Vehicles that have been seized by law enforcement are oftentimes made available for public sale. These cars are routinely involved in drug busts and as part of the sting, the government can take these vehicles away from their owners and resell them to the public. Cars are also seized by collectors when their owners fail to keep up with payment. For whatever reason these vehicles were taken away, they’ll soon become available to buyers including people just like you.
Let’s take a look at places where seized cars become available for public sale:
Auction houses — Seized cars are quickly brought to auction and sold off. You can find where these auctions are located by entering the term “car auction” into your search bar and retrieve local results. Some auctions are only open to registered dealers, while others are open to the general public. Narrow your list by eliminating auctions that are restricted.
Visit car dealers — Sometimes dealers have cars repossessed and sell these vehicles directly on their lots, foregoing the services and mark-ups of the auctioneers. Contact your local car dealers to learn if any models in their possession are repos.
Check with financial institutions — Banks take back vehicles all of the time and some never make it to the auction block. Inquire with your banker how repos are handled. Your bank may have a central collection point for these cars and may be open to you making a bid before sending these vehicles to auction.
Examine seized cars carefully — In many cases, the cars that have been seized are sold “as is.” This is where much caution must be exercised — if the owner was behind on payments, there is a good chance that the car has not been maintained properly. If you’re not particularly knowledgeable about cars, then hire a mechanic to inspect it for you. Visually, the car may look fine. It is what takes place under the hood and between the wheels that may escape your notice.
Make an offer — If a car passes your inspection, then make an offer. You can check with online buying sources such as NADAGuides and Kelley Blue Book to determine whether you’re receiving a bargain or not. You should be able to offer less than book value and come away with a car that offers a good deal.
When buying at auction, you may be able to get a warranty and in some cases the manufacturer’s warranty may still be in effect. Be prepared to negotiate price — having cash on hand can work to your advantage.