How to Buy a Car from an Auction
Copyright 2012 by Stephen Hather
Car auctions are a really excellent method of buying a car, but beware, because the inexperienced and unwary can end up with a dog and I’m not talking about a furry four legged type with a cold wet nose.
When buying a car the more traditional way ie from a dealer or direct from the owner, there are significant traps which the uninitiated can fall into.
But when buying from a car auction, the scope of these traps broadens considerably.
Car auctions are an excellent source of truly bargain cheap cars, but often hidden amongst the gems are usually some cars which are the dealer’s headaches.
Problem cars which dealers may be desperate to unload at any cost. Read a typical example here
Some of these problem cars are customer rejects, where the car has been sold or retailed, but small niggly problems have been found, which although not complex, are collectively too expensive for the dealership to rectify.
So they end up buying the car back, normally getting the customer to exchange it against another car from their stock.
If the customer insists, then the dealer will buy the car back in. Due to one reason or another, the dealership normally does not want to go through the same process with another customer and they get rid of the car through a car auction.
Normally entered in the car auction without warranty so there is no come back from the purchaser, it will be sold at a knock down price.
But not always, if there is someone bidding who is inexperienced and fails to pick up on the defects, which of course will not be obvious.
They can end up bidding on what they think is a sound car, to discover after they have paid for the vehicle the myriad of niggly problems.
Examples of niggly problems are air conditioning failing to work, no heater fan, rear wash wipe not working, heated rear screen not working completely, central locking not always working, courtesy light not working, radiator fan not working, one electric window not working etc. Each one not so difficult in itself, but several faults costly to fix.
There are also the dealer trade in problem cars. These are the ones which have more extensive and more expensive individual problems.
Maybe an overheating problem, reverse or other gear missing, jumping out of gear, oil pressure problem, engine management ecu problems and a wide cross section of other expensive defects that could cost a small fortune to fix.
These cars can masquerade as potential bargain buys camouflaged amongst all the other shiny, good examples offered at car auctions.
There is no deception selling cars at auction in this way. These cars are sold as seen, with no warranty.
So if you bid, remember, buyer beware.
To be safe, if you want to buy a car at a car auction, bid on the vehicles offered with warranty and stick to these.
Under no circumstances be tempted with the cars sold as seen, with no warranty or comeback, no matter how much of a bargain they may appear.
When you buy cars from a car auction with a warranty, after you have paid for the car you have a couple of hours to check that the car is as described.
If the purchaser discovers that there is a problem which needs to be addressed, the auction company will have an arbitrator, someone who has mechanical know how, who will inspect the car and decide whether your findings have some stature for redress.
Remember, whilst it is in the interest of the car auction company to sell as many cars as possible, they have to ensure that they conduct business in a truthful, correct and honorable manner.
Dissatisfied, unhappy customers are bad for business and with so many forums etc it is too easy to attract unwanted bad publicity.
If the arbitrator does find that your complaint is justified, he will then contact the vendor.
Following consultation between both parties the arbitrator will normally find a financial solution which is agreeable to both parties.
This will mean a reduction in the hammer sale price by the approximate cost of the repairs needed to get the car up to the original description of the car as supplied by the vendor.
If this is not possible, then the sale will be cancelled, and normally all monies will be returned to the purchaser.
However, for the vendor, if the car auction company arbitrator considers that the car has been seriously misdescribed, then they could ask the vendor to cover the lost sale commission.
This is rare though, as most dealers are known to the auction companies and the loss of the sale will be compensated by the many other cars and vehicles which the dealer will have bought and sold through the auctions over the years.
If you want to buy cars at auction you are pretty safe nowadays, providing you buy one which is entered with a warranty.
You should end up with a bargain and not a dog.