Driver's Guide

How to Buy a Car from Police Impound

Howdy, Driver? I am sharing how to buy a car from police impound because I won a bid for an impounded vehicle recently.

how to buy a car from police impound

Buying a car from a police impound is a good idea, plus it comes at a great price deal. However, you would want to be careful not to purchase an unworthy piece of metal for a car.

Police auctions are legit and you should buy from their auction. You will also need some more money to clear any bad record behind the vehicle and clean it up with a mechanic.

Why police impounded car makes a great deal is that it is less expensive than a new or fairly used car. And if it turns out that you can’t pay for the car, you can request extended time to make the payment or cancel the bid.

In this article, I will teach you how I buy a car from police impound at a great bargain. The sections below disclose how to buy a car from police impound.

How to Buy a Car from Police Impound

There are two ways to buy a car from impound. You can either buy a car from an impound lot through live auction or online auction.

Below are the ways to buy a car from police auction:

Live Auction

Honestly, a live auction is the best way to buy a car from the police impound. And you will enjoy the opportunity to inspect the vehicle before making your bids.

The police host live vehicle auctions, and some police departments notify the public on their website. To have up-to-date information regarding when the police will host a live autos auction, endeavor to keep tabs with your local police.

I usually receive my information directly by calling the nearest police department or nearby town police. And it is an added advantage if you have an insider friend in the police.

When you find out about a scheduled live auto auction, set a reminder on your phone or anything you keep a date with.

Also, arrive early at the auction and take time to examine the vehicle to ascertain your bid and get your bidding number.

The police often times have several vehicles up for auction sales, and you will likely settle for the best. Other sane drivers will equally attempt to outbid for that particular vehicle, which seems the best. When the bidding commences, endeavor to hold up your number for the auctioneer. If possible, secure a seat at a more visible spot.

It is likely that another bidder will outbid you, but you are free to hold up your number and increase your bid.

Note: Do not begin a bid with a large amount of money.

When outbid others eventually, you become the winner and, of course, the new owner of the car.

Online Auction

Another option, regarding how to buy a car from police impound, is the online auction. The first time I tried bidding online, I realized it is tougher to win a bid online. Sometimes, the lot can employ a fake bidder to inflate the cost of the vehicle.

The sole advantage of an online auction is that you will be given a detailed description of the vehicle. You will find photos of the vehicle captured from various angles, and you are free to question the auctioneer before bidding on the car.

You also require a form of payment, which may be a credit card or a bank transfer to make payment after winning the bid.

Steps to Bid Online

Let’s see how you can bid for a car online. Before then, I recommend reading the steps to win a vehicle auction online. Below are the steps to bid for a car auction online:

Register with the Auction Site

One thing I prefer about bidding for auction car online is that you can bid for a car in another country. Simply, register with an auction site and keep tabs with the scheduled auctions for police impounded vehicles.

You should also call the police to inquire about information regarding the impounded cars to be auctioned and the auction date.

Stage Your Bid

If you have, for instance, $2,000 to bid for the police impounded car, start your bid from a few hundred dollars. When others outbid you, increase your bid by adding the dollar amount. No matter how desperate you are for the car, do not outbid your pocket. Besides, you could be bidding for a vehicle that will cost hundreds to a thousand dollars to repair.

Make Payments

After you win the bid to buy a car from impound online, make payments using any of the payment methods. I do not think that it is possible to request to pay later after winning a bid online. So, if you do not have enough cash to settle for your bid, you could lose the car to another bidder.

Pick Up the Car

If you reside in another country, you can pay for the recovery of the car from impound, and shipping. Of course, the vehicle will be delivered to your country. And if possible, you may visit the impound lot to inspect the car personally and pay for towing.

Meanwhile, you should have a look at these small cars that can tow up to 3,500 lbs.

Guide to Buying a Car at Auction from the Police

In this section, I will guide you on how to buy a car from impound from the police. I also include tips for getting the car for a great bargain.

is buying a car at police auction a good idea

Below is a guide to buying a car at auction from the police impound:

Find Less Crowded Auctions

I prefer the less crowded vehicle auctions in unpopular areas. You will have a few people to bid against and your chance of winning the bid is high. What I dislike about crowded auctions is that the competition is typically high and it inflates the cost of the police impounded car. The trick is to find vehicle auctions is rural or outskirt which could be making inquiries away from your resident.

Research on the Vehicle in the Listings

Some auctions provide a listing of the police impounded vehicles available for auction prior to the auction date. Go through the listing and select at least two of the cars you would love to buy.

I recommend picking at least two cars because, in events where you miss out on one, you could win the bid for the other.

After selecting the vehicle to bid on, research on the car. During the research, focus on the actual market value and the problems of the car. It will help you determine the highest amount you can comfortably bid for the vehicle.

Prepare Some Cash

When you select the car(s) to bid on, decide on the highest amount to pay to save the problems of outbidding your pocket on the day of the auction. Now, you need some money or proof of loan if you are at a live auction.

