If you’re looking to cut the cost of getting on the road, then local fleet auctions can be a really great place to start. Ex-company cars, these vehicles are usually in decent condition with a full service history – and although they may have slightly higher-than-average mileage, with a newer model in a quality brand such as an Audi or BMW, this doesn’t tend to be a significant issue. But if you’ve never bought a car this way, how does it work? What do you need to know and look out for?
Where do I find an auction?
With over 12,000 car auctions happening each week across the UK, you won’t have to wait long for one in your area. There’s everything on offer from specialist vehicles and classic cars to ex-police auctions, so do your research carefully. It’s possible to snap up a bargain at a wholesale price, but be aware that bidding can move quickly, and you’re up against professional motor traders. You’ll need to arm yourself with a bit of know-how and the confidence to get what you want.
What do I bid on?
Knowing where to start can be tricky. Decide in advance what vehicles are likely to meet your requirements, as the most important thing is checking them out before the auction gets underway. Look closely at the listings online and in the catalogue on the day of the auction. They should provide some details such as general condition, mileage and a brief history of the vehicle. It’s a good idea to take a look at a car valuation site or a selling site to see what similar condition same models are selling for. This will give you an idea of how much to pay. One to two hours before the auction, you’ll be able to look at the car in person. Use the time to have a quick look at the engine, body, electric and interior to note any damage. Most auction houses now offer an independently verified check of the vehicle’s condition, but it’s always best to check yourself.
What happens during the auction?
Each car is driven into the hall and briefly described by the auctioneer. Listen carefully, as what is said here is legally binding and may contain information that overrules the printed or online description. ‘Sold as seen’ means that you accept the vehicle without complaint about the mechanical condition, while ‘specified faults’ will precede a list of defects. The auctioneer then calls for a starting bid, and bids usually rise in £100-£200 increments, although this may be significantly more if it’s a high-value or rare vehicle. Try to attend a couple of auctions before you intend to bid to get a feel for the process and environment.
What about afterwards?
If you’re the winning bidder, you’ll pay a deposit after the action which can be 10-20% of the car’s value. You’ll go to the cashier’s office to sign documents, arrange payment of the balance and do the admin. You’ll also need to pay a ‘buyer’s fee’ at 4-6% of the value. Remember, you’ll now be responsible for taxing and insuring the vehicle before being able to drive it away, but most auction houses offer short-term insurance cover that allows you to get the vehicle home.