Buying a used car at auction can be cheaper than from a dealer, but it also carries greater risks. These include:
- the possibility of no statutory warranty cover or Safety Certificate
- no cooling-off period
- no opportunity for a test drive
- inspection is limited to what you can see
- no assistance if major faults are found
Some auction houses provide a condition report however these are generally not the result of a full mechanical inspection so it may not list all defects.
An auctioneer is bound by many of the same requirements as a motor dealer and has to guarantee clear title.
Tips for buying at auction
- If you don’t know about cars, take someone with you who does.
- Listen to the auctioneer as they will give important information about the car and the conditions of the sale.
- Research the car you want to buy and determine a fair price for it.
- Set a value and don’t go over it – it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding.
- The price should be significantly less than what the retail price would be. This reflects the increased risk involved.
- Check if there is a buyer premium to be added to the successful bid.
Damaged vehicle auctions
Vehicles that have been damaged and written-off by insurance companies are usually sold at auction. They fall into two categories:
- Statutory write-offs are too severely damaged to be repaired and cannot be re-registered. Generally sold for spare parts or scrap.
- Repairable write-offs can only be re-registered once they have passed a Written-Off Vehicle Inspection (WOVI).
For people with the knowledge and skill, buying and repairing a wrecked vehicle can be seen as a cheaper option. However repair costs often exceed the vehicle’s value so shortcuts and poor repairs are common.
These cars inevitably end up on the used car market. This is why an independent vehicle inspection
and a PPSR check is a must for all used car purchases.