Police and seized car auctions are a good place to find a used car. It’s possible to find a car, purchase it, and drive it home the first day without a lot of red tape or hassel. However, you should make sure that you know what you’re doing before you go. A car can be a long-term investment.
What is not a scam is that the federal government really is actively making second hand luxury vehicles available for sale. Some cars the feds owns but want to dispose of. These vehicles are usually vehicles that are no longer needed in service for the federal government.
However, most of these vehicles offered by the government are not actually owned by the feds, but have been seized because of criminal activities. Vehicles that are used in the commission of certain crimes, particularly drug offenses, often become the property of the arresting agency, depending on local laws. While these seized vehicles are occasionally used by the agency, in the vast majority of cases, the vehicles are sold at auction.
Before you start placing your bids on that sweet ‘Vet that you fell in love with on first sight while browsing your favorite online auto auction site, remember that a picture is only worth so many words, which makes it difficult to get a complete assessment of a vehicle.
Do your homework and due diligence first. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
You need to make sure that you have enough money in your bank account before you attend a car auction. All cars purchased at a car auction must be paid in full. It won’t work to say, “I’ll give you a portion now and the rest later” I’ll give you half now and the rest when I get paid.” That’s not going to work. You must have the total cost of the vehicle.
» These cars are typically sold “as is” and not only is the auction house not responsible for any damages, but they are also likely not aware of them.
It is not their business to do inspections or validate the condition of the cars they are selling. You might want to purchase an extended warranty on the vehicle you win from auction so that you are covered for any unexpected problems or expenses.
» There are some cases where the automobiles will come with a warranty and if this is the case, they will let you know before bidding but typically there is not one, especially with repo cars.
» Car auctions are competitive, and it’s possible to end up paying more than the vehicle is worth. Have your Kelly Blue Book handy and do not pay over the blue book price. Some people will run up the bid price because they have no idea what the auto is worth.
» If possible, bring along a specialist in bidding for a car. Vital information is important to know whether a car is of decent quality.
» Remember: state and government seized cars are those that are done by people who committed crimes, so the seized cars may be more damaged and more fragile than a car that the government may have seized in a different manner (a repossession, for instance).
» Be careful. Before you ever place a bid, pull a Carfax or Autocheck by Experian. This will reveal possible odometer and title problems. Important issues like if the car has been wrecked or flooded is also revealed.