"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.
First, read the property information and Terms of Sale on the website for the specific property you are interested in.  Attend a scheduled open house.  Register to bid at the auction location the day of sale during the registration period.  You must bring a valid government issued photo ID and the required cashier’s check deposit to register.  A bidder number will be issued upon completion of registration.  Click here to view the bidder registration form. This form can be printed out and completed prior to the auction. You do not need to mail or fax the completed form, just bring it to the auction to register. Forms will also be available at the auction. You should read and understand the Terms of Sale before you bid. Sales personnel at the auction site can answer any questions you may have.
Do the homework, sometimes even ‘bad’ car can be a great deal at an auction. I recently bought a minivan that was listed as having a blown transmission. A little research discovered this is a common problem for that make and year. At the preview, I had my mechanic (whom I trust) on speed dial and got an estimate on the spot to replace the transmission with a new, 5-year warrentied rebuilt one. The bids on the van were low (who’d buy a vehicle with a bad transmission?), and even with the purchase price, the cost of the new transmission and towing to my mechanic, it still came in way below KBB value. And I know it has a worry-free transmission for the next 5 years. So don’t let even a ‘problem’ car scare you off if you’re willing to do the homework and hassle of getting it fixed.
Sitting on the couch, craft beer in hand, we salivate over the parade of shining classic cars rolling across the auction block at Barrett-Jackson, changing hands for ungodly globs of cold, hard cash. It’s places like this where you can pick up cars like custom built Singer Porsches, old-school hot rods, vintage Ferraris, and soon to be released, serial #001 supercars, and as the drinks get stronger, so too does the bidding.
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."
A well-maintained car will always have a clean dipstick when you check the oil or transmission fluid, so if it’s anything other than light and transparent, be careful. Also be sure to inspect the coolant overflow tank and shine a flashlight inside the radiator. If it looks like someone accidentally dumped chocolate milk in there it’s time to walk away, because that’s the sign of a blown head gasket.
General Disclaimer: Get Rich Slowly is an independent website managed by J.D. Roth, who is not a trained financial expert. His knowledge comes from the school of hard knocks. He does his best to provide accurate, useful info, but makes no guarantee that all readers will achieve the same level of success. If you have questions, consult a trained professional.

Policeauctions.com is run by a private company and is not affiliated with the government. It provides information and links to government-run auctions, but the site itself is part of the wholesale liquidation auction market. Items are sold as is and sometimes there are fees. You have to register to bid and get information, but it doesn’t cost anything to join the site.
The following link will take you to the sale list for the next abandoned & confiscated vehicle auction. Be advised that some of these vehicles will not be present on the day of sale, as owners/lien holders will have reclaimed the vehicles. You must be present at the sale preview to know what remaining vehicles will be offered and to view vehicle conditions.
As you browse the government auction sites above, you'll notice some link you to additional sites run by private contractors. These contractors have legitimate relationships with the government, but bidder beware: other private companies will try to make their auctions seem like government auctions as a marketing ploy. Always start with the legitimate links provided by the government itself. Good luck!
Inspect the items - Before you bid on anything, carefully inspect all of the items first. You would also like to get a better idea of what the items you will be bidding on could be worth. In case you are bidding on an online auction, you will need to rely on the picture and the description of the item. You need to do all of your research in advance, as all of the sales at the police auction are final once they accepted you bid. By doing your research in advance you will ensure that you are buying real bargains and not overpaying for the items that you are bidding on.
The Mission-Viejo, Calif.-based company was founded in 1999 by former police officers, who visualized a profitable Internet solution for a longstanding problem – what to do with recovered stolen goods that went unclaimed and were spilling out of police evidence rooms across the country. PropertyRoom.com now works with more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies. The roster includes police departments in New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Albuquerque.
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. 

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These programs are meant to benefit taxpayers as a whole, but could they benefit you, the individual taxpayer? Can you bag a bargain at a government auction? "GSA's goal is to maximize return to the federal government," the GSA spokesperson said. So they're not giving this stuff away. In fact, the government sets "reserves" or minimums for the most valuable property it auctions off. But judging from a wide tour of current government auctions and bids, there are still opportunities to walk away with valuable goods for a great price. Here's a look at who's selling what, where, and for how much. 

Capital Auto Auction hosts weekly live auctions at each of our four locations, as well as online. Whether you attend a live auto auction or an online auto auction, you'll find quality used vehicles listed at the kind of bargain prices that typically only dealers see. Our vehicles may be repossessions, dealer consignments, government vehicles or donations. In every case, they are auctioned openly to the public so it's easy for customers to find or sell the vehicles they need. What's more, it's not just individual cars that we work with, either; through a fleet auto auction, you have a way to quickly dispose of fleet vehicles you no longer need.


Government auctions are a great way to snag a retiring cop cruiser on the cheap, and being owned and run by the feds, you better believe it’s going to have records of every oil change, spark plug, and water pump that went into the damn thing. Nevertheless, it’s always best to remain objective, because even though it’s being sold by the United States government, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been thrashed. The competition at these things can also be pretty fierce at times (cab companies love old Crown Vics), so if cop cruisers and confiscated drug trafficking cars aren’t your thing, there are probably other options out there for you, like public auctions.
Do the homework, sometimes even ‘bad’ car can be a great deal at an auction. I recently bought a minivan that was listed as having a blown transmission. A little research discovered this is a common problem for that make and year. At the preview, I had my mechanic (whom I trust) on speed dial and got an estimate on the spot to replace the transmission with a new, 5-year warrentied rebuilt one. The bids on the van were low (who’d buy a vehicle with a bad transmission?), and even with the purchase price, the cost of the new transmission and towing to my mechanic, it still came in way below KBB value. And I know it has a worry-free transmission for the next 5 years. So don’t let even a ‘problem’ car scare you off if you’re willing to do the homework and hassle of getting it fixed.

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From our early days as an online police auction site, there was one piece of property & evidence that we did not touch – firearms. However, recently for many states and jurisdictions it has become a requirement, and even mandated, for law enforcement agencies to auction off their seized, forfeited and unclaimed firearms just as they do with other parts of the property and evidence room.

This is about auctions where the cars are the most ordinary of ordinary vehicles: Ford Crown Victorias coming off six years of patrol duty with the county sheriff's department. Toyota Tercels with so much mileage that their odometers have worn off the printed numerals. Plain sedans, base model pickups and early '90s Pontiac Firebirds confiscated in drug stings. Cars you can get cheap—maybe.
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Easy Payment: Pay manually or use Auto Pay! Manual payment allows you to choose which card you want to use on every transaction. Auto Pay is set up through your account details. By keeping a valid payment method on file, your auctions will be processed automatically so that you never miss a payment! Special discounts are available to customers choosing Auto Pay.
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