Buying at Auction


A Guide to Buying at Three Counties Auction

It’s easy, Buying a vehicle at Three Counties Auction is simple. It can also be fun, exciting and enjoyable.

If it’s your first time, an auction can also seem incredibly fast-paced and a little bit daunting. So to help, we’ve put together this useful step-by-step Guide to Buying at the Auction. It tells you all you need to know about the entire auction process, from start to finish.

Step one – View the cars

You can see a list of all the vehicles available, online. This includes details such as the registration, make, model, mileage, plus any service history and MOT.

Wherever possible, we’ll list vehicles with the correct mileage. If we’re unable to do this, you’ll see the mileage declared as ‘Incorrect’. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that the mileage is wrong. It just means the vehicle hasn’t been provided with a full service history, so we’re unable to validate the mileage.

For added reassurance, we run data checks to make sure the vehicle isn’t an insurance total loss. We also give every vehicle a full MOT history check - any discrepancies are declared at the sale.

To ‘view’ each vehicle in person, you can visit our Auction Centre between 9:30am and 3.00pm On the Day of the sale. You can walk around, inspect the car and prepare a list of vehicles you’re interested in.

Step two – Bid at the auction

Once you’ve viewed the vehicles and drawn up your short list, it’s time to take part in the auction.

When you turn up to the Auction all you do is fill out a simple form with your name and address and you will then be given a bidders Number.

To help you follow the sale, each vehicle is given a Lot Number and the vehicles will be auctioned in number order. Remember, vehicles are sold under the common law maxim, Caveat Emptor. This means ‘buyer beware’. Motor auctions aren’t covered by the Sales of Goods Act, and you buy the vehicle with all its faults – whether these are known or not.

However, to help you limit this risk, we always drive each vehicle through the hall, placing them in first and reverse gear. We’ll also demonstrate that convertible roofs and sunroofs are working. Plus, if a warning light is showing on the dashboard, our driver will indicate this by holding a red card out of the window. This way, you can take a look at which warning light is displayed, then bid accordingly.

Top Tip 1.

Set yourself a budget for the vehicles you want and keep this in mind whilst bidding. Auctions are very fast-paced events and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement. You might be happy to bid more than your original limit, but remembering your budget often helps prevent getting too carried away.


Our auctioneers aren’t just there to sell vehicles. They’re also there to help you buy them, so make sure you listen very carefully when they read out all the information about each vehicle.

Then, when you’re ready to bid, make yourself known to the auctioneer by raising your hand.

Top Tip 2.

Our auction hall is a busy environment, with lots of activity, so nods and subtle winks don’t work. Make your bid clear and bold.

As you bid and compete with other potential buyers, the increments will increase at the auctioneer’s discretion until the final ‘Hammer’ price.

Hammer price

The ‘Hammer’ price is the final, highest bid the vehicle receives. Usually, this means that the vehicle is sold and if you’re the highest bidder, you’ve won the car.

Provisional sale

Occasionally, a car is sold to a ‘provisional’ bid. Many cars are given a reserve price by the seller. This is the minimum price they’d like the vehicle to achieve at the auction. If your final bid doesn’t reach this price.

We will contact the seller on your behalf, tell them how much you have bid and try to negotiate the sale. We can usually get a decision in 24 hours. 

Step three – Paying for your vehicle

Remember, there are no hidden charges at Three Counties Auction. So when you’re calculating the final price of the vehicle you’ve bought, it’s extremely straightforward; you pay the ‘Hammer’ price and a buyer’s fee and That’s it.

This fee includes a clear title insurance, covering your purchase price if the vehicle turns out to be stolen or on finance.

Top Tip 3.

Make sure you build the buyer’s fee into any limit you set yourself before bidding on a vehicle. This way, you’ll be entirely clear on how much you want to pay.

Payment in full should be made on the day you successfully bid for your vehicle. Once this payment has been made, you can take the vehicle away. If you’re not taking the vehicle away on the evening of the auction, you can make arrangements to collect it at a later date.

Payments can be made using cash or debit card. Credit card payments have an extra fee of 4% added to the final bill.


Unlike many vehicle auction companies, we hand over whatever vehicle documentation we have, at no extra cost. We’ll need to see some written ID containing your name and address first (such as a utility bill, bank statement, driving license, etc.) before we can release the documentation – this is a DVLA requirement and we’re unable to make any exceptions.

Top Tip 4.

To make buying a vehicle as smooth as possible, bring your ID with you on the day of the auction. This way, once you’ve paid in full, you can drive away hassle-free.


We prefer that vehicles are taken away on the day of purchase. However, where this isn’t possible, we allow free storage for up to seven days.

Vehicles are left in our compound at the owner’s risk. After seven days, storage is charged at a rate of £10 per day and night. Please note that any storage fees will need to be settled in full before the vehicle can be released.


Naturally, we hope that you are completely satisfied with every car you buy at our auction. All vehicles are bought under the ‘buyer beware’ principle, so please make sure you are happy with the vehicle before you place a bid.