Buying a truck at auction can be a bit of a nerve wracking experience, especially if it is your first time buying at auction. Most of us have visited eBay and experienced the thrill of bidding for an item but more often than not, if the purchase does not turn out to be as good as you had hoped. It is not such a big issue as these purchases do not tend to be all that expensive.
Now if you happen to be a business owner or if you are charged with purchasing fleet vehicles on behalf of your company, the costs are escalated and buying a poor quality vehicle without realising it can be a costly mistake; especially to a small business.
I advise giving any potential vehicles a basic inspection, or enlisting the help of someone knowledgeable you who knows what to look for, this will minimise your risk. Remember to take enough photographs of the vehicle too as this will give you a good idea of the vehicle’s overall condition. This way, when you have a selection of potential vehicles you have some good material to refer back to. Personally, I advise buyers to ask questions and dig deep with the suggestions below:
Know your vehicle’s intended purpose. You will be surprised to see just how many people purchase a vehicle without considering how they will use it in the future. These impulse purchases are obviously money poorly spent as the vehicle will be unfit for its intended purpose. Consider carefully the needs of your business and how versatile the vehicle is as its use may be dictated by the company’s future growth. Can you change between refrigerated and non-refrigerated trailers for example? You might need something to move large loads now, but what will those large loads be like in future? Will the same vehicle be able to move those loads?
Always run a registration check. The majority of auctions go smoothly and in most cases, great deals are had and many people are made happy. Unfortunately some unscrupulous individuals will try to exploit auctions to sell stolen, damaged or questionable vehicles. To ensure that you do not buy such a vehicle it is always wise to run a registration check on the vehicle that catches your eye. The DVLA offers a free registration checking service, although other ‘paid for’ searches can include other extra pieces of information that may be useful. To use the DVLA service all you need is the vehicle registration number and vehicle model. Enter these into the site and you will be able to view the date of manufacture, vehicle colour as well as tax brackets. So if the yellow van in front of you appears on the DVLA as a blue Micra, you know that this is an auction lot you ought to avoid.
Ask questions. Mileage is always a solid indicator of usage and potential wear and tear but sometimes asking about the vehicle’s history can turn up some surprising results. Did that truck spend most of its time taking heavy loads on long journeys up mountains? Or was it used to cart light loads over short distances? A vehicle’s past usage can be a good indicator of where you can expect to see future problems arise thus giving you the chance to set aside funds for a particular maintenance job well in advance. Not only that, but an honest, personal review of an ex commercial fleet vehicle can help you make a more informed decision; sure both trucks can carry two tonnes, but which one is the most comfortable? Ask all the same questions you would if you were buying the vehicle for your own use and if you can ask the opinion of someone who would realistically be using the vehicle. Just because you like it, it does not mean to say it is the best vehicle for the job.
Do your research. Buying at auction can be an incredibly cost effective way to increase your company fleet or gain your first commercial vehicle. The best way to get the lowest price however, is to do your research. View other auction listings and get a fair idea of what your preferred vehicle type and model go for. This way you can spot the potential bargains and buy when the average price falls.
If you are already a purveyor of these habits, excellent. If not, I hope you will find these useful. The more you immerse yourself in auctions both on and off line, the quicker you will develop that ‘gut feel’ for a real bargain when you see one. Remember, ask questions and keep an open mind. Happy bargain hunting!