Tips for attending car auctions in Cape Town

car auctions - Cape Towncar auctions - Cape Town
car auctions - Cape Towncar auctions - Cape Town


Tips for attending car auctions in Cape Town

Car auctions are one way to buy a car at a great price. You need to know the ins and outs of auctions, though, if you want to make sure you’re walking away with something decent and not setting yourself up for a financial nightmare once you take the vehicle home.

Luckily, not all auction cars are nightmare buys and there are auctions happening all over Cape Town for you to attend and find that perfect car. You’re going to need to know a few things if this is your first time in the car auctioning world.


Create an auction calendar

Do yourself a favour and sign up for newsletters and sites where you can see where all the car auctions in Cape Town are, when they’re happening and what’s in the catalogues. You’ll find that some auction institutions have set auction days, locations and catalogue information release times and it will be in your best interest to take note of all this information.

Then, take what you find and create an auction calendar with all available details. It will be easier to plan where you’re going to be and when. Wesbank, for example, updates their car auction catalogues at 12:00 the day before every auction. This gives you just enough time to browse, research and find out when the car you want will be going on auction. It’s important to be prepared at a car auction so that you don’t waste your time or money.


Attend a few before you bid

You need to get comfortable with the proceedings of a car auction. Like many things in Cape Town, it happens fast and, before you know it, the deed is done. You can’t go in for the first time and try your hand at bidding. You’ll either need to take someone who knows the ropes or attend a few as a spectator before registering as a bidder. Watch as people go through the motions of viewing the auction cars and bidding. Talk to other attendees and gather some insight into the auctioning world.

Make sure you’ve done your research about any registration fees, payment format requirements for bids you win, any deposit fees and the terms and rules of auctioning for that specific event.  


Set a budget

The first rule of auctioning is that you don’t attend without a set budget in mind. It’s easy to want to bid until you get the car you want, but you need to understand that there will be other cars, opportunities and auction events where you could possibly find a better car within your price range.

You, literally, cannot afford to get competitive and enter into a bidding war. It might take everything in you to stand down, but if you continue to raise the bid, you’ll end up at a figure you never intended on paying (because you don’t have that money to pay). And once the hammer has come down on an auction car, the deal is closed and there’s no backing out of it. The adrenaline that comes with raising a paddle of seemingly infinite funds is exciting until it’s over and you’re looking at a fair amount of debt for the next few years.

Know what your financial limits are and rather tend more car auctions than trying to force a winning bid on a car you aren’t even sure about. In fact, don’t bid at all if you aren’t sure or 100% invested in potentially owning that car. There’s also a chance you will need to have your car financing approved before you can bid, which should also help you stick to your budget.


Stay away from the lemons

With your budget and paddle at the ready, it’s time to start bidding on cars. But you need to make sure you’re spending your time, money and auction skills on a decent car and not a “lemon”.

The first test a car needs to pass is the inspection. Visible signs of wear and tear will be easy to see but the difficulty comes in when auctioneers don’t allow test drives. You will be allowed to start the car and listen to the engine, but that’s generally the extent of it. If you have an ear for those sorts of things, you should be able to deduce whether the car is in working condition or not. And if you don’t, you can consider bringing a mechanic friend along with you to help you out. You don’t need the car you buy to save you on initial costs but end up more expensive in repair costs.

Then you need to check the VIN number and get a complete vehicle history. You want to know the car is reliable and will serve you well. There’s plenty of risk in buying from a car auction, but it’s probably the most affordable way to buy a car. 

car auctions - Cape Town