Saving Money At Repossessed, Seized, Government And Police Vehicle Auctions
But There's Some Things You Should Know First
Geez, there's just so little "real" information on open-to-the-public car auctions and the many web sites that claim you can buy cars for as little as $100 ... or pay just 90% of retail. You've probably seen them ... lots of hype.
It's a shame they oversell themselves because there are indeed opportunities to save a lot of money.
And while I happen to be a member at four of these sites, and they're most definitely worthwhile (one more than the others), the marketing hype can't help but create false expectations for many people outside the industry.
And if you do a search on google to try to find some information or reviews of these sites, it's unlikely you'll find anything realistic ... just alot of "click here to save 90%" crapola. I've tried extensively and the results have been pathetic.
But again, I'm not saying that there's not really good deals at these auctions. There are. But they make it sound like you join today, either bid on an online auction or go to an auction this afternoon and then drive off in your beautiful 2008 Audi TT for $1,000 ... zip, zap, zoom, you're done.
I can tell you from experience that this just isn't going to happen in the real world. Can you get a great deal on the Audi TT? Absolutely. But it will likely take some time and it's not going to be practically free.
So, Lets Talk Reality Here
Auctions CAN fit into your strategy for getting a great price on a car. And these auction web sites CAN make this easier for you. But let's look at both the pros and cons to establish realistic expectations. Then you can be in a better position to decide if this is something you'd like to pursue or not. (Also, here's a bit more for those learning about auctions).
First of all, there aren't a ton of open-to-the-public auctions to begin with. This means it's likely you're going to need at least some amount of patience. Some auctions are quarterly, some are monthly and there are a few that are weekly. They've got to build up an inventory of cars so it justifies the cost of putting on an auction. And this takes time.
So, unless you're a bit lucky, you probably won't run out to an auction to get your car this afternoon. I guess what I'm saying is it's not like visiting as many Dealerships as you want one weekend.
Next Is Pricing
There's going to be other shoppers bidding ... maybe even some Dealers. You're not going to get a "good", late-model car for a few hundred dollars. That being said, it's not unheard of to get a $20,000 car for $10,000 to $14,000 ... or a $15,000 car for $7,000 to $9,000. You can indeed get excellent buys below trade-in values, and sometimes way below. But just forget about real nice cars for "under $500", as is often the hype.
Are there cars for under $500? Of course there are. And often good buys too. But they are not the late-model cars.
You May Have To Go A Distance
The good auctions may not be right next door to you. Many auctions do not have online bidding. They're at a physical location. So, bear in mind that it may not be be particularly convenient.
Now, Let's Turn Our Attention To The Auction Web Sites
The bottom line is that having a data base of both the "online" and "on lot" auctions is extremely useful, but again it's a matter of proper "expectations".
You Will Save A Lot Of Time
Just try googling "public auctions your area". You'll find they're very hard to locate. Many of them have nothing to do with the internet so you just won't find them on the search engines. I think some are word of mouth or might be listed in the newspaper perhaps. And many sites you will find won't be auctions at all ... just sites pushing the auction web sites. You'll also find Dealer-Only auctions.
So having a data base at your figure tips is a big, big plus ... first for saving you time, and second for locating auctions you wouldn't otherwise have learned about.
But Not Everything Is Easy And Perfectly Laid Out
Expect to have to dig around a bit. As with any large data base, there are good listings and there are useless ones. You'll also find listings that do not have internet links. For example, there are some Sheriffs Auctions in my area with only the contact information. Expect to have to make some phone calls to find out what's for sale and to be put on the mailing list and so forth.
Listings can get mixed up sometimes as well. For example, you may be searching for car auctions but find auctions for antiques, homes or machinery mixed in ... or an auction in California listed in Florida. It's a data base and I suppose it's the nature of the beast.
The Results Will Be Inconsistent
Due to various auction schedules, there are times when the listings are active and other times when the pickings look fairly scarce.
You just don't know exactly what you'll find and when you'll find it.
All in all, these sites work best if you're not under a tight time schedule to make your purchase. You could get lucky and find your car fast, but I think a safer time table would be to allow yourself at least a few weeks.
So, How To I Find Them?
Okay, I've tried to lay out a more realistic overview of public car auctions as well as the web sites that maintain auction data bases. I'm actually a member at several different sites.
If you'd like to look into this for yourself, here's the one I think has the best data base and is also the easiest to use: Wholesale Car Auctions
They hype a bit too ... just don't pay any attention to it. :-)