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Wheeler Dealer Mike Brewer on how to buy a car at auction

  • Wheeler Dealer star gives his top tips on buying from auction
  • Exclusive video interview with Brewer can be seen above
  • Brewer will be hosting this year’s Used Car Awards on November 29

Time 3 weeks ago

A car auction can be a daunting place for those who don’t know what they’re doing.

With bids coming in from all directions it’s easy to get carried away in the hustle and bustle of it all without giving enough thought to what you’re spending money on.

One man who’s been there and seen it all is Wheeler Dealer, and host of the Used Car Awards, Mike Brewer.


In the special video (above) he gives his five top tips to follow when attending an auction.

Here’s what he had to say:

Never turn up at an auction without doing your homework first

‘Know exactly what you want to do. Fill your library before you fill your garage. Make sure you are armed with information.

‘If you’ve never been to an auction before and you don’t really know what you’re doing then take somebody with you who does.’

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Check if the car you’re buying has a warranty  

‘Be careful what you’re looking at when you’re at the auction. If a car is sold with no warranty that means when the hammer goes down it’s yours.

‘If you drive off the forecourt and the engine falls out they’ll hand you a shovel and tell you to move it off their forecourt.

‘Make sure you buy a car that’s got some kind of warranty.

‘A warranty doesn’t mean you can take it back to the car dealership. At an auction it means generally you get an hour after you’ve paid for the car to test it, to make sure you’re happy with it and then you can return it to the auction if you’re not and you’ll get a refund.’

Don’t get carried away

‘Auction houses are really exciting places. You can stand there and get carried away with the emotion of being in an auction room and outbid yourself – I’ve seen that many, many times.

‘Set your ceiling price and stick to it.

‘Remember that even once you’ve set your ceiling price and stuck to it, that when the hammer goes down that’s not the end of it.

‘You have to pay a premium on top of that for the privilege of buying the car.’

Do basic checks on the car you’re interested in

‘First and foremost I’ll be standing beside the car when it fires up just to check nothing nasty is coming out of the exhaust pipe.


‘Secondly, I’ll be talking to that person (behind the wheel).

‘I’ll be saying ‘what does the clutch feel like?’, ‘What do the brakes feel like?’, ‘Does the steering feel good?’ and ‘can you give it a little rev for me?’

‘You can’t test drive the car immediately but you’ve got someone sitting in the car who is doing a test drive for you so I ask all those questions before it goes onto the plot.

‘After that I take a step back, look at the car and also see what other people are noticing with the car.’

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Make sure nothing is missing

‘Don’t forget cars have things that come out of them – spare wheels, tools, cigarette lighters.

‘Make sure you open the boot, lift up the carpet and make sure it’s got a spare wheel, tools and cigarette lighter.

‘All these things easily disappear at auction houses and if you buy one with no spare wheel then you might be spending £1,000 buying a replacement spare wheel – so check it’s there.’

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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