Car auctions are a weird and fantastic world, and in my two decades in that scene, I've seen some pretty astonishing things. The old adage that "your decisions in life dictate your future" really rings true at an auction. This business is all about split-second decisions; that can mean buying anything from a two-year-old Ferrari to a 20-year-old Buick. Whether you've just sprung for junk or pure gold, you're stuck with it. When I tell folks, "You just bought that car and whatever just fell off it," they laugh -- unless they're hearing me say it for the 200th time.
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.
But the competition at county auctions is brutal and it's only getting stronger. "Taxi companies want the old cruisers to use as cabs," Lang says. "And often there are government employees who are going after a vehicle that they used on the job and grew fond of. A lot of the school buses and trucks get bought by brokers looking to ship them overseas to poorer countries that will use them for public transportation. These are guys who go to government auctions all the time, know what to pay and know a lemon when they see it. You won't be the only bargain hunter out there."
Lots at police auctions range from brand new or graded from A down in used condition, or goods may be slightly marked. A good example would be high quality white goods. All items listed in any police auction are available for viewing and inspection prior to the sale. Faulty or damaged goods should be clearly marked, and faults are outlined by the auctioneer during the auction.
If you run into a problem, try to work it out directly with the buyer or seller or with the auction website. If that does not work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or visiting the FTC's website. Although the Commission cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations. You also may want to contact your state Attorney General or your local consumer protection office.
Musick Auction is a full service auction dedicated in providing the best auction experience. We are a market place where we bring the buyers and sellers together to shop and sell without leaving the comfort of their own home. We don’t limit our customers to only online; we provide an exceptional live auction in our 20,000 sq. foot state of the art facility. Musick Auction is the leader in our industry boasting over 40 years’ experience. We specialize in business liquidations, private estates, municipality assets, and commercial equipment. Our auctions average thousands of new and returning bidders each week. With our large exposure and vast bidder activity this ensures our performance well above market averages week after week.
Interest in these auctions has boomed as the economy stays stagnated and credit rules have tightened. Buyers who formerly could qualify for auto loans on new or solid used cars now find they need to shop with cash. But the United States is a country built around the automobile, and it's a lot easier to get a job if you have a car to drive to the interview, so for many people car auctions are a way to fill the need.
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The best bargains are usually on the older less-than-perfect vehicles that dealers don’t want to spend time and money on. Dealers go for the relatively late-model higher-priced vehicles. Since dealers want to make a profit by buying low and selling high, you might be able to pick up a good car by bidding slightly higher than a dealer is willing to pay. Or bid on older vehicles that dealers don’t want.
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Do your research. Check Kelly Blue Book for the proper price for the vehicle, including its mileage and apparent condition. Always downgrade the condition by one ranking for government auctions. Also, do some smart used-car research, such as checking Consumer Reports for reliability and the frequencies of particular repairs, and checking our road test information if it's a recent model vehicle.