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How to master online car auctions

How to master online car auctions

24 06 15

Online car auctions are a different world to car auctions where you show up in person. Turners is the oldest car auction company in New Zealand, so their experts know the market well. To help you get the most out of online auctions, they’ve put together some tips for potential buyers.

Buying a new car is a big decision. You may have an idea of your budget and perhaps the kind of car you want, but you don’t need to worry about finance on or locking yourself into a particular deal before you have been online to have a look around.

Here are some step by step pointers to help you on your way to your next car purchase.

Preparation is key

Buying a car (or a van, or a truck) is easier than ever thanks to the internet. With an online auction site, you can check out as many cars as you like, whenever you like without leaving the house.

There are two ways to find the right car for you online. You can either search for an auction, or search for a vehicle. If you want a certain type of car, enter the details of that car into the ‘search’ function, or scroll through the different categories organised for you (e.g. ‘hatchback’ or ‘sedan’). You can also search by make and model if you know what you like, and this can help narrow down the huge range of choices available to a few favourites.

Once you’ve found a vehicle you like, use the powers of the internet to find out more about it.

Research the model and see what similar vehicles are selling for. Have an idea of the price you want to pay and what is reasonable or average, before you start to bid.

Register on the website

To be able to bid in an online car auction, you have to be registered with an account. You also have to have a credit or debit card authorised on the account before you can start bidding. Once you’ve punched in your credit card details, Turners will usually debit $1 from your account to authorise the card before crediting it back to you once authorisation is complete.


Sometimes when your dream car shows up, it’s a little bigger, flasher or decked out with safety equipment than your budget allows. It could be your first car, or a second car to shuttle the kids around – whatever it is, if you don’t have the money upfront see if you can take advantage of finance plans that may be available.

When looking for finance plans, be sure to choose a reputable company. They should give you a clear idea of the terms of the agreement and factors like the total amount of interest due for the life of the loan, so you have all the information you need to make a sensible decision. Be aware that some less reputable businesses bury information about interest and penalty payments in the fine print.

Type of auction

There are two types of auctions on the Turners website. Live auctions are run in real time with an auctioneer in front of customers, and you can bid on vehicles via your online account. The other type is online auctions, where all customers for these auctions are online only.

Whether the auction you want to attend is going to be held ‘live’ (labelled in green) or online (labelled in blue), you can log in to view or take part in either from the comfort of your computer. Read up about the slightly different ways each auction operates when you log in.

Prepare for your bid

Auctions are normally open for a week – sometimes more, sometimes less. When you click on the car you’re interested in, there will be a closing date for the end of the auction so you can keep track. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re available around the time the auction ends – it could get a little competitive in the closing stages.

Make sure you have a top price in mind that you’re willing to go to, and stick to it.
If you sense that you’re in competition with another bidder, you can use the autobid function to stay ahead of the bidding. This handy tool also allows you to input your maximum bid so you’ll never go over budget. Autobid will place bids at the next minimum amount up to your maximum, every time you are outbid. This is especially useful if you aren’t around to monitor the auction personally, or you need to duck away for a while and don’t want to lose out just because you need to go and buy milk.
If you have any questions about the car beforehand, use the question and answer section at the bottom of each listing to get the information you need.

You can test drive cars before buying. We encourage you to test drive and carry out a thorough inspection before buying a car. To be able to test drive, you will need to bring your driver's licence with you. You need to have a restricted or full licence (or the overseas equivalent) to go for a test drive. At some branches there’s a test driving area on site. At other branches, a staff member will accompany you on a test drive on the road.

Make your bid from anywhere in the world

No matter where you are in the world or what you are doing, you can bid on a Turners auction so long as you can access the website. Making your first bid can be quite a thrill, especially since you’ll be buying one of the most valuable assets most of us own – a vehicle.

That’s why preparation is important. If you know a little about the make and model and the price range to expect, you can judge the competition and bidding in a more informed way.

The team

Whether you bid online or want to talk to a person the team at Turners are here to help you every step of the way. Find out about buying and selling cars at Turners online, find more tools and tips and great deals on finance. Whether you're looking for a truck, machinery or want to find an extra special deal on a damaged vehicle to restore, Turners has it all. Talk to the team at Turners today, or sign up for great features online.

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