How to increase your chances of purchasing a car at auctions

Where Can I Find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.

The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:

Look for the VIN in these other locations:

  • Insurance card/Insurance policy
  • Vehicle title and registration certificate


4 Oct 16

Though auctions may be somewhat unpredictable, they aren't random like winning the lottery. Auctions depend heavily on various factors, such as the people that turn up, how many of them are potential buyers and what the range of budgets are. You may find yourself feeling a little out of your depth.

Here, we've compiled a few tips to help increase your chances of purchasing a car at an auction.

Be prepared

This includes doing your homework. There are likely to be many experienced auction-attendees present with a whole wealth of experience. To be able to contend as a bidder, you need to know your stuff too.

Have all the necessary paperwork, and conduct some research before the auction starts. This could help you to determine if any cars up for auction are worth your time. If these vehicles are sold as registered, a CarHistory report can provide relevant information before you make a decision to bid.

Are you fully informed before the auction?Are you fully informed before the auction?

Be on time

Nothing says preparation other than arriving ahead of the crowd and securing yourself a prime spot to see the screen and auctioneer, and have all your paperwork ready. It'll allow you to scope out the cars, if held in a showroom, before the sale starts.

Look the part

Dress to impress - wear something smart but not too formal. This helps both the auctioneer and other bidders identify you, and acknowledge you as a serious contender.

Stay calm and confident

Leading on from being prepared, you'll feel more confident knowing your set limit. Announce your bids with a clear voice, stating the entire figure rather than shortening the digits. This adds weight to your bid, and other bidders are likely to be put off when they hear the whole price stated clearly.

By keeping your cool at an auction, you are also less tempted to bid over your budget. There will always be other auctions, and it usually takes a few different auctions to find your dream car for a good price.

If you find that auctions aren't for you and instead want to look elsewhere, make sure you do your research before you buy.

View a sample report >