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Selling a car at an auction: A complete guide

December 20, 2021 by

If you’re looking to sell your car at auction, you might have a few questions on your mind.

How do you auction your car, how much can you get and is it guaranteed to sell? These questions and more are answered in this complete guide to auctioning your car.

Pros and cons of selling a car at auction

Pros

  • Can be a quick way of selling your car
  • The legwork is often done by auction houses
  • Minimises risk of time wasters buying your car

Cons

  • Your car isn’t guaranteed to sell
  • A limited number of potential buyers will be present
  • You’ll likely pay extra fees

How do car auctions work?

Car auctions are a common way to sell used cars. Typically, these are hosted to sell cars directly to dealers — although auctions for private buyers happen too.

1. Find an auction house

Your first step is to find an auction house you’re happy to sell with. A quick search online should help you find one in your area.

2. Take the car in for a valuation

Arrange with the auction house to have your car inspected and valued. This is no commitment — an auctioneer can give you an estimated price and you’re able to sell with them if you’re happy with the valuation.

3. Have a reserve price in mind

Once you’ve had your car valued, establish a minimum price you’d take for the car. If bidding doesn’t reach this, your car won’t be sold and any bids are void. You may still have to pay fees though.

4. Let the auction house sort the rest

The auction house usually does the rest of the work — taking photographs, producing a lot description and arranging the time it’ll be auctioned.

From there, you’re at the mercy of the bidding wars. Buyers present can outbid each other for a car until someone comes out on top as the final highest bidder and win the auction.

You’ll typically pay an upfront fee for your car to be listed at auction. If it sells, the auction house will likely take a cut of the sale too — often 10% or more.

Though you may be wincing at the thought of losing that money, remember the auction house will have it in its best interests to maximise the value of your car.

After all, the more it sells for, the more money the auctioneer gets. You might walk away with more money than you expected as a result if you sell your car at auction.

What price do cars sell for at auction?

Prices for cars at auction can vary wildly. This will depend not only on the car itself but also on whatever the buyers present are willing to pay.
You could be unlucky one day and have no interest in the car, only for someone to pay over the odds the next.

This can especially be the case if your car is selling in the same auction as a near-identical car, therefore splitting interest.

You may find rare, sought-after cars sell better at auction compared to a private sale. In contrast, common cars may be an easier sell elsewhere.

Again, keep in mind an auction house will also usually take a commission for selling your car. This is typically at least 10% of the sale price, but sometimes more.

Where can I find car auctions near me?

The easiest way to find a car auction near you is to have a quick search on directories such as Yell. Here you’ll find a list of auction houses within your area as well as contact information.

Auction houses tend to list upcoming events on their websites, so it’s worth having a look. If you’re unsure, a quick phone call should do the trick.

The frequency of car auctions will vary depending on the auction house.

Are car auctions worth it?

Whether or not car auctions are worth it will come down to what you’re expecting from a sale.

When car auctions may be right for you:

  • You want a quick sale
  • You’re struggling to sell your car privately
  • You don’t want the hassle of producing a listing
  • You have a rare, sought-after car that’s hard to value

When car auctions may be wrong for you:

  • You have a solid asking price set in your mind
  • You don’t want to pay any fees for selling your car
  • Your car is extremely common

Sell your car with carwow

If you want to take the hassle out of selling your car, but want to agree to a price rather than taking the risk of an auction, why not sell through carwow?

All you need to do is take a few pictures, provide some info on the car and wait for the offers to roll in. Once you’re offered a price by one of carwow’s trusted dealers that you’re happy with, simply accept and the buyer will arrange the rest.