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Car Auctions: How to Help Yourself making bargains at Car Auctions

Car Auctions can be quite scary places for the uninitiated. I mean, there you are, sitting there quietly watching what is going on around you and the auctioneer keeps raising and raising the price. But where are the bids coming from?

You look, and look very carefully but often don’t see anything. It could be just a slight lifting of an eyebrow, the ‘apparent’ fanning motion of a programme ‘cooling’ somebody off, or it could be a hand shot up into the air so fast you mistake it for someone trying to swat a mosquito.

And the price keeps climbing. When and how do you get your bid in at a car auction?

Observation is one of your keenest assets at a lively car auction. You need to observe the auctioneer and his helpers, otherwise known as ‘spotters’. The job of these ‘spotters’ at an auction is to make sure no bids are missed from their patch.

It will pay off in your favour if you actually watch one of these spotters and find the person in their patch who is bidding and watch that person to see how s/he is doing it. Is s/he a hand raiser or does s/he just lift a finger? Reading this persons body signs pays off handsomely at a car auction. Their body language will usually give vent to their feelings. When you recognize they are close to their limit, then you will know when to come in as a bidder.

You need to be mindful too that these ‘spotters’ are legit. There are still some unscrupulous auctioneers who plant stooges at a car auction with no other reason than to make false bids. It’s highly illegal, but it does happen from time to time. A good idea is to watch where they are looking to see who is actually doing the bidding. If you can’t or don’t see anything it is still very hard to prove that there is a scam taking place.

At reputable car auction outlets as can be found from  the organizers will issue you with a bidding number. This varies in size and colour but often is a very clearly numbered and easily recognised card that is instantly recognised and respected by the auctioneer and/or his spotters. 

How do you get a bidding number? You must get to a car auction early enough to register your interest as a buyer. Once you register your details as a potential purchaser you will receive a number. A good way I have found in my experience at auctions is to always bid by raising this number high into the air so it is clearly seen by both the auctioneer and the spotter.  But once your bid has been called, don’t forget to take it down immediately or else you could find yourself bidding against yourself!

And that is embarrassing and costly.

I have been to an auction in the past when I didn’t know what I was doing. It was right at the beginning of my ‘collecting’ phase of life and I wanted this item from a deceased estate auction. I didn’t know about ‘stooges’ then and this person kept the price going up and up until I stopped. Mind you, luckily for me, we were competing for a .50cent item that he got caught with because I stopped first. At the end of the auction I was approached by the auctioneer to see if I would be prepared to pay the last price I bid.

When I queried as to why the winner didn’t want it, the auctioneer then had to explain to me that it was one of his own people. Luckily for him, back in those days I didn’t know it was illegal to place stooges in the crowd otherwise I would have had his hide on the block. Those days have 99.9999% passed now thanks to tighter regulations governing the industry. Car Auctions are only different from other auctions because they sell vehicles only.

And we all know, don’t we, that they aren’t normally .50cent items. But then some cars at auctions have gone under the hammer for as little as a $1.00, so who knows? It could be your lucky day.  

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