Are cars cheaper at police auctions?

There are countless online forums full of people raving about hilariously inexpensive cars at police auctions. Even though that is often the case, police auctions are not exactly the best place to buy a car for the uninitialized because such cars can be extremely problematic and can sometimes seem way better than they are.

On the other hand, if you are a dealer or someone who knows a lot about cars, it might be the best place to buy a car. Most cars end up repossessed by the police for many different reasons, and the majority of those cars are returned to their owners, but the ones that aren’t are usually auctioned out.

Police stations around the country can only hold a certain amount of cars which means that these auctions happen quite regularly. For example, the police repossess your car and you need to pay a hefty fine in order to get it back.

If you are not able to do so in due time, your car is likely to be auctioned out. As such, the police station is not interested or even able to make a large profit because the only thing they want is to sell the car fast and move on, and that’s the reason why so many cars at police auctions are as cheap as they are.

Benefits of police car auctions

Most people believe that cars sold at police auctions were involved in some sort of illegal activity surrounding drugs, violence, or unlawful car possession, but the truth is almost always different. The fact of the matter is that most cars sold at police auctions are there because someone was not able to pay a debt or a fine of some sort.

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Some people even abandon their cars, and after a while, the police repossesses those cars. This means that these cars are not as bad as most people think because most of these cars are owned by “regular” people, not drug dealers, gangsters, or thieves.

The police are not interested in waiting for the best offer out there, all they want is to sell the cars fast to free up the space and to recover at least a portion of the money. Cars need regular attendance, and the police are not interested in that which means that most of these cars are auctioned out without a reserve.

Another unassuming benefit of buying a car from a police auction is the authenticity because hardly anyone can dispute ownership of a car bought from the police. Some cars are better than others, but they are almost always better than the price you pay for them.

Drawbacks of police car auctions

Because car auctions are considered a great place to buy a car cheap, they are often swerving with a bunch of people wanting the same thing as you and that is to buy a car cheap. That means that you are bidding against numerous people and you can often leave a police auction empty-handed.

As such, the best thing you can do is consider multiple cars and hope you will be able to buy at least one of them. Furthermore, these auctions don’t let you do a test drive before you decide to bid on a car and they often don’t even let you inspect the car either.

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Considering that most cars that end up in police auctions were owned by people with no money, it also means that many of these cars are not exactly in tip-top shape. Previous owners were not keen on servicing and repairing those cars which makes it difficult to judge if the value is right or not.

Specifics of police auctions

The majority of cars auctioned by the police were unloved for a while which means that these cars often need a bunch of work before they are roadworthy. As mentioned previously, many cars here were even abandoned by their owners for various reasons, and undriven cars can often be a nightmare to keep running.

This often means you will have to arrange some sort of transportation for your car if it’s not in running condition. Besides doing so, you will often need a new battery or a set of jumper cables if the car is in some sort of running order.

Most of these auctions require you to take the car away the moment you pay for it, so it’s not a good idea to arrive unprepared. The best thing to do is to arrange everything beforehand, but this can also be an issue if you are not able to buy the car.

FAQ Section

Can everyone attend a police auction?

Everyone can attend a police auction including private individuals,  small traders, and dealership owners. However, sometimes you will have to register beforehand, and this can take up to a few days. Many of these auctions are limited, so be sure to register as fast as you can.

Most people who attend police auctions are there as regular bidders which means that securing a spot might be difficult for those who are not familiar with the process.

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What can you buy at police auctions?

Police auctions are not only limited to cars, you can also more expensive items such as boats or even airplanes. Watches, memorabilia, and many other valuable items can all be found at a police auction. Besides these, you can also find intellectual property, business stakes, and all sorts of valuable documents and papers.

However, be aware that most of these are also populated by regular bidders which means that it’s sometimes hard to take part if the auctions are limited by the number of attendants.

Are police auctions carried out live or online?

Given the fact that we live in a pandemic, it’s not safe to take part in live car auctions. As such, most of these are transferred online which comes with several benefits and drawbacks. Firstly, more people can attend an online auction, and it’s way more convenient as you can bid on a car miles away.

On the other hand, looking at a car through a small screen is not the best idea as far as cars are concerned as you are not able to inspect the car thoroughly. Even though most of these do come with a lot of high-quality photographs, they are still not enough in most instances.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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