You may have heard that government auto auctions are one of the best places to buy a car at an affordable price. If you are an experienced buyer who has attended government car auctions, you know what to do. However, if you are a novice and if it is your first time buying a car from an auction, you might want to steer clear of them.
That’s because a lot of sites that are claiming to be government car auctions are unreliable or just straight scams. Therefore, it is best to know more about government auctions and how they work before you decide to splurge on a car through them.
In this blog, we will provide you with a short explanation of what government auctions are and what things novice car buyers need to be aware of.
What are Government Auto Auctions?
Government auto auctions occur when government officials bust criminals, confiscate their belonging and then set those items for sale to make money for law enforcement. A lot of time, the military also has surplus car parts which can also be bought at government auctions. Law enforcement agencies also place their squad cars on the block once they are finished with them.
Since these items have not necessarily undergone any damage and they need to be sold, you will find a lot of hidden gems that are up for sale at government auctions.
However, novice car buyers need to be on the lookout for things that seem too good to be true.
Getting a Brand New Lexus for $50
Contrary to myths, you will not be able to buy a Lexus — or any other used or salvage car — at government auctions for just $50. These impossibly low prices are just not possible. Since many of these items are seized without costing the government anything, they may have some vehicles at very nice discount prices. However, the general rule of the thumb is that the auctioneer places a minimum but reasonably low price on the vehicle and if they don’t sell, they will be withdrawn from the auctions.
The starting bid on each car will vary and may rise depending on how many people bid on the vehicle. But there is a good chance you will get a nice used car for a competitive price — just not $50. So if you come expecting this, you will be disappointed.
Paying for Information on Government Car Auctions
Government car auctions happen all over the countries and local, state, and federal government offer information on them for free. This is a great time for unscrupulous opportunists to rope in novice buyers and attempt to sell them information about the auctions that is already available for free.
The scam often works like this. The person sees a flashy ad promoting the government car auction and calls the number in the ad. When they call a number, they are told they will be charged a fee for getting a list of car auctions and will ask for your credit card details. The fee can be $50 to $75, and in some cases these scammers will also throw in a few extra auction books for you. You will need to pay for those as well.
Some sites also charge you money to give you a list of cars on eBay. Most of these scammers also create fake contact information which is legally required for their website domain and hence buyers were unable to contact them. A few websites have legitimate contact numbers but give you very little info for a lot of money. None of them offer free trials either.
Each of these sites is a scam. To get a list of auction, you can head on to GovSales.gov or get the auction information directly from your local government office. These auctions occur in several different ways, online, on physical locations, or through phone calls.
Fake Government Auctions
Since government auctions happen frequently and are very popular, many scammers try to make their auctions seem like government auctions. These auctions usually do not have a permanent location and may be held at different sites every day.
If you chance upon an ad from these traveling auctions, just remember that it usually means that they themselves attended a government auction, bought a few items fro there and are now trying to resell them at a large markup. A lot of times, the items aren’t from government auctions at all.
Additionally, since these auctions do not have a single, permanent address, if you find something fishy with your item after buying it, where will you go to complain about it?
Government Auction Sells Cars “As Is, Where Is”
Although government options may be seem very attractive to novice buyers, they may want to avoid them if they have no experience. That’s because most government car auctions sell their vehicles on an “as is, where is” basis and do not allow inspections or test drives.
Although government auctions are open to public — unlike many other dealership auctions — the real purpose of these auctions is to get rid of the cars as soon as possible, making as much many as possible, in the process. This means buyers do not get to thoroughly inspect each vehicle — which also means they do not know if the car has a defect or malfunction.
As a result, most discerning buyers avoid these auctions.
How to Get the Best Car Deals from Government Auctions
Unfortunately, there is no easy magical way that can help you get the best deals from government auctions. All you can do is use your common sense and research the market. That way you will know the market price of the vehicle you are bidding on and you can determine whether the government auction is offering you a fair deal or not.
Although it may not be possible to get the car inspected, it is very important to get the vehicle history report that can protect you when you are buying a used or salvage car from an auction.
How Can I Tell If a Government Auction Is Actually a Scam
If you are novice and have difficulty knowing whether a government auction site is a fake or scam, there are a number of ways you can verify its legitimacy. You can call your local government or police office to find out if they are holding a car auction at a give date.
You can also try contacting the website, before you hand them over your money. Even if they have a working phone number, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a good website. However, not having one is a huge red flag and novice car buyers should stay away from such sites.
If you still want to reap the benefits of a government auction but do not have to deal with its risks and uncertainties, RideSafely.com can help you bid on a car from a government auction. We have a huge inventory of used and salvage cars and many of them are straight from government auctions. Many of these vehicles do not have any damage or a history of being involved in accidents. You can bid online through us and we will guarantee you will get the car of your dreams in no time.