Paul Duchene, writing for Car and Driver, offers his take on how to make the best of an auto auction after providing insight into the risks. “Marry in haste, repent at leisure” is his way of introducing the greatest risk: paying too much! Considering that saving money is the typical perceived benefit of the auto auction, overspending would definitely qualify as a likely disappointment. As he notes, “Auctions are the fastest of fast tracks—you are betting you know what you want, that you can recognize a car’s strengths and faults, that you know what it’s worth, and that you have the cool head to stop bidding at that point.” He adds that auctions can be fun, but they are work.
First, he suggests reading the catalog. His goal is to identify the car and any hidden changes that may have occurred. A person doesn’t want to be tricked into buying a lemon.
Second, he recommends attending the auction in person because a first-hand examination will reveal more than what can be seen via the Internet, one strike against on-line auctions.
Third, he says to register early so you can be sure not to miss the car or cars that interest you. Here is where they confirm you can pay for any car you win in the bidding.
Fourth, examine the car closely. Bring along an expert if you are not one yourself. You are again seeking to confirm the car is what it claims, that it is in good condition beyond the shining of a new coat of wax, and so that you avoid surprises after you own the car.
Fifth, he advises standing where the auctioneer can see you clearly. Here he offers insights that only an experienced bidder could. Above all, however, is not going over your price limit in the excitement of the moment.
Finally, Duchene recommends having the car shipped to spare the risk of unexpected car repairs in an inconvenient place.
Duchene has plenty more to say. Get all the details at Car and Driver.