[NSW] Car Auction Advice: Non Runner?

Recently bought a car from an auction, it's in great condition, full service history and books, etc.

Due to Covid couldn't check out the car in person but it's shown in pictures/videos to be in running, operational condition. Also the auction manager has confirmed that it starts and drives just fine.

Bid on it, paid, waited a few days for them to get the car out to me, then got a call from the auction manager saying that he's unable to start the car, but it was fine a week ago. I had it towed to my mechanics and they're checking it out now.

Shouldn't be a big issue (maybe something like the ECU, not the engine - fingers crossed), and honestly I can afford to just fix it up - I will probably still come out ahead. If it is something major though then…

This just leaves a real bad taste in my mouth, is there any recourse I can take? I understand auctions are "as is" but if it's not as described (and it's something major like being a running car vs. a non-runner), is it still just on me?

Any experience or advice is welcome. Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • +3

    it's in great condition

    saying that he's unable to start the car

    Lol

    Read the terms and conditions of your contract by any chance?

    Or do we just have to assume them?

    • They're standard auction terms ie. cars are sold as is, where is; no statutory warranty, no cooling off period

      It's in great condition is my words, not described in the auction. And I do mean that - low km considering the age, complete service history with nothing missed, one owner (as all the services were done at the same place), I've also taken a look at the car since it has arrived: meticulously clean interior and exterior has little to no scratches/dents whatsoever. Obviously what is under the engine bay is anyone's guess, but it was starting and running fine but it is not at the time of them delivering to me.

  • got a call from the auction manager saying that he's unable to start the car, but it was fine a week ago

    Ok then what did they say? Did they give you any options?

    is there any recourse I can take?

    Depends on the above, if they gave you an option to cancel but you didn't, then no not really and recourse.

    You could try forwarding the repair bill to them for payment to bring it back to as listed status, but normally auctions are too bad, so sad. All care but no responsibility etc.

    • The car was fully paid for at the time the hammer dropped. After the auction manager called me he just says they'll bring it to a mechanic of my choosing - so I arranged for it to be brought to my usual trusted place to be checked out. Obviously he said "yeah let us know" - I'm just wondering if it's worth my trouble to go fight them at all.

      And yeah I understand auctions are really just a crapshoot - but then what's stopping them from just passing off every non-runner car as operational until someone pays for it?

      • he said "yeah let us know" - I'm just wondering if it's worth my trouble to go fight them at all.

        Once you find out the issue, you could always pass the invoice on to them and see what they say.

        But as you said

        And yeah I understand auctions are really just a crapshoot

        So you are pushing up hill on a good day. But worth a shot at least. They might kick something in. But for fighting them, I'm sure the T&C will cover them off under the all care but no responsibility clause.

        but then what's stopping them from just passing off every non-runner car as operational until someone pays for it?

        Honestly not much, but word of mouth/reviews etc should reflect this issue if they do it often.

        I mean it is a car, crap can happen at any time. Could anything from a blown fuse to a dead ECU somewhere.

  • Big risk. Dealers usually double up on the price of anything they pick up at Auction (and pad it some more), doesn't even matter if they're lemons.

    A Toyota or honda with less than 160k on the odo, engine turns over and no weird noises is usually a safe bet. Say no to a hybrid second hand.

    150-160k on the odo, 10 years old or less, from an auction is about the limit of what I'd buy second hand. About half of the reliable lifespan is over with until uneconomical repairs start to give you grief.

    • It’s a 2008 IS250, just above 130k km.

      I usually steer clear of auctions, just this time because I’ve been searching for one in good conditions with all service history.

  • +3

    What kind of car?
    Did the auction try to jump start it or anything? The last car I bought from an auction had a flat battery.

    • We ruled out battery because all the electronics inside the car are working - ie lights, fans

      Just not starting, that’s why suspecting ECU or something up with the starter maybe

      • +1

        Sounds like somebody jumped the IS250 to check it out, maybe it worked (or didn't) and they looked at each other and walked away after probably damaging the ECU. You are the one then left holding the bag with no idea someone borked the vehicle.

