Buying from the Auction? Just remember your ABC and D…

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Assume the vehicle you are considering bidding on is rubbish.

Author: Jason Williams
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This article is 4 months old.

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It was six months ago that we warned about the limited redress available to car dealers when they buy from the auctions. 

However, we need to repeat that advice and hope the following ABCD checklist will further set out the legal position for car dealers when purchasing via an auction, as well as the precautions you should take as a consequence.

A is for “Assume”

Assume the vehicle you are considering bidding on is rubbish.  Assume it to be full of defects that will cost a lot to put right.  Assume it is there because no-one else wants it.

In other words, set your expectations very low and you won’t be disappointed.

And remember, cars sold at auction may well have come from the likes of webuyanycar.com and assume that sellers use such a service because no other commercial outlets would be prepared to sell the cars on offer.

B is for “Buyer Beware”

As a buyer “in the trade” you won’t have redress against the seller – which is not the actual auction house – just because the car doesn’t work as you think it should.  There is no obligation for you to be told of defects and no requirement for the car to meet any satisfactory quality or fitness for purpose.  You are not a consumer and, subsequently, don’t have the same extensive rights that the consumer to whom you sell the car to will have.  Factor this in when deciding your buying budget.

C is for “Check”

Check the vehicle’s MOT history AND whether it has any outstanding safety recalls before you bid for it.  It takes two minutes to check the online government website to view a MOT history.  Check for mileage anomalies throughout its history and look for consistency.

Crucially, the online MOT check will tell you if that car has any outstanding safety recalls.  This is VERY important.

Throughout lockdown, Trading Standards officers are trawling motor traders’ websites for Click & Collect cars offered for sale.  If they spot a registration number, they will do an online check and seek to prosecute you for advertising a car with an outstanding recall, which you haven’t disclosed in your advert.  We have seen enough examples of this happening, so do your checking as soon as you can and certainly before you advertise.

D is for “Description”

Whilst you probably cannot do anything about the quality of cars bought via an auction, you might have hope if the vehicle has been misdescribed.  So, if you read the advertisement stating the car has had three previous keepers but actually had 23, you can rescind the contract with the seller if you read this before – and then discovered the misdescription after – you entered into a contract. 

But be careful of statements of opinion or if described as “assured” or similar. For “assured” may be explained in terms and conditions as nothing more than the vehicle can physically move 15 meters in first gear, the same distance in reverse, stop and do nothing else!

In conclusion, car dealers can get some good bargains in auctions – but there are a lot of lemons on offer too.  Use our ABCD and don’t end up with a winning bid that leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Jason Williams

Legal Advisor

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