Hammer Time: The Auto Auction Translator

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time the auto auction translator

Today Hammer Time brings you its guide to commonly-used auto auction phrases and their translations.

Car Dealer – “You can have it if you want it.”

Translation – “I know you’re going to run the bid up anyhow. So go ahead and *%$&! take it.”

Car Dealer – “This car is a bad boy.”

Translation – It drinks. It smokes. Some day soon it will be hanging out with the other bad boys at the neighborhood junkyard.

Car Dealer – “What do you think is gonna be the money on that car?”

Translation – “I haven’t bought a Volvo station wagon in so long… I have no clue where the market’s at. I need you to help me so I don’t end up losing my ass on the damned thing.”

Car Dealer – “The auctioneer keeps on running me up.”

NOTE: ‘Running me up’ means the auctioneer pretends there’s another buyer bidding against you. Thereby making you pay more.

Translation – “My tow guy is already slashing the tires on the auctioneer’s car. One more time and his windows get busted too.”

Car Dealer – “That car has a coolant leak.”

Translation – “…Because I cut the lower radiator hose.”

Car Dealer – “That car won’t start.”

Translation – “…Because I pulled the fuse”

Car Dealer – “That car has a nasty history”

Translation – “Just take a whiff inside of the car and you’ll see exactly what I mean.”

Car Dealer – “It has a perfect Carfax.”

Translation – “I already know it was wrecked. Hopefully I can buy it cheap and sell it to some dumb Yuppie who believes in Carfax reports.”

Car Dealer – “The money is too high today.”

Translation – “There are so many money launderers and other subsidized entities at this sale… I should have just gone fishing.”

Car Dealer – “It’s a great car.”

Translation – “I can’t sell the damn thing. But if I tell you it’s a great car you may buy it off me.”

Car Dealer – “He’s got no money”

Translation: The auctioneer is pretending like he has bidders on the vehicle when he actually has himself and the Coke machine.

Car Dealer – “That was a quick hammer!”

Translation – The auctioneer pretended like he didn’t have money and then sold it to his buddy… or the auction owner… or himself…

Car Dealer – “The auctioneer has a buddy.”

Translation – His buddy is helping him buy vehicles. He’s quick hammering every deal he can get. It’s a federal crime but good luck proving it.

Car Dealer – “I just got brother-in-lawed”

Translation – The auctioneer didn’t take my bid and sold it to his buddy instead.

Car Dealer – “Finance fodder.”

Translation – Late model vehicles that typically go for healthy premiums at the auctions.

Car Dealer – “Sleds”

Translation – Low end cars that typically sell for $5000 or less.

Car Dealer – “That car will shine up.”

Translation – The car is as rough as a wore out mop. Some cars can take a beating. But buying this one and fixing all the problems will be like polishing a turd.

Car Dealer – “I haven’t seen one of those in a while. Looks to be dealer kept.”

Translation – Some poor soul spent thousands to keep that bad boy running.

Car Dealer – “It died of stage fright.”

Translation – It quit running before it to the auction block.

Car Dealer – “It has the turd engine.”

Translation – The car has either the low horsepower engine (Mustang & Camaro V6’s) or a defect prone engine (Chrysler 2.7L, VW/Audi 1.8L)

Car Dealer – “I got it when they were napping.”

Translation – “Everyone was looking at the car(s) that were coming and didn’t pay attention to the one I bought. Got it cheap.”

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6 of 8 comments
  • Detroit-Iron Detroit-Iron on Sep 10, 2010

    OK, so what the heck is the auctioneer yelling over the crappy PA?

  • Ckb Ckb on Sep 10, 2010

    Based on this list everything a dealer says at an auction is highly negative or a complete lie. And thats just what they say to other dealers who are supposedly in the know? Are there any decent used cars out there? (yes I've been reading your columns but I'm not ready to trade my M3 in for a 1st gen insight). I guess dealers deserve the reputation they have. Glad I bought my last car off craigslist (knock on wood). And carfax is truly worthless too? Wouldn't they at least turn up accidents reported to police?

    • See 3 previous
    • Beelzebubba Beelzebubba on Sep 11, 2010

      Carfax data comes from a number of sources, but it varies from state to state, or even city to city. Insurance companies are only obligated to report vehicles that are totaled or stolen. State registration agencies 'may' report the same info as well as vehicle use, location registered, ownership transfer and lien info. A small percentage of law enforcement agencies report 'some' accidents, but most don't. The vast majority of minor/moderate collisions are reported by collision repair facilities (body shops). While some larger repair facilities may report all/most repairs, I can only image the hundreds (or even thousands) of smaller local body shops that don't ever report a thing.... Even if an event is reported to Carfax, it can take two months for it to appear on the report for that vehicle. I have heard of more than a few dishonest owners trading or selling their repaired vehicles right out of the body shop, before anything could show up on Carfax or similar reports. That is not only unethical and dishonest, it's also a crime in some states including mine.

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.