ensure that good title is being passed and that there are no outstanding financial agreements against them. Auctions are increasingly modern and well equipped, with undercover viewing, restaurants and other facilities.

How to choose an auction?

When choosing an auction to buy a car, it makes sense to choose one that is a member of the National Association of Motor Auctions, a division of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF); it represents a, broad mix of membership from the smaller family businesses to the larger national companies.

The Association has its own Code of Practice and Customer Charter, and only accepts into membership financially viable companies which can provide evidence of sound and accepted trading practice.

Its members are dedicated to providing a high standard of service to their customers whether corporate, trade, or the motoring public, and to providing a safe and professional alternative for customers wishing to buy or sell vehicles.

Buyers purchasing from a member can also benefit from the Federation’s Arbitration and Conciliation Service in the unlikely event of a disagreement.

Tips for buying at auction

Arrive at the auction in good time and check out the vehicles in the compound to see which meet your requirements. Always try to give yourself a choice of vehicles. It is often a good idea to go once or twice before you go to buy so that you can get a “feel” for the auction procedure.

Go with a knowledgeable friend if you have little product knowledge. There is not much time to check the car and no road test is possible prior to purchase.

Check the auction’s terms and conditions of trade as these may vary between different auctions. Some companies read out a synopsis of the main conditions and auction procedures prior to each auction.

Decide in advance how much you are prepared to pay and remember to take the indemnity charge into account.

Never bid over your budgeted amount – there will be plenty of other cars from which you can choose. Buy a model you know, since you will need to make an on the spot decision. You will usually be able to view cars beforehand but can examine the engine only when a car is started up and driven into the auction area.

Read the notice on the windscreen. All the relevant information will be on it – year on manufacture, make, model, if there is any MOT, road tax , what the mileage is and whether it is warranted or not. In particular check that the vehicle has not been an insurance total loss. Some vehicles come with an Engineer’s Report on the mechanical condition of the vehicle, a copy of which is affixed to the windscreen at the time of sale.

Auctioneers do not always spot unfamiliar bidders so make sure that your bid is noticed.

When the car comes into the hall to be auctioned ask the driver to open the bonnet and check the boot for signs of rust or damage.