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Have you ever wondered how car auctions work? In this guide, you'll understand how to buy cars at auction and the questions you need to ask yourself.
4 Mins

How Do Online Car Auctions Work?

Lewis Findley
Lewis Findley

Online Used Car Auctions

Online car auctions can be a fantastic way to buy a car.

Full of variety, you can find an array of vehicles such as performance cars, prestige cars, classic cars, commercial cars, hatchbacks, SUVs and more!

However, there are still questions being asked about online car auctions, so we created this guide to explain how they work and how to be safe online when buying cars.

How to buy a car at auction online

To buy a car from an auction online, you will need to be registered to the auction.

Once you create an account you will be able to connect to our auctions and participate once they start.

The auctions we provide are timed-online which means the auction is held over a period of time and this allows you to research the lot and bid with confidence.

Why do people buy cars at auction?

The reasons why people buy cars at auction can vary. For example, you could buy the classic car you always dreamed of or a second-hand performance car that is hard to find.

However, one of the biggest reasons are the potential savings for car owners and the resale value for second-hand sellers. 

These potential savings have attracted a variety of bidders which include traders, dealers and car owners.

Is it safe to buy cars from online auctions?

Online auctions can be a safe place to buy vehicles but it's necessary to understand how the auction you're thinking of joining actually works.

At William George, the cars that we put in auction contain important information such as year, miles, condition, fuel, transmission and more!

In addition, vendors are vetted to ensure they meet our standards and this is to ensure online bidders can bid safely at auction.  

We also create guides for new and existing bidders so that their auction experience can be as best as it can be. 

Tips for buying a used car at auction

Before you decide to bid/register in an online vehicle auction, here are some things you can do before you bid on a car.

1) Narrow Your Interest

What you will find in used car online auctions are numerous vehicles that can overwhelm a bidder who is not completely convinced of what they need.

Before you register for the auction, you can take a detailed look at the catalogue and by doing this, you can narrow your interests to a few lots.

This will enable you to start your research and develop a bidding strategy.

2) Do Your Homework

After researching a vehicle, you’ll get a general idea as to how much it is worth. This will aid you when developing your bidding strategy.

It’s important to remember not to get lost in a bidding war which can lead to you going over your estimate.

It’s vital that you are aware of how much you are bidding on lots because bids placed online are considered genuine. 

3) There’s Time, Don’t Rush

Online used car auctions usually last over a period of time, so you won't need to unleash your full bidding strategy on the day of the auction!

Instead, you can watch how the vehicle(s) progresses throughout the auction and bid accordingly.

Tip – Some auction houses, like William George, allow for a maximum bid to be placed and this means you will not need to watch the auction for the entire time as bidding is done on behalf of you.

4) Factor the fees into your budget

Online auctions usually contain fees such as buyer's premiums and various taxes.

It's important to factor this into your budget to avoid any surprises.

You can find the fees attached to the auction in the important information, T&Cs or contacting the auction house.

5) Inspect the car, if you can

Online auction houses, like us, William George, allow you to inspect the vehicle.

This opportunity allows you to thoroughly inspect the vehicle and ask the owner any questions that will help with your research.

With us, you can view the vehicle up to 24 hours before the auction ends.

If you inspect the vehicle, you can use this checklist to identify any issues with the car.

Final Words

Bidding for a used car can be a daunting process. It's the third biggest household expense. 

NAMA reported that each year, 2 million cars are sold at auction. This accounts for 43% of the UK wholesale market which is roughly £43bn. 

Due to that reality, we created this online car auction guide to help you ask yourself the right questions before you place a bid on a used car at auction. 

Could this guide be helpful to anyone? Let them know by hitting the share button.   

What does a used car look like in auction? Hit the button below and take a look at what cars you can find with us in auction!