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Beginner Tips for Car Auctions

The vehicles sold at car auctions are commonly retired out of government or company fleets, are trade-ins or repossessions. Due to the varied nature of these sources, there is often a wide range in quality. While some vehicles may be in relatively good condition, others may be third or fourth hand.

Use your discretion when visiting a car auction. If you’re a new attendee, be prepared to take a few visits to identify a vehicle you’re interested in and feel comfortable enough with the auction process to bid. The following are some general tips to be mindful of before heading to a car auction.

Do your research

Investigate the history of the auction to get a sense of it’s integrity. Attend the auction more than once to familiarize yourself with the process before you bid. A vehicle is a a big investment, and purchasing one that ends up costing more in repairs won’t be worth it in the long run.

Be diligent about inspection dates

Car auctions hold inspection dates prior to the auction where cars are parked in the parking lot and the public is able to examine them. Take note of these dates for the opportunity to check for surface damage on the body and cracks and tread wear on the tires.

Although you won’t be able to test drive the vehicle, you may be able to tell how the car’s previous owner simply by looking inside it. If it’s messy, it’s likely the vehicle didn’t receive proper maintenance during it’s previous life. If possible, bring a mechanic with you, or a friend who has good knowledge of cars and can spot a repair.

Create a budget

Find out as much as you can about necessary repairs during an inspection and factor these into how much you’re willing to spend on a car. A car that needs some repair may still be worthwhile if the purchase price is low enough, but you will have to estimate how much it will be. Bear in mind that cars at an auction are sold as-is – with no guarantees and no warranty.

Find out which fees apply

Read the auction terms and conditions before you go to make sure you’re clear on what fees are charged. On top of the bid amount, cars sold at auctions include sales taxes, and / or a buyer’s premium and other fees.

Check the VIN

For any car you’re interested in, take note of the VIN (vehicle identification number) located on the driver’s side of the interior dash. Then check other places where the VIN might appear – in the trunk under the spare tire, on the driver door jam, or the back wheel well.

If the numbers don’t match it’s possible that the car has been in an accident and rebuilt, which could indicate structural problems down the road.

Resist the urge to get competitive

If you end up in a bidding match with another person at the end of an auction, it’s only the auction house who wins. Know your budget and stick to it. The goal of going to a car auction is to get a used vehicle for a great price, not to beat another bidder in a contest.

Regardless of whether your car is used or new, an insurance policy that suits your needs and budget will offer you the protection you need to drive worry-free. Find out the many benefits of our auto insurance offering, including multi-vehicle savings, winter tire savings, and more.

Beginner Tips for Car Auctions

While there are many car auctions in Canada held exclusively for car dealers, some are open to the public and cater to those looking to buy a used vehicle.