Cars at public auctions are often those that wouldn't sell at wholesale dealer auctions. Yes, some are flood vehicles, and Hurricane Irene should still be fresh in your mind. Some are cars quickly reconditioned in dealership shops to fill in slow periods when there's otherwise little work to be done. And many are just flat out junk. "A car that goes across the block at a public auction that isn't spewing smoke is often packed with thick racing oil to ensure it doesn't," Lang continues. "Everything at a public auction looks shiny, but shiny doesn't mean much about the quality of the car."
It is strongly recommended that you attend the open houses/inspections that are scheduled prior to sale. The bidder is invited, urged, and cautioned to inspect the property prior to submitting a bid. Failure to inspect property shall not constitute cause for cancellation of sale. Property will be available for inspection only at the times specified.  At their own expense, potential bidders may have property inspectors examine the property during regularly scheduled open houses. 

"There are two types of public auctions," explains Steven Lang, who runs a used car dealership in the Atlanta area and once owned a dealer auction (not open to the public). "There are government auctions and there are public auctions." Both are full of potential pitfalls. Here's a quick rundown on both and 10 tips for getting the most out of either. That is, if you dare to venture into the auction pit.

K – Your assertions may be true for your stores, but that is not the case for the bulk of vehicles at auction. Many dealerships will send off brand trade ins to the auction (ex: Chevrolet dealer takes a Ford in on trade). Additionally dealerships will often “turn” their inventory sometime between 60-120 days. If they’ve purchased a car and it’s not moving many dealers will move it to get their cash back out of the car and put it back into another car that they might be able to retail, and make a profit on.
PLEASE READ THESE TERMS OF SALE CAREFULLY, AS THEY HAVE BEEN RECENTLY UPDATED.  THIS IS AN INTERNET-ONLY AUCTION!  AUCTION CLOSING DATE: Tuesday, March 19th, beginning at 11:07 am Bidding closes on the first item at 11:07 am, then closes at the rate discussed in these Terms and Conditions of Sale.  INSPECT: Thursday, March 14th, 10 am - 2   [ View Full Listing ]
Another problem that you might face with local police auctions is finding information related to their occurrence. You can find the information on websites that deals particularly in government auctions. After acquiring the information of its timings, you need to call the local police department, and register your bidder number. Bids only from registered bidders are considered in these seized car auctions. It is advisable to obtain Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) prior to bidding for the car and run it through the Carfax website. It helps in checking the past history and allows you to buy a clean car.
In recent years, public auctions have become commonly referred to as “the mechanic’s auction,” where lots can quickly become a money pit for novice bidders. There is no guarantee on the authenticity of the mileage on the odometer here, and since it’s an auction, you can’t drive the vehicle prior to bidding on it. This is a place where flood vehicles sell for top dollar after being hastily reupholstered in the hopes of duping amateur bidders, and cars with bad engines come loaded with heavy-duty oil in order to ensure it doesn’t belch smoke or leak on the auction block.

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