Car auction tricks and strategies exposed

(March 28, 2012) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Car auctions are not for the faint of heart, and average consumers would easily find themselves overwhelmed and dizzied by the process if they were to go car-shopping at one, advises While many in the public have illusions of finding a sweet deal at a car auction, they may want to think twice before jumping in.

"This is a world that average car buyers enter at their own peril," says Steve Lang, who has decades of experience as both a bidder and an auctioneer. "While there are bargains to be had, there?s plenty of potential for disaster, too. If you are not a mechanically inclined person with a keen eye, buying a car at a public auction is not for you."

But for buyers who are bold enough to join the fray, Lang has published a set of tips on to decode auction procedures, tricks and traps. In "Confessions of an Auto Auctioneer," Lang lays out ten points that every auction attendee should consider before bidding on a new or used car. Highlights of these tips include:

Know the sellers — Before you even step into an auction, call its business office and find out who has consigned cars for the event you want to attend. There are three levels of sellers at most public auto auctions: financial institutions and new car dealers can be good for buyers. But they should avoid independent car dealers at all costs.

Do Your Pre-Auction Research — A vehicle history report can tell you an awful lot about a car's history. Many public auto auctions will also list their inventory online along with vehicle identification numbers (VINs) so you can determine which vehicles will be worth your time.

Assess the Car by Assessing the Previous Owner — A car may have been built with exceptional quality, but a bad owner will turn even the nicest cars into rolling turkeys.

You Have a Court of Last Resort — No auto auction can force you to buy a vehicle that has been misrepresented. More than 98 percent of the sales at public auctions go off without a hitch, but if you wind up buying a vehicle that truly has been misrepresented on the auction block, you have the right to walk away, cancel your check and fax a follow-up notice to the auction the following morning.

Build a Relationship — You would be surprised how far a buyer can get at a public auction by exhibiting a genuine good nature and initiating a nice conversation with the auctioneer.

Lang's full list of tips is available in "Confessions of an Auctioneer" exclusively on as part of the popular "Confessions" series.