The best way to choose a good used car at auction!

We have a car for every purse and purpose.

It’s safe to say that most of us are not mechanics and can’t claim to know much about cars! We might know a few things and be able to spot a few obvious features you like and some you want to avoid…

But if you opened the hood and looked at the engine, you might not necessarily know what’s going on under there.

As we work as an auction house, selling of all kinds of items, it is hard to for us to be an expert in everything too!

Due to safety, insurance and registration reasons, unfortunately we cannot allow our customers to test drive our cars.

So, we have put together a guide on the best way to go about buying a pre-loved car at Lloyds Auctions!

Research the make, model, worth and potential repair costs

We put everything we know in the lot description of each used car, whether it has been told to us by the vendor or noted by ourselves!

If we notice anything visible or audible that we find shouldn’t be in a standard, well-running car, we put it in the lot description. So, read it very carefully!

When it comes to write-offs, make sure you do some research as there are three different kinds of write-offs here according to the PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register) in Australia.

A statutory write-off is a car that is deemed to unsafe to drive on the road ever again and cannot be re-registered anywhere in Australia.

Repairable write-offs have been in an accident or received a lot of damage, from something like hail, but haven’t yet been inspected by an engineer.

A repaired write-off has been fixed and inspected by an engineer and deemed safe to be driven on the road again.

We make it very clear in the lot description when we are auctioning a repaired or repairable write-off.

But don’t be put off! A repaired write-off has to go through a rigorous process to ensure it is road worthy before it is able to be re-registered. Refer to your specific state’s Transport Office for registration regarding written off vehicles, as the rules can vary!

A repairable write-off going through our auctions may have been repaired but is yet to go through an engineer for a roadworthy approval. But as always, it is best to inspect and research how much repairs will cost so you don’t get a surprise after auction!

Search cars through the PPSR as it will tell you why they have been written-off and what kind of repairs you may expect so you can factor this into your bid price.

Don’t forget to research how much similar cars are generally going for on the market so you know how high to bid. Factor in the make, model, year and odometer into your research to start with.

Inspect with a mechanic

Inspecting a car before you put in your bid is an absolute MUST! Looking at photos just won’t do our cars justice!

When you come to inspect a car, you will be able to sit in the car, turn the engine on and have a listen and take a close look the condition of the paintwork (or whatever else matters to you)!

If you’re not confident about detecting any mechanical issues, bring a mechanic with you to give you a pre-purchase inspection report.

This is our biggest recommendation, especially as these days a lot of newer cars can be checked with a computer by a specialised mechanic.

While the extra assurance of getting a mechanic to have a look is worth every penny, if you are unable to have one accompany you to the inspection, there are some key things to look out for.

Look at how well presented the car is; if it is clean on the inside and out, and if the body has any scratches or dents.

Listen carefully when you turn it on, to see if you can hear anything unusual and keep an eye out for smoke coming from places it shouldn’t! This helps give an indication of the kind of condition a vehicle is in.

Ask questions!

We are only able to drive our cars around in first gear in our carpark, so it can be difficult for us to give specific reviews on the way a car drives.

However, we can tell you the history of the car. We can let you know where it came from and why it is being sold in one of our auctions!

While we can’t reveal details due to privacy reasons, you can ask whether the vehicle has come from a finance company, bankrupt estate, deceased estate, just a private entry, or a car dealer entry.

The history and the circumstances under which the car arrived can go a long way to painting the picture of what kind of life the car may have had and how it may have been treated.

While cars coming from bankrupt or deceased estates, finance repossessions or liquidated assets come from an unfortunate background where someone is having to give up their car because of distress, it can be good news for a bidder.

It is most likely that these cars are entered into our auctions to make money quickly as the financier or trustee needs a financial outcome and auctions are the quickest way to get money back in the bank.

Because they don’t want their vehicle back at all, it is generally a good opportunity for a bidder to score a car below market price. Don’t forget all our bids start at $1!

Liquidated assets tend to come from ex-company fleets which are usually serviced regularly and well looked after.

Another great question to ask us is if we have the service history or owner’s manual for the car. We generally put if this information is available in the lot description of the car.

Ask to have a look at the service history so you can see how well the car has been looked after and if it is likely that you may have to do some maintenance if you purchase it.

Too tyred and exhausted to scroll through our website looking for your dream car? Have all our used car auctions emailed straight to your inbox so you never miss your chance!

Matt Kalinski

Head Of Valuations

Qualifications & Affiliations

American Society of Appraisers Candidate Member

Certified Practicing Valuer AVAA


Matt has been in the valuations space for many years and has extensive experience in the space across an abundance of various industries. He now leads the valuations teams for Lloyds Auctions with a passion for encouraging his team to set and achieve high goals and produce great results for the company whilst growing the team’s skills starting with a great culture and team mindset.