        OR the battery got so low, it lost all of it's factory settings and now it needs reconfigured to turn the engine over again.

        Otherwise check the starter motor. Sometimes they die relatively young, I've had it happen on a few vehicles with under 100k kms.

        • OR the battery got so low, it lost all of it's factory settings and now it needs reconfigured to turn the engine over again.

          That's not actually possible.

          Otherwise check the starter motor. Sometimes they die relatively young, I've had it happen on a few vehicles with under 100k kms.

          It's cranking over but not starting, not the starter.

          • @brendanm: Example, Repco now refuses to do battery replacements because of previous dramas. Supercheap Auto is also very selective of which cars they replace batteries on. You would be surprised.

            Where did he say it was turning the engine over?

            • @Bamboozle:

              You would be surprised.

              No, I wouldn't, because it's not a thing. All that sort of stuff is kept in non volatile memory.

              Where did he say it was turning the engine over?

              It said it doesn't start, not it doesn't crank.

              • -1

                @brendanm: Until there's more specific information from the OP, it's hard to know.

                But yeah anyway, it is a thing and as time goes on it's becoming a chore to even change a car battery. The Euro's would have to be the worst for this, but anything high end and modern is starting to go that way.

                • +1

                  @Bamboozle:

                  But yeah anyway, it is a thing and as time goes on it's becoming a chore to even change a car battery. The Euro's would have to be the worst for this, but anything high end and modern is starting to go that way.

                  How many batteries and ECU's have you replaced?

                  I literally did a Merc c230 ecu last week, opened the ecu, copied out the security information kept on the ecu, and put it into a used ecu. It is not at all affected by battery voltage.

                  • -1

                    @brendanm: Enough of them.

                    Pre 2000s Merc? You're in a time machine of sorts my friend.

                    On modern vehicles they hold settings, some more convoluted a system than others. Some vehicles won't even start without being hooked up to a computer and configured to turn the engine over again.

                    • @Bamboozle:

                      Enough of them.

                      I'll take that as not many.

                      Pre 2000s Merc? You're in a time machine of sorts my friend.

                      Lol, it's not pre 2000s, you seem to have no idea at all.

                      On modern vehicles they hold settings, some more convoluted a system than others. Some vehicles won't even start without being hooked up to a computer and configured to turn the engine over again.

                      I replace these sorts of things daily mate, you have no clue what you are talking about. I've probably replaced $70-80k worth of ECU's in the past 6 months

                      • @brendanm: Except I do know…

                        What year model c230?

                        • +2

                          @Bamboozle: cars do lose the settings when you disconnect the battery… for the stereo

                          but do you think toyota would somehow lose the settings to start the car when you disconnect the battery???

                          do you think toyota is that dumb?

                        • @Bamboozle:

                          Except I do know…

                          Except you don't. I've been an automotive and marine mechanic for 18 years or so, have replaced or reprogrammed a grand total of zero (0) ECU's because of flat or replaced batteries. None. Zip. Nada.

                          What year model c230?

                          2006
                          Not the usual thing I like to buy, but pickings have been slim with covid sadly.

                          • -3

                            @brendanm: It's also possible someone has disconnected the battery to charge it at the yard.

                            It's not unheard of for vehicles to refuse to start after a battery disconnection & reconnection, for a variety of reasons.

                            Hell I just send the OP something related to Lexus vehicles not wanting to start/turnover/run after changing the battery.

                            • @Bamboozle:

                              It's also possible someone has disconnected the battery to charge it at the yard.

                              Op says all electronics are working.

                              It's not unheard of for vehicles to refuse to start after a battery disconnection & reconnection, for a variety of reasons.

                              It is basically unheard of, unless some numpty puts the battery terminals on the wrong way around.

                              • -3

                                @brendanm: I can't talk to you because now I really know you are ignorant of the matter.

