The highest bidder on the day takes ownership of the car immediately on payment to the auction company. You will typically pay commission on top of the hammer price.

British Car Auctions (BCA), Manheim, and SMA are the biggest car auction companies in the UK.

Auction companies usually require you to pay and take the car away on the day of sale or the following day. Otherwise, you will incur additional costs, so you will need to have a ready source of funds.

Top tips

Check if the paperwork, e.g. V5C registration document and service history, are present with the car. If there is no V5C you can apply to the DVLA with proof of purchase once you have bought the car.

Check the paperwork before the sale - see our car buying paperwork guide.

Check the vehicle value against Parkers, CAP, Glass's guide. Decide how much you are willing to pay before the sale. Make sure you factor in the auction house commission charges. It is very easy once in the auction to end up bidding more than you intended


This process can be the cheapest when it comes to buying a vehicle, however prices can vary significantly depending on the day, so nothing is guaranteed.


It can be high risk. Should the car develop a fault following the sale you have little comeback against the auction the auction house or seller. You also have less chance of thoroughly checking the vehicle before the sale.

If you are using finance to buy the car, your options are usually limited to unsecured loans.

You don't usually get the opportunity to test drive, but some auction houses will issue a mechanical report on the car.

Auctions are typically during the working week so you may need to take time off work.



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