Government car auctions are generally stocked with cars that were used by the local authorities, or that were repossessed as part of government business recently. This can be everything from the old police car they finally retired, or the mayor’s salvage car from the fender bender outside the courthouse a few months ago. Depending on where you live, there could be quite a lot of cars available at these dealer auctions, and since the government is usually more concerned with getting rid of the cars, it’s easy to find fantastic prices. Here’s what you need to know to be a smart buyer at these auctions.
DO: Bring a mechanic
The most important thing to remember about government dealer auctions is that cars are sold as-is, and the government is probably not going to supply a mechanic to be on site. Instead, bring your own and have them give the car an inspection before you buy. Check for cosmetic damage, electrical damage, and general shape under the hood. You will have to take care of all repairs, so the more thorough the picture is, the better you’ll understand your profit margin.
DO: Show up early
Like most other dealer auctions, it is expected that you’ll be there a little early to inspect cars before the bidding begins. If you know that the car you want isn’t going to be on the block till the afternoon, you could wait till lunch time to show up – just be ahead of whenever your favorite car is coming up for bidding.
DON’T: Get attached
One trick that auctioneers use to get bids is to help people imagine themselves behind the wheel, or driving the new acquisition away to the resale lot. The more you think of the car as your own, the more you are likely to overvalue it. Don’t allow yourself to get too attached to anything so that you can keep a clear head in the bidding.
DON’T: Forget to check the VIN numbers
Buying a car with a VIN that doesn’t match its papers is a big mistake. You won’t be able to insure it, it could be stolen, and there could be hidden damage that you don’t know about. No matter how good the deal is, the risk is too high with a vehicle like this.
If you are an experienced buyer, then a government auction is nothing new for you. If you are a new buyer just keeping up with buying and selling a single used car at a time, then government auctions can be tough to navigate properly.
Try Online Dealer Auctions
If you’d rather not spend all your time browsing auctions, trying to keep in mind everything you need to get a great deal, you can instead join into an online auction site. You can bid on cars from all over that you may never have come into contact with otherwise, and without the pressure of a lively auction pressuring you into buying, you can also be wiser with your money.