                                • @Bamboozle:

                                  I can't talk to you because now I really know you are ignorant of the matter.

                                  As Alanis Morissette said, "isn't it ironic".

                                  • +3

                                    @brendanm: Thanks for the Friday night entertainment fellas. Sweet dreams and don't let the bed buggies bite.

                                  • @brendanm: Modern cars, euro cars, depends on the vehicle, but it is an absolute fact that some vehicles once the batteries drop below 5v or have their batteries changed out for another, may need to be connected to a computer and reconfigured. Some are convoluted like that, some just require a few pedal and dash button presses to register a new battery.

                                    The fact you claim it is impossible and doesn't happen unless someone does something wrong is completely ignorant.

                                    • @Bamboozle:

                                      The fact you claim it is impossible and doesn't happen unless someone does something wrong is completely ignorant.

                                      I didn't claim it was impossible, I'm sure there has been some weird situation once where this has actually been true.

                                      The difference here is, you got your "knowledge" from internet forums, I actually deal with it in real life.

  • +1

    What car? What auction house?

    • +1

      ‘08 IS250 from Lloyd’s

      • +2

        Shouldn't be anything too major then, and pickles is actually decent. Thought you were going to say it was a Saab from grays, that would have been a different story.

        • +2

          A Gray Saab 900 - beautiful

        • Pickles sell plenty of lemons. They absolve all responsibility after all.

          • @Bamboozle: Every auction house sells lemons, it's the entire point. Pickles are actually a decent company though, they are generally honest with their descriptions, unlike grays, who's cars are the biggest shitboxes around, with terrible photos that hide all the issues.

            • @brendanm: I wouldn't touch a vehicle sight unseen without being able to at least allow an obd connection with a laptop, and actually run the engine.

              Hell I'd check the health of the battery itself and if it was on the weak side or couldn't handle a quick and dirty load test, I'd bypass it for another vehicle.

              • +3

                @Bamboozle:

                I wouldn't touch a vehicle sight unseen without being able to at least allow an obd connection with a laptop, and actually run the engine.

                You aren't the target market for an auction car. They are cheaper (or were) because you could get a good one, or you could get one that needs work.

                Hell I'd check the health of the battery itself and if it was on the weak side or couldn't handle a quick and dirty load test, I'd bypass it for another vehicle.

                Wow, you wouldn't buy a car because it has a weak battery, insane.

                • @brendanm: Not if you can't change it out in the yard for another. A weak battery can cause all sorts of grief and you wouldn't know what's going on without a big risk. Unless its dirt cheap of course, have to weigh it up.

                  • @Bamboozle: Lol, that's the point of auctions.

                    • @brendanm: It's a crapshoot for dealers with their mechanics to try and turn some easy money you mean.

                      I'm just saying you really should do your homework unless a low km recent model example from a known to be reliable manufacturer.

                      • @Bamboozle:

                        It's a crapshoot for dealers with their mechanics to try and turn some easy money you mean.

                        No, it's for anyone with half a clue.

                        I'm just saying you really should do your homework

                        Obviously, however the very nature of auctions (as is where is), means that people probably shouldn't buy from them in general. There is often a reason that cars for to auction. They also make the prices ridiculous for those that actually know what they are buying, which is annoying.

                        • @brendanm: OP f'ed around and found out.

                          The whole idea of auctions is that worse comes to worse, you're in the trade and you trailer a car to your own garage and you and your people work on whatever basket case you bought and you fix it to a point you can sell it (to a moron) —-> profit

                          I feel that auction houses made their own bed by making it 'easy' and 'simple' for numpties to buy what seems to be a decent car for a low price "skipping the middleman"

                          but is it? is it really?

                          TBF sometimes this will work out. I know people who bought at auction and got a decent car. In the same way I know people who bought a VAG car and it worked out.

                          But is it worth the risk? To some yeah. To OP… no.

