You have heard that anyone off the street can attend a police auction, and you’d be right. In going to a police auction, you can bid on cars at hilariously low prices. While that sounds like a great deal, some people wonder if they can get an actual deal going to one of these police car auctions because you can also buy a lot of junk.
The Key to a Deal
The key to a good deal comes down to following a few essential principles. Also, you should understand that you can get a horrible deal if you don’t take the right actions to prevent it from happening. For example, when you visit the police auction, you should understand precisely how much you plan to spend before you ever step foot on the lot. This prevents you from overspending on a junker.
The Types of People Who Go to Police Auctions
You have a couple of different types of people who go to the police auctions. The two key types of people who go to these auctions include junkyard owners who want the cars for spare parts. You also have the car-flip artists who want a great deal that they can turn around into a brilliant vehicle and resell it.
What Does the Environment Look Like?
At a police auction, the environment involves a lot of people who take bids from their cell phone from afar. You also have some of the more professional bidders. If you want to bid on anything, it’s important that you sign some paperwork to acquire a bidder card. Without this card, you won’t be able to bid on anything.
How to Get a Great Deal at a Police Auction
One of the problems with police auctions is that you can face off against some of the professional bidders who understand precisely what the cars are worth. This can make getting a great deal at the auction a little more difficult because these professionals have trained for it, and they know when a car is worth the extra and when it isn’t.
How can you get around these professionals who jack the price up at the auctions?
The best way to get a better deal is through going to some of the lesser-known police auctions. You might see one that sits in an obscure location where people will be less likely to show up. In these cases, you’ll have fewer people to bid against, and this increases your chances of going home with a better deal.
Buying Happens As-Is
When you go to buy a car at a police auction, you must always understand that you have chosen to buy this car in the condition of, “as-is.” This means that if you do encounter problems with the vehicle, you will have to take responsibility for the repairs. For some people, that can be a dealbreaker, and this isn’t a choice for everyone. You could also ask if you could take the car for a test drive to see if you like it. While most police auctions won’t let you do this, in some cases, it may be worth asking.
Are you considering the purchase of an old police cruiser? It’s not that you shouldn’t buy one of these cars if you can get a great deal on it. However, in addition to the odometer, you should also check the hour meter. Many times when police sit idle near the speed traps, they leave the engine running. Over time, this adds up. That’s why it could be useful for you to look at the hour meter as well as the odometer because this will give you the full picture.
All police cars have one, and if they don’t, this suggests they want to hide something about the vehicle.
Show up Early, Bid Late
When you first show up, try to get there early. This gives you the chance to scope out the different cars so that you can pick up a better deal. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t bid on the cars too early. One of the issues with this comes from the fact that you might encounter a better-looking car at a later point. Another aspect that you should always be wary of is to enter into a bidding war.
The people that you find at the dealership could be of the professional type. They come to the police auction with the intention of buying a car so that they can sell it later for a greater value. In some cases, however, you might get caught up in the hype and keep bidding past the point that it becomes profitable. With whatever vehicle that you bid on, always understand the car’s true value so that you know at what point it isn’t profitable to keep bidding.
Bring Your Cash
In some cases, it’s not a good idea to have a lot of cash on you, but at a police auction, you couldn’t be safer with all the cops around. You want to bring your cash because while financing works in some cases, it doesn’t always work. You might miss out on a great deal because you didn’t bring the money.
Also, even if you don’t have to pay in cash, you still have to store it somewhere while you wait for the financing, and this can cost you money for the storing of the vehicle. After you have won a bid, you will be required to put a deposit down on the car at the least, and in some cases, you will have to pay for it outright.
Keep Yourself from Bidding Early
As the auctioneer starts with the bidding, you don’t want to make it obvious to the other bidders that you want this vehicle because they might suddenly take an interest in it as well. Wait until the auctioneer is about to put the hammer down to raise a bid on it. In this way, you have a much better chance of stealing a good bargain.
Another thing that you have to remember is to trust your gut instinct in all cases because you could be bidding against the pros. These are people who do this type of thing all day, every day. They can especially dance circles around the people who have no experience in this field. You have to learn to trust your gut instinct in these situations.
In most auctions, you will have professionals there. If you can manage to befriend one of these people, you can figure out how much work a car will take to fix it up.
Search the Listings in Advance
One of the ways that you can keep from wasting your time is to scope out the cars in advance. Check out what they might have on the selling block. Circle any of the cars that might grab your attention. You can print out a schedule of when each car comes up for auction as well. In this way, you can put bids on the cars that pique your interest the most. If they happen to post the VIN number, you also have the advantage that you can look at the VIN in advance. This will tell you the history of the vehicle, and it will let you know if the title gets branded as total loss or salvage. In this way, you don’t have to bid on a car only to find that it doesn’t work later.
Checking the Pricings
You have to exercise some level of caution when using sites like Kelley Blue Book. However, that’s not to say that you can’t get value out of the site because it tells you how much a car is specifically worth. You can check the vehicle values from each site to learn what each one will be worth. Mark this down before you go to make your bids. This can serve as a reference point for what you should bid on the vehicle.
Don’t Bid Your Maximum
One of the mistakes that beginners make when they go to a police car auction is to start with their maximum bid right from the beginning. You want to begin with a lower bid, and you will slowly add up with this bid in slower increments. If you big the maximum right at the beginning, you risk overpaying for the car. However, when you bid in smaller increments, you keep the price as low as possible. Remember—there’s no shame in walking away empty handed. Some people mistake this as a bad thing. However, whenever you don’t exceed your maximum bid, you can consider yourself winning.
Having Some Knowledge of Cars Helps
If you don’t have an understanding of cars, taking someone along who does can mean the difference between getting a great deal and paying for something that you didn’t necessarily want. When you go to a police auction to buy a car, you should feel prepared to pay for any repairs that might come up on it.
Going to a police auction to buy a car can be a gamble, but if you know what you’re doing, you can walk away with incredible savings. However, you have to know when to walk away from bidding because you can also get the short end of the stick at these auctions. The people who do the best at the police auctions have made it their livelihood. They understand when a car will be good and when it will cost too much to repair it. You should never feel bad that you missed a deal in these cases.