A car auction can be fun and exciting especially for first-time bidders who don’t know what to expect. Sometimes you can get the deal of the century when buying a used car that works like new.

There are hundreds of private car auctions that take place all over the country. You can find them online and when to attend. Sometimes the government holds car auctions to get rid of fleets of old police cruisers. Be forewarned however, the competition is fierce. Taxi companies and car dealerships attend, and they are ready to shell out hard cash for well-maintained vehicles that they can pick up for next to nothing.

You will want to prepare beforehand and go in knowledgeable and ready to bid.

What to Consider Before Bidding at a Car Auction

Before you lay down your hard-earned money at a car auction here is what you need to know.

Tip 1 - Test Drive Before You Buy

If you have the option of test driving the vehicle before bidding, so do. If you don’t know about cars, bring a mechanic or friend who can check things out to be reasonably sure there are no significant defects.

Every auction may have different rules. For instance, Interstate Auto Auction gives the buyer two days to drive a “green-light” vehicle to be sure the engine and transmission work and don’t need replacing.

Tip 2 - Do Your Homework/Know Its Worth

One of the best things you can do is to research the car before you buy it. Read reviews to get an insider’s opinion of the longevity and reliability of the vehicle. You can check Kelly Bluebook to get an accurate read on how much it is worth, so you know what to bid.

Tip 3 - Know the Car's History

Another helpful tip is to check out Carfax or some other online portal to do a VIN-check and see if the vehicle has been in any accidents or exposed to floods and water damage. Plus, a VIN check will also show previous owners, if there are any liens on the car and if the airbags were ever deployed.

You can also find out if the odometer has been tampered with and if the mileage shown is real.

Tip 4 - Keep Some Money Set Aside for Repairs

Regardless of the shape of the car you buy at auction, it may need some minor work or more extensive repairs to get it up to snuff. You might find a car with chipped paint or a few dings, but under the hood it’s perfect. If you want to fix those things, you better save anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand for repairs and maintenance.

On the other hand, it’s not rare for cars sold at auctions to stay parked for some time. When it happens, the brake rotors may become rusty and will need to be replaced. The same thing may occur with various suspension and steering components. In that case, you can always perform the repairs by yourself to save some money. If you aren’t a full-fledged auto mechanic already, simply make sure to get your hands on a quality repair manual first. You’ll find detailed replacement procedures as well as a ton of tips and tricks to help you along the way and make sure you get the most bang for your bucks.

Tip 5 - Don’t Get Emotional/Stick to Your Limits

An auction can really get the blood flowing. It’s exciting but don’t get caught up in the fray and spend too much on a used vehicle. Go at it unemotionally and don’t set your sights on one particular car. Be prepared to lose and let someone else buy it. Keep your eye on the prize; the goal is to get a deal not lose your shirt on a lemon car.

Watch other bidders and see how they are bidding and what their interest is. They may have additional information and know a good deal when they see one. Before you actually start bidding, try visiting an auction or two to get the hang of things. All this prep work now will pay off later.

Ask for maintenance records to see if the car has been well maintained. Understand that vehicles sold at auctions have no warranties or guarantees and you could drive off the lot with a lemon or a diamond in the rough. There is no telling, but that’s half the excitement of bidding.

Author's Bio: 

A passionate writer and a blogger leading her own blog at awebtoknow.com. She started freelancing as a way to connect to other people, to reach to their hearts and make a difference with her word. The blog was born out of a pure desire to connect… to have the freedom of writing what really matters, what actually makes a difference.