1) Inspect: Give items you are interested in purchasing close inspection. This should be done early on auction day, before the crowd arrives, or even better, the day before the auction, if possible. If it’s a running tractor you’re interested in, ask to drive it to listen and check for mechanical problems. Get underneath the tractor and look for broken casting or welds, as well as evidence of oil leaks.

2) Check For Title: The “fly in the ointment” at auctions is the car, pickup or truck that is road worthy but does not have a signed title. Many states have laws that prohibit the selling of untitled vehicles, yet it happens all too frequently. If a vehicle has been seized and the title owner is an unwilling seller who refuses to sign off, the buyer should be aware that he has a long and costly process ahead of him to obtain a legal title. The title is not as important to a buyer if he’s purchasing a damaged vehicle that he is going to use only for parts.

3) Use Etiquette: On the day of the auction, prior to starting time, I tell any other dealers there, “Don’t worry about me, just bid until you’re sick of it.” If I have a close personal friend at the auction, I will ask him if there’s something he came for so I can lay off bidding on it. If a fam
ily member wants to buy his father’s or grandfather’s tractor at auction, I never bid up the item. The best way not to offend people who know you is to position your- self directly in front of the auctioneer so everyone is behind you and you honestly don’t know who else is bidding.

4) Winner Beware: After you have won a bid, if the item is small enough, either keep it at your feet or put it in your locked vehicle so it can’t “walk away.”
If it’s a large item, such as a tractor or car, have a trusted friend stand with it until you can load it or move it to a safe location, if possible. If I have to leave a large item to be picked up later, I write “sold” and my name in clear sight on the tires or flat metal. Would-be thieves are more discouraged seeing that identification than just your bidding number on the item. Jealousy and theft are very real problems at auctions.

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