Top Car and Vehicle Auction Terms Explained

This article is part of a series dealing with the basics of UK car and vehicle auctions. Some of the terms used may apply to other countries but specific vehicle requirements are UK based.

• Auction – The process by which items are sold to the highest bidder within a competitive environment
• Auctioneer – The person responsible for controlling the auction

• Bid – An amount of money offered by a bidder for a particular lot
• Bidder – A person or company competing to purchase a particular lot
• Bidding Number – A unique number assigned to a bidder during some types of auction
• Buyers Fee – An amount of money added to the Hammer Price of a particular lot or purchase – sometimes called Commission

• Cashier – A member of Auction staff responsible for taking payment from buyers and releasing Vehicle Documents and Pass Outs
• Catalogue – A list of the items for sale in any one auction
• Closed Auction – A sale only available for invited buyers
• Commercial Vehicles – Any item at auction that is primarily used for a business nature.
Can include vans, trucks, tractors and plant items
• Commission – See Buyers Fee
• Company Fleet – A group of vehicles used for the needs of a business or organisation and usually leased from a leasing company
• Contract Hire – A form of long term leasing agreement offered by Leasing Companies
• Cover Note – A certificate of motor insurance offered by insurance companies as a temporary measure until full certification arrives

• Date of First Registration – The time at which a vehicle was assigned is Registration Number
• Dealer Group – A chain of car dealerships operating either under a manufacturer franchise or independently and selling one or more make of vehicle from one or more geographic location. A type of buyer and vendor at car auctions
• Dealership – A single location within a Dealer Group. An independent car dealer
• Deposit – The amount of money that must be paid in order to bid in any given auction, or to secure a bid on any given vehicle
• Drive Away Insurance – Cover offered by insurance companies to allow a buyer to drive a vehicle after purchase. Sometimes offered free through auctions
• Dutch Auction – A variant of the English Auction system where the Auctioneer begins with a high asking price which is then lowered until a bidder accepts
• DVLA – The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, an Executive Office of the Department for Transport (DfT)

• English Auction – The most widely used and recognisable system of auctioneering whereby the sale of an item is determined by an increase in the value of bids until a final bid and bidder remain
• Entry Details – Information shown on the Windscreen Entry Form describing the vehicle such as the current Odometer reading, Service History, MOT and Road Tax status and other information of interest to Buyers
• Entry Fee – The cost to enter your vehicle into any given auction

• Fee – Any charge added to the cost of selling or buying a vehicle at auction
• Finance House – A company that leases vehicles to businesses, organisations or to private individuals. A type of seller at car auctions
• Fleet Vehicles – A car or van which has previously been leased by a company or organisation
• Former Keepers – The number of persons, organisations or companies which have previously kept any given vehicle

• Gavel – The official name for an auctioneers hammer

• Hall – The area in which the auction takes place. There can be one or more halls situated within an auction site
• Hammer Price – The value at which an item or lot is sold. This value is set once the auctioneer declares the item as sold and brings down the gavel

• Inspection Report – A document created by an engineer or auction employee highlighting any damage or issues with a vehicle


• Key Room – The office within an auction site where vehicle keys will be kept and released to a buyer upon presentation of a Pass Out

• Leasing Company – An organisation which leases vehicles to business or organisations to form their fleet. A type of seller at car auctions
• Log Book – An common name used for a vehicles Vehicle Registration Document or V5c
• Lot – Any item for sale within any given auction
• Lot Number – The unique number assigned to any item for sale in any given auction

• Main Agent – The authorised seller and service centre of a particular type, or types, of vehicle within a given geographical area. May also be used in reference to a vehicle’s Service History which may include their stamp
• Manufacturer – The maker of a type of vehicle. A type of seller at car auctions
• Margin – The difference between costs and outlay to acquire an item and the total subsequent sale value
• Mileage – The current miles travelled by any particular vehicle as shown on the vehicle’s Odometer
• MOT – A certificate confirming that at the time of the last test, a vehicle met the minimum statutory safety and environmental standards

• Non-runner – Used to describe a vehicle when the engine will not start

• Odometer – A device which records the current miles travelled by a vehicle and then displays this record
• Open Auction – A sale where anybody is free to attend and bid

• Part X – Vehicles offered at auction that have been traded to a Dealership in return for a new vehicle
• Pass Out – A form given to the buyer of a vehicle indicating that the sale is complete and allowing the buyer to remove the vehicle from the auction site
• Plant – A term used to describe any items which do not fit into the general sale categories. Can mainly be used to describe agricultural machinery, industrial items or non road vehicles
• Plate – Term used to refer to a vehicles registration number
• Private Buyer – The term used to describe a member of the public not associated, or bidding for, commercial gain
• Provisional Bid – The system whereby the auction will contact the vendor and offer them the highest bid achieved during an auction if this bid has not met the set reserve price


• Registration Number – The unique code assigned to a vehicle by the DVLA and used to identify it
• Remarketing – The industry term used to describe the sale of used vehicles at auction
• Reserve – The minimum sale value set by the vendor on any one lot
• Road tax – The statutory amount payable on all vehicles in order to drive them on UK roads.
• Rostrum – The stage or podium where the auctioneer stands and from where the auction is controlled
• Rostrum Clerk – An Assistant to the Auctioneer who acts as a Customer Liaison during the auction

• Sale – The time during which the Auction takes place
• Service History – Details of a vehicles maintenance and past. Will include details of when, and at what mileage, services have been carried out on a vehicle. Stamps may include those from Local Garages or Main Agents
• Sold as Seen – The process by which vehicles are offered and/or sold without guarantee

• Tax Disk – Certificate attached to the inside of a vehicles windscreen confirming that it has current Road Tax
• Trade – Buyers or sellers at auction whom operate within the Automotive Industry

• Unsold- A vehicle that has been entered at auction and has not been bought either due to lack of interest from Buyers, the final bid not reaching the Reserve or the Seller rejecting a Provisional Bid

• V5C – Also known as a log book. Shows the present registered keeper of the vehicle and is used to inform the DVLA of any change in ownership
• VAT Marginal – Applicable to Trade buyers who will be required to pay VAT on their Margin when they sell the vehicle on
• VAT Qualifying – Applicable to Trade buyers. VAT is payable on the Hammer Price of a vehicle
• Vehicle Documents – The collective term used to describe all legal and additional documents relating to a vehicle
• Vehicle Logistics – The process and system of arranging vehicles for collection and delivery to and from auction sites
• Vendor – A company, organisation or individual selling their vehicle(s) at auction

• Warranted Mileage – Used to describe when a vehicle’s vendor has confirmed that the current Odometer reading is correct and accurate
• Windscreen Entry Form – A document attached to the inside of a vehicle showing the vehicle’s Entry Details

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