Public Auction – How to Spot a Good Deal

Buying construction equipment, or cars and trucks at public auction is a great way to save money, especially if you are purchasing expensive equipment or specialized items that will be used infrequently. In order to be a successful auction buyer, you have to know what to look for and how to inspect items, to spot the good deals. Download our Buyers’ Guide to get specifics, but let’s introduce some of the basics.

A ‘good deal’ is determined by (you) the buyer.  Something that seems like a good deal in your eyes may not seem attractive to another buyer.  Generally, there are two things that matter to every auction buyer, across the board:

  • Condition of the item
  • Amount paid for the item

In order for a buyer to know they are getting a good deal, they generally expect the equipment (or vehicle) to be road-worthy and that the price they pay at public auction is lower than would have to be paid elsewhere.  Start with these tips:

  • Sort the good from the bad – After your register to bid, inspect the items you plan to bid on. Sort through similar items and make tour picks for your first choice (the one you really want), second choice, third choice, etc.  Make your notes in the auction catalog the auctioneer gives you when you register.  Someone may outbid you on that first, best item.  Being prepared to know which of the remaining ones are worth bidding on and which ones to pass over is critical if you expect to get a deal. A competent mechanic can provide assistance in assessing the overall condition of the vehicles.   Most folks have a friend who might be able to come out and help inspect items.
  • Check the vehicle history – Write down the VIN, and when you are back at your home office or hotel, run a vin check with an online tool such as CARFAX.  Look for any available information to help you sort your choices of similar vehicles.
  • Inspect thoroughly – Nothing surpasses good common sense in spotting vehicles that are not in good shape. Look for excessive wear, particularly on moving components, seats, brake pedals, etc. Check for any leaks coming from the engine and the hydraulic system.

Know what the item is worth, to you – Buyers should decide what the items is worth, to them.   J.J. Kane associates can help help guide you.  Our auctioneers have decades of experience and have sold (combined) millions of items at public auction over many decades. We always estimate the prices we believe things will sell for before each auction, and we are glad to share our estimated values with you.  Just ask.  Then, you can decide what you think the vehicle is worth, to meet your needs.  Once you set a price you are willing to pay, don’t go over it. Stick to your plan and stop bidding at your maximum bid amount.  There are auctions every day of the week.

Our public auctions offer you the ability to get great value, as you buy direct from fleet-sellers with lots of surplus!  For helpful tips and information on making the most of your day at the auction, and seeking out great bargains, download our Buyer’s Guide and watch our Buyer Guide videos. Have questions? Contact us and we are glad to help.