There are three basic ways to buy a car: At a dealer, through a private sale or at an auction. Of those three methods, buying a car at an auction might be the most unique and rewarding experience. There isn’t a lot of haggling and you could score a great ride. Of course, there is no guarantee that you’ll leave a car auction with a car. It might also be that the auction isn’t putting up any cars you would be interested in. Still, it might be worth checking out the next auction in your neck of the woods. Here are some tips to help you score a deal at a car auction:

Research Early

Most car auctions will generate a catalog. This will let you look over the autos that are available and do some research with regard to vehicle history and prices. You can probably find that catalog online through the auction site. On the day of the auction, you want to get there as early as possible in order to check out the cars that you’ve “targeted.” Check under the hood, look for paint patches and also get into the interior to check for any musty smells that might indicate this car was once flooded.

If you get there early, then you can also run the number of the car that you’re interested in for any past accidents. That could inform your decision about what car to buy.

Bring a Buddy

It helps to have a second pair of eyes on the cars that you’re picking out. That is why you should bring a buddy with you to the auction. They might spot something that you don’t.

Check for Extra Fees

The winning bid is not the final cost of the car. The auction house needs a “piece of the action.” That will usually come in a fee that is around 8 to 10% of the final price. Some of these auction houses waive the fee if you sign up for a membership. That only works if you plan on buying multiple cars. If you are buying just one time, then you’ll want to factor in the fee for your buying budget.

Be Sure to Register

Most auction houses require you to register in advance. This has a lot to do with payment methods, which you also want to check out. Some auctions are the cash-only business. Others can let you purchase with a credit card. Either way, registering will also provide you with your official bidding number. That will be printed on a card large enough for the auctioneer to read when you hold it up in the air for a bid.

Speaking of the auctioneer, be sure to listen to what they have to say about the auto before that start taking bids. They will have information in a summary that might not be available in a catalog.

Finally, be sure you make plans for taking your car home. This is another reason to come with a buddy. If you win the auction, then you will probably have 24 hours to remove the car from the lot. There is no reason why you can’t drive it off that day.