                          • @tonyjzx: The auction houses don't care that idiots buy the cars, the higher the prices go, the more buyer premium they collect, it's in their interest to let as many people as possible bid. It's ruined it for everyone else though.

                            Unlike the buzzkill above, I enjoy buying cars sight unseen, you never know what you'll get.

                            • @brendanm: How many cars do they actually sell that are perfectly good mechanically but a little too rough looking for dealers?

                              Like what proportion of cars sold at auction actually need serious $ spent to keep them running?

                              • @Euphemistic: Who knows, tonnes of them are probably fine. Ops was probably fine and he is just unlucky. I purchased an ra rodeo dual cab from pickles many many moons ago that was actually better than described, had all new suspension, long range tank, full service history, was a bargain.

                                I send a few cars to auction that have no issues purely because I can not be bothered dealing with people.

          • +1

            @Bamboozle: Pickles were awesome years ago. Fixed price cars priced thousands below dealer prices, all looking like brand new (aside from horrible silicone in the interior) because they typically get panel beater to fix them up prior to sale. The fixed price cars with full service histories used to be very good buys. Now I do not spot any bargains whatsoever, most of the auctions go for well above what you hope for and are much riskier. Waste of time, might as well go to a dealer.

  • Unfortunately it's a gamble with the auctions, and more often than not why they often go below market value.
    They're cars that dealers may not want due to issues or people can't offload through the usual channels.

    Unfortunately recourse is hard as the auction house won't offer warranties and you receive the car as is. If it were a dealer then you'd have some sort of coverage, but of course this is factored into the price.

  • If you didn’t pay much you can run it back through the auction.. recoup some losses and put it down to experience

    • +1

      It has probably already done that. The process continues and the auction house just sits back and watches the cash come in.

  • +2

    As is = as is.

    There's a reason auction cars are generally below market value. There's also many reasons why cars get sent to auctions and most of them aren't particular good reasons.

  • +2

    They're standard auction terms ie. cars are sold as is, where is; no statutory warranty, no cooling off period

    Why does this thread exist?

    • user is hoping for a hail mary

      not realisitng that pickles manheim lloyds have been doing this for decades on hundreds of thousands of cars and probably ripped off thousands of people and yet they still come

      case in point op

  • As it was sitting there for some time someone could have swapped out the ecu or some other expensive part?
    Who knows…
    The reality is you own it, the problem is yours and according to the contract of sale the seller has no responsibility for anything… As is means just that.

  • Could be simple thing as ecu needs reset or a code has come up if the battery died..

    Could be the immobiliser.
    Could be a bad earth but being lexus probably won't be simple or cheap…

  • Wait until you find out if it’s a big issue.

    If not, the auction house ‘delivery team’ wasn’t staffed by anyone with mechanical aptitude and they couldn’t be bothered trying to start the car so made it your problem. It was going on a tow truck anyway.

    If it’s a big issue and is going to cost a lot to fix then you can consider your actions on chasing them for compensation. They showed you a running car but then did something to cause it to not run between payment and delivery.

    It’s most likely going to be a little issue and the delivery team was lazy.

  • Could be a flat battery that still has enough power to run the electronics and possibly even crank over the engine. But the voltage drops too low when cranking for the ecu.

  • I've thought about this. With some auction places you can start the car & drive a few meters back and forwards. Do a few checks like battery voltage, oil, water, etc.

    The only way I would do this is check it myself soon before the auction.

    By the way I know somebody from another forum who is a mechanic employed by an auction house in Victoria, maybe you should have asked if there is a mechanic on site.

  • Pending on what the diagnosis is, you are entitled to a full refund as vehicle was advertised as RUNNING.

    Could be as simple as a flat battery… but they would have checked that.

    DON'T pay any more money till you find out what is wrong

    • DON'T pay any more money till you find out what is wrong

      But if you're not an expert at these things, you have to pay to find out what is wrong! :(

  • Op, what sort of margin do you have for repairs to the car before it stops being a bargain?

    • I would say 3k+ in repair bills would bring it to market value