Everything you need to know about car auctions

Many people want to buy or sell cars at a car auction, but are not sure how it works. Others are concerned that they may get ripped off at auction by unscrupulous traders.

Many people want to buy or sell cars at a car auction, but are not sure how it works. Others are concerned that they may get ripped off at auction by unscrupulous traders. If this sounds like you, read on.

As long as you follow a few guidelines, you should be fine. You can sell your car at a reasonable price or save money by buying a car at below market prices. In fact, about 12,000 cars are sold at car auctions every week in the UK, and 10% are bought by private buyers. With a little help and guidance, you should find it straightforward to buy or sell a car at auction.

How to sell a car at auction in the UK

If you are a trader or a private individual, you can sell one or more vehicles at UK car auctions. Putting your car up for auction can be one of the simplest ways of selling an unwanted vehicle but remember that you will pay a commission to the auctioneer and the sale price may be less than for a private sale.

Of course, if there is a demand for your car and a few people are bidding on it, you could end up selling it for a lot more than you estimated. For many sellers, the ease of using car auctions is the main deciding factor for selling cars in this way.

There are two ways you can put your car up for auction. You can choose to sell your vehicle via an online auction, or you can opt to attend a physical auction house in person. Which method you decide to use is up to you.

Selling your vehicle at an online auction

Selling a vehicle via an online auction provides you with an easy and effective way to dispose of your car for the best possible price. There are a number of advantages associated with selling your vehicle online. For example, it is highly convenient, offering you a risk-free way to sell your car. It takes the hassle of having to place adverts and even reduces the chance of fraud and time wasters.

You can also expect you vehicle to sell very quickly. In fact, most cars sold at online auctions are snapped up within seven to 10 days. If it doesn’t sell straight away, you can place the vehicle in a re-run which can usually be done for no extra cost. Another benefit of selling a vehicle via an online auction is the fact that it will have increased exposure to potential buyers not just in your local area, but further afield too, meaning that it should sell quickly and easily.

To sell your car via auction, you’ll need to start by taking photographs of your vehicle, as well as its details including condition, service history and the number of owners. To make it more attractive to buyers, clean the car inside and outside thoroughly. It is a good idea to get this done by a professional car valet. You will also need to decide on a starting bid price. You will then need to submit this information to the auction website.

From here, the website will display your vehicle and the details you’ve provided for potential buyers to view. With any luck, you should then start to receive bids on the car.

Selling your vehicle online means there is no need to attend a physical auction house, which can take up a lot of your time, money and effort.

Selling your vehicle at an auction house

Alternatively, you can choose to sell your vehicle in person at a physical auction house. The easiest auctioneer to use is the one closest to you. If there are a few within a short distance, look at their websites to see what cars they sell.

Like with an online auction, you should send the auctioneer photographs and details of the car. The auctioneer will discuss the estimated value of the car and set a reserve price. The auctioneer will either collect the car or you can deliver it yourself.

When your car comes up for auction, the car will be driven to the front and the auctioneer will describe it fully. Bidders will bid for the car, and as long as the winning bid reaches the reserve price, the car will sell. After the auction, you will be contacted and told whether your car has sold or not. If it has sold, you will then receive payment minus commission.

How to buy a car at auction

If you’re looking for your next vehicle, why not buy it at auction? Before you decide what to bid on, inspect the vehicles you are interested in. The auction house or website will provide a description of each car, its condition and any obvious faults. If you’re visiting an auction house in person, you should check the bodywork, engine, electrical systems and tyres of any vehicle you like. Any faults should be described or it could be “sold as seen”, meaning it’s the buyer’s responsibility to look into them.

When the auction starts, you will be able to make your bid. Regardless of whether you are bidding in person or online, the auctioneer will ask for a specified amount for a starting bid. Bids will then rise in £100, £200 or more increments.

If you’re the top bidder, you’ll need to pay a deposit, which is usually at least 10% of the vehicle’s value.

The auctioneer may also specify the payment formats they take, so make sure you check that you have the type of credit or debit cards accepted.

Buy cars at auction online

Cars can be bought at online auctions. A live auction online system gives you access to the physical auction where you can bid against other bidders taking part.

The other type of auction is where you can make an online bid at any time of the day up until the end of the auction periods for each vehicle. This works in a similar way to eBay, with a fixed start and end time for bids. If you are the top bidder, and have met the reserve price if set, the car is yours.

One issue for online auctions is, although you can bid from anywhere, the car could be a long distance from you, so you will have to arrange for it to be delivered or travel to pick it up yourself.

How to get a car auction licence

If you want to set up your own car auction business, you may need a car auction licence for places like London, and other regional districts also require them. Check with your local council if you need a licence, and if so, you can obtain one from them.

How much is the buyer's fee at auctions?

The buyer's fee at car auctions is usually between 4% and 6% of the car’s value depending on the auctioneer. This is paid on top of the price of the car.

At Car.co.uk, we want your car buying experience to be smooth and straightforward. Auctions offer an excellent way of buying and selling cars, as long as you’ve done your homework and know how the process works.