You don’t have to be a seasoned buyer or bidder to get your hands on a police impounded car. A lot of people with little or no experience actually come out of the police auction lot with a nice, road-worthy car that set them back for a few hundred dollars. Police impound cars are not necessarily old, rusty heaps. If you look hard enough, you’ll find one that may just be what you’re looking for.
How to get started
First, find out where the auction will be held and when. Local police agencies advertise their used or impound car auctions through newspapers and websites. You might also try calling your local police department for information.
Arm yourself with enough information. You can’t really know what kind of units you’ll be faced with until you get there or if you’re bidding online, you might not get up close and personal with the impounded cars to judge their value, so better get yourself a price guide for used cars like the Kelley blue book. This way you can check the car’s trade-in value so you don’t overbid.
Remember that you won’t be the only one bidding for the impounded cars. There are others like you, and then there are the pros, who can smell a good buy just by looking at it. These people know that some really great deals can be had with police impounded cars and they are there to take a slice of the pie.
If you know about cars, then you may be confident enough to go at it by your lonesome, but if you don’t, best bring someone with you who can help you look under the hood and separate the lemon from the pears, so to speak.
Subscribe to CarFax and bring your laptop or PDA with you so you can check the car’s history. This is not a requisite, but it’s a good idea to help you verify the impounded car’s background.
At the auction
It would be better if you could participate in a live auction yourself because you could actually see and inspect the cars yourself. Since inspection will take time, better arrive early so you’ll have time to look at the cars and make your choice. Auction lots usually open early, but bidding starts a few hours after.
After you pay the nominal registration fee, get your bidder number. You can’t bid if you don’t have one. If you intend to drive the car home in case you win the bid, then bring your driver’s license, proof of insurance and get a temporary permit. These permits vary depending on your locality, so best check beforehand.
Find out what the auction rules are. If you’re familiar with auction lingo, so much the better. Some police impounded cars can be had for no reserve price, which means you can bid at a very low price.
Don’t be shy about inspecting the cars or if someone’s available, asking questions. You will not be allowed to start the car, much less test-drive it. It’s your money, so you better be sure you get its worth. Look for scratches, dents and evidence of repairs and flooding. Check the lights, mileage, oils, tires, bumpers and windows. You’re buying an ‘as is, where is’ police impounded car and if by any chance you get junk, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Get the impounded car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and run it through CarFax. You’ll get some very useful information about its history, including its ownership and any accidents it may have been involved in. This information is a high deciding factor on your part. Sometimes you might be eyeing a nice, seemingly good condition car but a run through CarFax will show that it’s been in an accident and that it just got repaired and polished up for auction to look acceptable.
Once bidding starts, be aware of the figures and how much you’re actually willing to pay for. Sometimes, in the heat of the bidding exchange, you could get carried away and pay so much more than the car’s market value. Remember that the purpose you came to a police impounded car auction is to get a car at dollars less than its market value.
After you win the bid, don’t forget about the buyer’s premium which can go from 5 to 15% of the bidding price. A police impounded car you won at a $900 bid will cost you $990 on a 10% buyer’s premium. Plus, you don’t get any warranty on the car.
Police impounded cars could be a great source of good to excellent condition used cars, but only if you go in as an informed buyer. Know the risks involved and get as much information as you can.
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Source by Albert Lee