Buyer Tips

Government Auctions vs. Salvage Dealer Auctions

By Mike Richards Updated: 08/10/2019 Posted: 06/23/2017

We all need vehicles, but most of us would rather not spend the kind of money they require. This is why auto auctions have become so popular.

However, before you can take advantage of the types of deals they offer, you should know about two very common types. Below, we’ll prepare you for either a government or salvage dealer auction (GSA) so you understand what to expect.

What You Can Expect from a Government Auction

At a government auction, you’re mostly going to find ex-government (gov) vehicles. This largely means cop cars, but that can encompass a number of different options. You could find anything from an older Crown Victoria to a newer Tahoe.

Although the selection might seem a bit limited, these vehicles are generally in very good condition. You’re not going to find police cruisers that have been severely damaged or don’t run.

A lot of times, these auctions will also feature vehicles the government seized because they were tied to a crime. These are much more of a mixed bag. You could find Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and other high-end vehicles. You could also find vehicles that probably don’t have much longer to live. The government has no use for these vehicles, so they are auctioned off.

What You Can Expect from a Salvage Dealer Auction

As you probably guessed, if you go to a salvage dealer auction, you’re going to find a number of vehicles that have seen better days.

In fact, “salvage” is actually a designation used by the government. It generally refers to vehicles that have sustained enough damage that their insurance companies don’t want to pay for repairs. It’s not worth it for them, so they’d rather just auction the vehicle off to recoup as much as they can.

Now, that’s not to say that every single vehicle at a salvage dealer auction is going to be a complete piece of junk. Some literally are, though. They’re being purchased for parts and will never see the road again.

That being said, you can find some real steals at these auctions. Insurance companies can give up on vehicles for plenty of other reasons, too. While you’ll definitely have to pay for repairs (the government won’t let you drive a “salvage” car until necessary repairs are handled), your overall investment could still be very worth it.

Further Reading

Which One Is Better?

If most people had to pick an auction to buy their vehicle from, they would most likely go with the government auction. The vehicles are just going to be in far better shape.

However, it all depends on what you want from your purchase. If you have a very tight budget and/or are okay handling repairs, a salvage dealer auction may be preferable.

At Auto Auction Mall, we can help you make the most of your auction options, including other versions than the two we mentioned above. Your agent will listen to you describe the perfect vehicle, find out what you want to spend and then get busy scouring more than 200,000+ models from auctions all over the country.