Car Auction Tips for first time Bidders

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Posted on 21st October 2019




Never been to a car auction before?  You’ll find them in most major cities with large auction houses typically running like a well-oiled machine.  It’s a good idea to pop along and see how a car auction runs before bidding so you have an idea of what is involved, how much time you will need to allow for and great chance to ask the staff any questions.  Here are some other tips to ensure it’s a positive experience…


Do your homework

Ahhh, the internet. Isn’t it a great tool for finding out pretty much EVERYTHING.  Once you have a car in mind you’d like to bid on, we recommend researching reviews, used car price guides and the vehicle’s history.  If you have a vehicle identification number (VIN) you’ll be able to find its history online. 


Know little about cars?  Take someone who does

if you don’t know your transmission from your brake fluid find someone who can help you. If you don’t have the confidence to ask straight-talking car questions - it will show.  Take it for a test drive and if you like the way it drives, we recommend a pre-purchase check.  AANZ conduct independent pre-purchase vehicle inspections in New Zealand while RACQ and VIA offer the same service in Australia. 


Stick to your budget

Auction is the perfect place to get caught up in the moment and pay more than you intended to. The auction business thrives on it.   If you are actively bidding against another serious buyer, it is very tempting to ‘push the envelope’ (the one with the money in it!).   Know the car’s worth and try to keep a cool head when bidding.  You may not get it for a bargain, but you may buy it for a good price.  Know the point of when to stop bidding, otherwise what was the point of the auction?


Start the bidding low

Bidding will only go up, so start well below your top price. There’s no way of telling what the reserve is so don’t assume it is high.  Perhaps the seller needs a quick sale, perhaps not. 


Consider what car you need

A Mustang convertible isn’t going to help if you have 3 kids and a dog.  Many auction houses such as Turners in New Zealand have a great online tool where you choose your price, age, km, engine type and even safety ratings so you can drill down on which cars meet your criteria (saving you hours of endless scrolling). 





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