Your money should be enough to cover for tax, registration, and title of the car. You also need insurance, though you can drive home without insurance (not advisable) because cars from police impound arrive without warranty. Include the cost of cutting a new key for the car in your budget because the car could be sold without a key.

In this guide to buying a car at auction, another significant cost is the cost of towing. Prepare money for towing, unless you will visit the impound lot to drive the car home. But if you bid online, you will pay for the car to be towed.

Take Some Mechanical Tools Along

When you arrive at the auction, you can inspect the vehicle with some mechanical tools such as engine oil, air pressure, car battery, etc. Note that the impound lot will not allow you to test drive the car; otherwise, every potential bidder would want a feel of the car before bidding.

Attend the Police Impound Auction

Upon arriving at the auction, register for your bidding number. If it is an online auction, sign up on the auction website and wait for the bid to begin.

Inspect the Vehicle

Like I mentioned earlier, it is advisable to carry some mechanical tools along to the auction unless it is an online auction. Expect a filthy smell when you open the car and do not mind whether the seats are torn or not. Of course, you will clean up the car after winning the bid.

Inspect the Hood and Undercarriage of the Vehicle

When I arrived at the auction, I had two cars in mind earlier. However, I gave up on one after inspecting the hood and the undercarriage. For me, your primary focus should be on what lies beneath the hood of the car and the undercarriage. It could be that the engine is in a terrible condition, an overly rusty undercarriage, etc. Of course, the rule of thumb never bid for a car that is beyond repairs.

Bid What You Can Afford

Sometimes, people get caught up, and they bid more than their bargain. You could tell it from the questioning looks on faces that they overpriced the impounded car. To avoid becoming a victim, predetermine the highest amount you can afford for the car.

Start with a low-priced bid and wait until everyone outbids you. In my case, I bid below other people, which attracted laughter, but towards the end, I raised my bid and won. Keep in mind that the price of the impounded vehicle inflates during bidding and you do not want to buy the car at an overly inflated price.

Take the Car Home

Depending on the conditions of the car, you could either drive or tow the car home. If it is an online auction, you will pay to tow that car to the desired location. But if the car has no license plate or registrations, you cannot drive the car. Meanwhile, you can pay to park the car for maintenance in some auctions.

Get a Key Cut

Regarding how to buy a car from an impound lot, you will always find a locksmith at the auction site. So, if there is no key for the car, you need a key cut to drive the car. If you cannot sight a locksmith, ask around at the police impound for the nearest locksmith services.

Let a Mechanic Run Full Inspection

Regarding how to buy a car from police impound, before you put the car you on the road, let a mechanic inspect for problems. I do not even recommend that you drive a car you buy from the police impound immediately.

What if the brakes are malfunctioning? Think about other parts of the vehicle that are malfunctioning too. Besides, you require autos insurance to drive the car.

Auction Cost of Police Impounded Cars

People wonder whether police impounded car is legit considering that the price is cheap. The answer is that the police are after selling the car to cover for the debts of the previous owner and making space for newly impounded cars. So, it is needless for the police to sell the car at its proper market value.

And if the auction value is high, people will prefer to buy fairly used cars because they are unsure whether the auctioned car was involved in crime. It also takes time to clean up the car and properly make it legal for the road again.

Don’t Forget to Check Up the VIN

Before you bid for a car, check up the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on sites such as VINCheck.Info and CARFAX. If the car was involved in crime, you might want to reconsider bidding on it. Or, you will pay a professional to clean up the car to make it legal.

If the VIN shows that the car was involved in an accident, you have to spend on repairs before driving the car.

Meanwhile, while you arrive at the auction to bid and purchase a car, a group of crooks could be after the VIN. The plan is to switch the VIN with a stolen car to make it legal.


Is Buying a Car at Police Auction a Good Idea?

how to buy a car from an impound lot

Yes, buying a car at a police auction is a good idea and it is advisable to visit the impound with a mechanic to inspect the car. Some of the cars that the police put up for auction are in critical condition, and there is no warranty once you acquire the car.

Are Police Auctions Legit?

Vehicle auctions from the police are legit, however, you will clean up the car and register properly with the vehicle agency in your state to make it legal. Of course, you have to insure a car you buy from the impound because such a car could have been critically damaged.

Should I Buy Car from an Auction?

Unless an auction operates legally, you should buy a car from an auction.

Final Thought

It is fun buying a car from the police impound, especially when you land an excellent vehicle at a bargain. On the course of securing yourself a nice car for a cheap price, you would want to be careful not to buy what I would call “a waste of metal”.

Cars at the police impound are either critically faulty or fairly faulty. And unless a car ended in the impound after an accident, it will make a good buy. If after checking the VIN, you find that the vehicle was involved in a ghastly accident, reconsider bidding for the car, unless you are buying to use its parts.

Finally, do not be carried by the bids from other bidders. It is possible for the impound lot to place a false bidder whose duty is to inflate the cost of an impounded vehicle.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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