What to expect at a Public car auction

Public car auctions can be a great way to find a good car for anybody who is on a budget and who knows a little something about cars and car mechanics. As with anything else in life one has to be aware of what to expect in order to avoid costly pitfalls. Buying cars in general can be a process which can feel stressful at times, so being prepared and having a little knowledge can go a long way toward simplifying the process. Buy at a public sale is no different and this article is here to give you some insight into how it all works and to get an idea of what to expect.

1. Public auctions are just that, open to the general public. Does that mean there will be no dealerships there buying cars as well? No. Anyone can attend a public sale as long as they follow the posted rules and procedures for the sale in question.

2. Most public auctions will require at a minimum a valid driver license and some form of refundable deposit to bid. The amount and type of deposit payment will differ depending the auction facility. Its a good idea to read all materials and ask questions prior to registration.

3. Most sales will have a set time for previewing the vehicles to be sold. Dates and times are generally announced well before the sale day. Making sure to attend the preview date(s) will be an important step in being well prepared for the auction. This time allows the bidder to not only look for a car or cars which interest them, but also to inspect the cars for any and all defects, wear and tear, and mechanical problems before purchasing. It is important to remember that most public auctions will not allow the bidders to test drive the cars, so be sure that you consider possibly bringing a mechanic friend or someone with some experience working on cars with you to the preview day.

4. Since you will most likely not be the only person bidding on the cars you find, it is a good idea to choose a few cars which you feel would suit your needs and rank them accordingly. This way if you are outbid by someone else, you will have other cars that you can try to win as they come up for sale. This will also help to curb your desire to continue a bidding war, which can cost you more money than you intended to spend.

5. It is a good idea to be aggressive when bidding on a car which you want to buy, but using caution and being prepared with a maximum dollar amount is a smart way to bid at any auction. Always having a predetermined stopping point before bidding begins and sticking to that thought out amount is the best way to avoid buyer’s remorse. Most public auctions do not allow bidders to back out of a purchase without losing their deposit money, so be careful.

6. Once you are the winning bidder on a vehicle and you are done, you can proceed to check-out. Being aware of all the taxes and fees which you will be required to pay is important and will save you from having sticker shock. Ask for a listing of all the potential fees associated with the purchase of a car when you register. In this way you will have a much better idea of what to expect at check-out and this can also be used when formulating your maximum bid amount.

7. Almost every auction will charge a “buyer’s premium”. This is a fee collected by the auction facility. It may be a straight percentage of the winning bid amount or a sliding scale. Be aware that if they charge this fee, it is in addition to the other fees charged such as tax, title, license or documentation fees.

8. Generally, the auction facility will be handling all of the vehicle titling for you. This means that you will complete all needed paperwork at check-out and will receive a new “clean” title once all the filing has been done through the local tax office and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Each state is different and you should expect different results depending on which state the auction takes place. Generally the process is straight forward and you should expect to receive your title and/or registration within about six weeks. Make sure that you look over all the paperwork before you leave so that there are no errors or surprises later.

9. Once you’ve paid for your car and finished all the paperwork, you will be able to take your car by showing the auction staff the paid receipt. Most staff are friendly and very helpful people who will go out of their way to assist you in getting the car out of the facility quickly and safely. If you buy a non running vehicle you will obviously need to make arrangements to have the car towed. Make sure to provide the tow driver with a copy of your paid receipt before sending them to retrieve the car.

Hopefully this article is helpful in giving you a little insight into how the basics of buying cars at a public auction work. Being prepared with knowledge about what to expect and what to do will go a long way toward making this type of car buying a great success. Being armed with important information is the best way to avoid most of the drama and pitfalls associated with buying at an auction event. Buying cars at an auction is a wonderful way to get a car for an affordable price. Now that you are better informed, go out and visit an auction for yourself. Attending an auction is free, exciting and is a good way to see what it is all about before you decide to register to be a bidder. Happy bidding and good luck!