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How To Buy A Car At Auction

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

How To Buy A Car At Auction

Matthew Kirkman
June 20, 2013


If you're looking to buy a car, there are several ways you can start searching for one - internet, magazines, local dealers etc - but there's nothing quite like the excitement, anticipation, and thrill of participating in an auction… as long as you do it right.

Preparation Is Key

Before jumping blindly into the world of auctions, make sure you're prepared. Attend an auction first as a visitor (this point is especially important if you've never been to one before) and see how everything works. Auctions can be fast-paced and confusing for beginners, so it would be wise not to bid at your first one. Go, look around, take notes, and attend your second auction more prepared, relaxed, and ready to have a go yourself. Also do some research on the car (or cars) you have your eye on so you're prepared for the kind of price it will go for, as well as any other features or issues about the make and model you should be aware of. You should also note that when buying at an auction, your usual legal rights may not apply: ask to read the house's T&Cs and be aware of 'sold as seen' disclaimers.

Decide On Your Budget And Stick To It

This point is important when buying anything, of course, but it's so much more relevant at an auction, where the excitement of bidding can sometimes overtake the well-planned-out budget you have in your mind. Know what you can afford, and don't go over it. It may be worth taking along a trustworthy friend to keep you grounded during an adrenaline-fuelled bidding war.

Inspect The Vehicle

If you were buying from a private seller or dealer, you would want to inspect the car before handing over any money, and it's no different at an auction. If you don't know too much about cars, think about taking along someone who does, so they can inspect the vehicle on your behalf. Try and discover as much as you can about the car and its history - check the entry form for this - and it's also worth asking the auctioneer for a trial period if you end up with the winning bid.


When you've bought a new car, a private number plate can be a great way to conceal the age of your car, give your car a more exclusive look, or even just invest your money. If you're looking for private number plates, you can find plenty more information by visiting the Platehunter website.



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