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 several 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 recent years vehicle 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 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 or Experian’s Car Data Check prior to sale to ensure that good title is being passed. Auctions are increasingly modern and well equipped, with undercover viewing and restaurants.

How to choose an auction

When choosing an auction to buy a vehicle, 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. It represents a broad range of members, from smaller businesses to the larger national companies.

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

Members are dedicated to providing a high standard of service to their customers whether corporate, trade, or public, which gives a professional alternative for buying or selling 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 familiar with the auction procedure

Check the auctions terms and conditions of sale as these may vary between different auctions. The auctioneer will read out the main conditions and procedures prior to each auction.

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

Read the description on vehicle window. All the relevant information will be on it such as make, model, MOT, mileage, service history, etc.

You could be in a crowded saleroom with many bidders so make sure that your bid is noticed.