How to avoid buying a lemon at a car auction

How to avoid buying a lemon at a car auction

Buying a car at an auction is an effective way to save money and to find a unique model that might not be available in dealerships otherwise. It is also a thrilling experience, but you run the risk of buying a lemon from car auctions if you do not know what to look for. If you are thinking of getting your new car from an auction, read on below for tips on how to avoid buying a lemon.   

Check for recalls and defects for models

One of the first steps to take when looking at auction cars is to make a list of all of the cars that interest you, including the make, model and model number. You will need to use this list to research whether or not the specific car has been recalled and what defects it might have.

The recall information is important, as it will tell you why the model is no longer for sale or in use, making your decision on which car to choose that much easier. It will save you from having to find out about defects only after the fact of buying the car, so be sure to do your homework before placing any bids on cars that catch your eye. The dealer or bank will usually provide this information, but there is no harm in doing extra research before such a major purchase.

Obtain a VIN report

Once you have found out whether the make and model of the car you like has been recalled at all, the next step to take is to request a VIN report. You can check the vehicle online with free tools or you can ask the dealer to do this check for you.

A VIN report will tell you whether the vehicle has been reported stolen or if it has been reported as a salvage vehicle. The report will help you to identify a car that has a history of problems, and knowing if a car has been reported as stolen will help immensely in choosing a vehicle that is not a lemon and has not been involved in any criminal activity. It is best to avoid cars that have problem histories, as you will eliminate any extra costs down the road.

Think like a mechanic

When buying at an auction, you are usually not able to take the car for a test drive. You and the other bidders are allowed a quick inspection before moving onto the actual car auctions, which makes it very difficult to see if there are any mechanical issues with the car’s handling and operation.

This means you have to rely on your eyes and ears to pinpoint any potential issues. Ask to take a look under the bonnet, and make note of anything that looks damaged. Look for any cosmetic damage to the exterior, as this could mean that the car was in an accident. If you feel that you are at a complete loss when it comes to car inspection and mechanics, bring along a friend or family member who is more automobile savvy and ask them to perform the inspection when the time comes.

Research, research, research

A little homework goes a long way, so be sure to look for as many details about the cars on offer at the car auctions as possible. You can search online in catalogues or go to different dealerships with a make and model to see how much the same car would cost when bought from them.

Use a car calculator to help you figure out the value of the cars on offer to see if you are getting the best value for money, and always be sure to read reviews about both the car and the auction house before placing any bids. Focus on the mileage, age, condition and number of owners when looking for information about a car that has caught your eye.

‘As Is’ really means ‘As Is’

This is an important thing to remember when buying at car auctions: you will be getting the car ‘as is’. This means that any changes you want to make to the car once you own it will be done at your own expense, whereas if you were buying from a dealer you could ask them to modify your car as part of the deal.

You will be buying a car ‘as is’ meaning that all the damages and problems come along with it. This means that you will have to have a sharp and observant eye when examining the cars at auction, in order to avoid buying a car that has a lot of problems. Buying a car ‘as is’ is a risk but it can end up being a fantastic decision, as you can find the car of your dreams. However, remember that you cannot return the car to the auction house if there are defects or issues down the road.

Authored by: mjones

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