A typical American household has an average of two light vehicles. Most people consider them necessary for their daily commute. Also, you likely will need them to travel and transport the items you need and your loved ones from one point to another. Unfortunately, the demand for cars is also pushing their prices upward.
To get ahold of a good used car, you may need to part with as much as $27,500 or more. On the other hand, new cars can cost a whopping $47,000. Therefore, it helps to think outside the box concerning vehicle acquisitions. Consider impound auctions as a source of affordable yet good-quality cars.
Read More: Used Car Buyer's Checklist
Impound Auctions: An Introduction
A car can be impounded and towed to an impound lot for various reasons. For starters, law enforcement officials or private tow companies may impound a car when someone commits crimes and ends up getting arrested. Also, a vehicle may be impounded if it is a danger to the public. In addition, if the car is a crime scene, it may be impounded.
It is incorrect to assume the police impound cars for sale. They usually do so to allow investigations to continue, until the vehicle owner comes for the car and so it can be recycled.
However, most vehicles stay in impound lots during which they attract storage fees that must be paid off. So, it is up to the vehicle owners to get a release order and pay the necessary fees to obtain their cars. If they fail to do so, other people may end up buying the cars from impound lots during impound auctions. That is where you benefit.
Impound Auctions: What to Do
Below are tips you should implement when buying cars from impound lots.
Determine your vehicle needs right from the start. That would enable you to narrow down your search in terms of the make and model that would work best for your needs
Set up a budget. The Kelley Blue Book is an excellent platform for car buyers looking to investigate the price of both used and new cars. In addition, it enables you to find out whether there have been recalls concerning some vehicle models and makes. You can use the prices available on the platform to set a reasonable budget for the kind of car you want. And then, arrange for financing if you don’t have the cash available.
Inquire about the impound auctions in your locale. You can search for the information online or ask your local police department about the event. Also ask other police agencies at various government levels, such as municipal or state levels. In addition, you can search impounded car auctions through local listings in your newspaper or other local publications.
Take note of when the auctions take place, plus where and how they will be carried out. Some auctions may be done monthly while others may be done annually. Also, some may take place offline while others take place online. You should note down the minimum bid price. Ask about the payment procedures too – some auctions may prefer cash bidders.
Request for the vehicle inventory so you know what is available. Using sites like AutoCheck, Carfax and Bumper, obtain the vehicle history reports. You will then learn about the titles and liens associated with the cars. A VIN is particularly helpful in the vehicle research process.
If it is allowed, consider visiting the impound lot with a professional mechanic who will inspect the cars you desire. Alternatively, arrive early on the auction day and inspect the vehicles to determine their condition. Remember, the inspection option may be unavailable for online auctions.
Prior to the auction day, arrange for transportation for the vehicle you intend to buy because you may be required to leave with it and its condition may be unknown.
Ensure you register early for your bidding number. Otherwise, you cannot bid without it.
Follow the procedure for the impound auctions and bid the highest price for the car you want, to the maximum you can afford. But so long as the winning bid is less than the fair market value of the car, you will likely get an excellent deal. However, you need to factor in the repair costs as you bid to avoid overshooting your budget. And watch out for late bidders.
Pay for the vehicle according to the agreed-upon terms and collect it on time. And follow the instructions given for obtaining the car’s title legally.
Buying impounded cars come with high risks because many of them may have been in storage for a long time and may have mechanical issues. But if you do your homework and luck is in your favor, you could get high-quality second-hand vehicles for a fraction of their fair market price. So, it helps to consider impound auctions as a viable source of used vehicles.
Read More: How to Negotiate for a Used Car With a Private Party
- Statista: Number of vehicles per household in the United States from 2001 to 2017
- The Drive: Average Used Car Price Crosses $27,500
- KBB: Average New Car Price Tops $47,000 - Kelley Blue Book
- LegalMatch: Impounded Car Lawyer: When Can Police Impound a Car?
- HR.Org: Impounded Vehicles Explained
- AutoTrends.Org: Impound Lot Deals…Or Are They?
- KBB: Kelley Knows Cars
- Your Mechanic: How to Buy and Sell Police Auction Cars
- Get Jerry: Buying a Police-Impounded Car, Explained
- Bid Export: How To Buy Impounded Cars for Sale
- Many websites display sales listings for impounded cars from law enforcement agencies across the country. Although this increases the number of available listings to browse, you'll have little to no chance of seeing the car before the sale. Some sites require a membership fee to access impound sales databases.
I hold a BS in Computer Science and have been a freelance writer since 2011. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, watching cooking and lifestyle shows, and fantasizing about world travels.