All About the Different Types of Auto Auctions

There are a number of different auto auctions that may be taking place in your area. Many of these are conducted by auction lots, who generally do mostly closed auctions, to which only authorized auto dealers are invited. It is sometimes possible to get complimentary passes to such closed auctions, but you will end up competing against a lot of experienced and knowledgeable auto dealers in the bidding. A better idea would be to get a dealer that you trust to bid on a car for you at one of these closed auctions. This way, it may take you longer to get a car--possibly several weeks--but you will be more certain that you get a good deal on a car and that it will be in a decent running condition at least.

There are also a number of public auto auctions that you will find locally. Some of the specialized auction lots hold public sales every now and then. There are also public auto auctions held by certified police garages, impounding lots, and towing services. These auctions typically involve vehicles that were impounded due to traffic violations or unpaid fines and never reclaimed by their owners. In large metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, public auctions for these confiscated cars may be held once a week. In any case, there is usually such an auction at least once in every month.

Another type of auction is a public government auction, which may be held by various US government agencies like the US Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA auctions are among the best places to find good quality vehicles, not only automobile sedans, but also SUVs, Hummers, motorcycles, trucks, buses, Jeeps, snowmobiles, boats, and even planes. Many of these vehicles are auctioned off as government surplus, or are remaindered as a result of turnover in inventory. The auction stock is also likely to include a number of government seized vehicles, including cars, boats and planes, that have been confiscated from tax evaders and more serious criminals.

Any public auction will have an inspection period, often taking place a day or two before the auction, although in some cases the inspection period is scheduled only hours before the start of the auction. If you are intending to buy a car at a public auction, you should attend the inspection period. You will not be allowed to test drive any vehicle, but you will at least be able to start its engine and hear it run. If you get the vehicle registration number, you can look up the vehicle history on and see if it possesses a clean title.

Thinking of buying a car from a public auto auction? You can find helpful information on getting good deals at