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As more individuals look towards auction the purchase a reliable used car, the bidding can be quite competitive. But before even starting to bid, you should know whether or not the car is worth bidding for. We have a few tips for you that will help you avoid being duped at car auctions.


When we mention car auction, the first thing that probably comes to mind are luxury cars: vintage Jaguars, Shelby Cobras, and Bentleys. Unfortunately, we are not referring to a car auction for vintage and luxury cars. There is no way around paying big money for those. We are talking in terms of government and public auctions which have normal cars such as a Crown Victoria by Ford which has been on police duty for over six years or a ’98 Chevy Camaro that was used in a bank robbery. These are pretty much the cars you normally see on the roads and the point to get them at an auction is a chance to get them for cheap.


There has been an increase as far as interest goes in used car auctions since the downfall of the economy and the tightening of credit rules. People who normally would lease a car now find it easier to just buy with cash and look for the cheapest option out in the market. A market like the US where automobile ownership is fairly high, it is hard not to own a car especially if you do not live in a big city.


When it comes to used car auctions, there are two types:

Government Auctions: at government auctions you normally find cars that were used in government offices. Whether it is numerous cars from the police force or any other government institutions. The good thing about these cars is you know exactly what you are getting. The mileage, maintenance and any other information you are given will more likely be true. However, you won’t be able to take it for a test drive so you need to have a trained eye to spot any issues with the car.


Government auctions were great for bargain hunters but now with the grown popularity, it may be tough to get a bargain. The competition at these auctions are stiff and at times you may end up paying more than you set out for to get a car, so it is important you get a car that will not give you any trouble.


Public Auctions: Like with government auctions, you cannot test drive a car before you buy it at a public auction. Cars at public auctions have become much more unreliable than ever before. A decade ago, the cars you would get at public auctions would have been decent, maintained cars. Now these auctions are mostly for mechanics. You will find accidented cars, cars which have their mileages rolled back, so you can’t really trust what is on offer at public auctions. Yes, you will find these cars at a cheap price but these are mostly cars that have either been turned down by wholesale dealer auctions. Some of these cars may even be from hurricanes or floods. So if you do not have a sharp eye, there is a chance you may be tricked into getting a really bad deal, no matter how much of a bargain you may think it is.


To help you navigate through both government and public auctions and know which car you should bid on, we have some tips for you.


Don’t overburden yourself

Many people at auctions feel they can do just about anything. By this we mean, they see a car that is selling for cheap so rather than seeing its flaws they tend to ignore them. They tell themselves that they can fix anything that is wrong with the car, when really they can’t. This turns out to be a huge problem as after taking the car home and having it looked at they realize they will have to spend a lot more in repairs than they initially anticipated. So don’t bid on a car that you can’t ultimately fix yourself just because it is for a low price.


Be vigilant

If you are looking to purchase a car at an auction, you will need to be a lot more vigilant while inspecting the car. You need to know how to spot paint over spray, scored brake discs, uneven sheet metals, and so on. You need to inspect every little aspect of the car with not only your eyes but also hands, nose, and whatever you can that may help you. The reason why we say that is because the eyes can be deceived sometimes. Remember, these auctions are trying to sell these cars so they are sure to polish and touch up on these cars so they are more likely to sell. So you need to be very careful when inspecting the car.


One way to tell if the car hasn’t been in a major accident is to check its VIN. The VIN is at the base of the windshield along with other parts of the car such as the trunk lid and the door. You want to note the VIN down from the windshield and make sure it matches the other VIN numbers you find. If it doesn’t that means that part of the car was changed. You know a car had a major accident if the door or the trunk lid had to be changed.


Not only that but you should examine the dipsticks of the car. The oil or transmission fluid dipstick should be pulled out and checked. If the lubricant is clear and clean that means the car was maintained, if not then stay clear.


Know your auctions

It is important to know whether you are at a government auction or a public one. This helps you decide whether or not a small bump on the back of the car is actually something you should worry about or not. At government auctions, small bumps and dents are usually just that and don’t necessarily mean anything major has happened to the car. The same cannot be said about public auctions. So you should know exactly which auction you are at and then bid accordingly.


Know the value of the car

You should do your research before you head to the auction or even while you are there, thanks to mobile data. Search the value of the car you are bidding on so you know what to bid on it. Knowing the market value will allow you to stop bidding on it if and when it exceeds a certain price tag. Unless your pride gets the better of you.


Test the waters

You should probably go to auctions just to see how they work before you actually bid in one. This allows you to really get the sense of how it works and learn to be more mindful at auctions. You need to be aware of bidders that constantly bid on every car to bring the price up. Just going to auctions without bidding will teach you how to keep an eye out and observe from the outside.

Do not get caught up in a bidding war

Many bidders let their ego and pride get the best of them. Yes, no one likes to lose but when it comes to auction, a win may actually be a huge loss. So have a budget set out for the car and stick by it. If someone outbids you so be it, the last thing you want is to spend hundreds of extra dollar on a car to find out it is in far worse condition than you thought. Which means you will need to spend more money on it. So be smart, have a budget and stick to it.


Bidding at auctions is not a walk in the park. If you are not familiar with cars and don’t have a keen eye, then you are better off staying away from auctions. If you are familiar with cars and know how to properly inspect them then auctions can be a great way for you to get a car at a huge bargain.