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Buying at Auction – ‘Bag Yourself a Bargain’

Auctions can be confusing places when you are not sure what you are looking for. So, what should buyers be aware of before bidding at auction and trying to buy that tractor, digger or dozer?


‘Top 10 Tips’ for buying like a professional when bidding at auction from Erik Kortum, Euro Auctions’ Territory Manager for Germany will help you stay on the right track!

1. Research

Do your research before you visit the auction. Decide what it is you are looking for, making a list of some of the specific requirements to ensure that you purchase the right piece of machinery. Avoid making impulse purchases and paying over the odds for a machine you can’t afford!

2. Location, Price & Budget

Consider from where you want to buy, via a closed or public auction, where it will be possible to view multiples of the same equipment giving buyers choice. Regarding price, ask: Does it feel right? Is it too cheap? If it is, there could be a problem. Predetermine your budget, or at least be sure what the bank or finance house is prepared to advance for such a purchase.

3. Registering to bid

Prior to bidding, it is necessary to register online or in person at the physical auction. You must provide contact details, a photo ID, bank information, a cash deposit or a guarantee letter from a bank or other financial institution. A personal bidding number will then be issued to registered buyers along with a catalogue and list of items for sale.

4. Visual checks

The simplest check is visual. Ask: is it clean, Is it leaking fluid, does it start, is it smoking, do all the controls work, are rams tight, are slew rings (for diggers) tight or slack, are tyres and wheels in good order. If not how much would you have to spend to put things right if you bought it!

5. General Condition

Look for overspray and painted-over decals that may indicate haste in painting or intent to cover up a problem. A cleaned or washed machine may be the mark of past good maintenance, or intent to ‘wash away’ potential problems. Look for fresh oil seeps and ‘new looking’ paint that was, until recently, protected by years of built-up grease. Look for new gasket edges and shiny metal where parts join, indicating new parts. You’ll need to know what caused a part to fail and need replacing.

6. Damage Limitation

Check the engine for water stains: also check around the engine black for evidence of oil leaks. Check the dipstick, for heavy dirt deposits indicating the equipment could have been sitting for a long time. Thicker oils are sometimes used to reduce leakage. Check the owner’s manual for the proper oil grade. Lastly, check the floor and under the seats for signs of rust.

7. Check VIN plate

Check the VIN plate, its condition and its current position. Is it fixed with new rivets that don’t match? Does it look out of place? Is it stuck on by some other means? Has a serial number been ground off and that area repainted? Is the positioning of the VIN plate consistent with other vehicles in the same class?

8. Contractors Equipment

Contractors sometimes buy less-expensive agricultural equipment for their more demanding industrial uses. Watch out for points of excess wear plus oversized or heavy-duty tires not typical of the equipment. Look for hammer marks, kinks in hoses and part misalignment; indicating that the wrong parts were used or care during assembly was ignored.

9. Check the history

Check the history of the machine. Is the service history available? If not, who has owned the machine previously? A couple of phone calls should turn up some intelligence. If the machine appears to be an ‘ex-hire’ item, call the hire company and ask a few questions.

10. Run It and Drive It

Obvious, but not always done! Start the machine and observe any start-up problems, smoke puffs or unusual sounds. Load machines in all gears once warmed up to check for desired lugging power.

Now bid well – whilst auctioneers want to get the best price for all machines sold at auction, they also want returning buyers who are entirely happy with previous purchases. The best advice is to have a limit and stick to it. Once you have reached your highest bid, STOP.

Source: BlackChilli Creative Hub Ltd