Police impounded cars are those once owned by someone who has failed to pay a fee to get their car back after a crime. Generally, if you’re pulled over and judged unfit to continue driving, the police take your car to the impound, where it stays until you pay a fee to retrieve it. Some people never pay this fee, and the car becomes the property of the police.
To get rid of these cars, police often sell them at auctions for a much lower price than the vehicle is worth, which is a great chance for a deal. Here’s how to navigate the process of purchasing police impounded cars.
Step 1: Understand the two auction types. There are two ways that impounded cars are auctioned: live auctions and online auctions.
A live auction is the traditional auction we all think of when the term is used. You go to the physical location in person and make bids on the car you like. It has all the trappings of an auction: a quick-tongued auctioneer, bidding wars, and friendly competition.
An online auction is similar in that cars are really sold and bidding wars still happen, but the whole process is mediated by your computer screen. You don’t actually have to leave your home, but you are not able to see the cars in person and make your own determinations about them.
Ultimately, both are great ways to buy impounded cars, but you may have a preference for one or the other.
Step 2: Search around for auctions. Generally, auctions will be publicized, so check all the usual places for any information.
You can look in the newspaper or online, or you can simply call around for a bit more information.
Step 3: Arrive at the auction house. Go to wherever the auction is being held, and get there in time to do a little preparation.
If you have a car in mind, then take a look at it. Check it for any visible problems, including scratches and dents. If possible, ask some questions about how well it runs and if there is any known damage. Determine if it is possible to do a VIN check on the car.
Getting as many answers as possible before you start bidding will let you know what you can expect from the car before buying it.
Step 4: Register at the auction house. Registering will grant you access to all the privileges of the auction.
You’ll be given an identifying number that will let the authorities know who you are.
Step 5: Start bidding. Once the auction is underway, then be ready to start bidding on the car or cars you are interested in.
When you are ready to bid at the price point announced, raise your sign or follow the instructions given to make a bid. If you are doing an online auction, the website will give you prompts for entering your bids, your highest bid, and possibly exceeding this bid.
In all likelihood, someone else will also make a bid, so if the car is really attractive to you, try to outcompete the other bidders. Once no one else makes a higher bid, the car will be sold to you.
Remember not to bid recklessly. This means, first, recognizing the bid you make entails the responsibility to pay that amount should you win. Secondly, don’t get so caught up in a bidding war that you exceed your budget or pay more than the car is really worth. Having firm limits is key to coming out of an auction with a profit.
Step 6: Acquire the car. Once everything has settled down, you’ll pay for and get your car.
You’ll need someone to drive the car home for you, so make prior arrangements with a friend or family member to be present.
Whether you are purchasing a used car for your own personal use or are planning to sell it off for a profit, buying police impounded or seized cars is a great way to get a car cheaply and even have a little fun at the same time.