Buying a used car at auction

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What is involved with buying at an auction?

Buying at an auction is often cheaper than buying privately or from a licensed motor car trader, but it carries more risks and is best suited to people who know about cars.

Generally, the auction house will not let you take the car for a test drive - so you should inspect it thoroughly.

The auction house is responsible for ensuring that no money is owing on the car.

Warranties and cooling-off period

If you buy a used car at an auction, you will not have the same statutory warranty, cooling-off period or Certificate of Roadworthiness you would receive when buying from a licensed motor car trader.

Buying from an auction house – ‘off the floor’

If you do not buy the car during an auction but ‘off the floor’, you are entitled to the usual benefits offered by licensed motor car traders.

Certificate of Roadworthiness

A car sold at auction may be sold without a Certificate of Roadworthiness.

If the vehicle is registered, it is your responsibility to obtain a Certificate of Roadworthiness. You must provide VicRoads with the certificate within 14 days of buying the car, in order to complete the transfer of registration.

If the car is not registered, it is your responsibility to:

VicRoads can provide more information about what to do if your car is unregistered.

Be aware of additional costs

You may need to factor in the cost of obtaining a Certificate of Roadworthiness and the lack of a warranty when buying a car at auction.

Bidding rules

Dummy bidding (a false bid made up by the auctioneer, or a bid accepted by the auctioneer from a non-genuine bidder from the crowd) is banned.

An owner or their representative cannot bid, but the auctioneer is permitted to make a bid on the vendor’s behalf, as long as the auctioneer makes it clear before bidding starts that he or she may do this. The auctioneer must also declare a vendor bid before it is made.

Be prepared to make a down-payment

Expect to make a down-payment of about 10 per cent, or $500, at the end of the auction. You usually make this payment by cash or bank cheque.