Government Auto Auctions: Drive Away With a Steal of a Deal

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Savvy bargain hunters find huge bargains at government auto auctions. Thousands of cars, trucks, and SUVs are currently available on the internet and at various auction locations thoughout the U.S. and Canada.

On October 26, 2005 in Del Rio, Texas a government seized 2000 Mitsubishi Galant was sold at a government auto auction for $900. A 2001 Ford E-350 van was sold at a government auto auction for $1,800 on October 8, 2005 in Laredo, TX. A bidder at a government auto auction in Nogales, Arizona picked up a 2005 Chevy Astro with less than 21,000 miles for $4,000 on November 10, 2005.

Any member of the public who is a licensed driver and at least 18 years of age is eligible to bid at government auto auctions. Registration is free. Government seized and surplus autos and other vehicles are sold by internet auctions, live auctions, sealed bid auctions, negotiated price, fixed price and drop-by sales.

Here are some auction tips:

1. Find a Government Auto Auction Near You - Government auto auctions are held all over the U.S. and Canada. Information about the auction locations, dates, times, and participation instructions can be found at

2. Register to Bid - It is advised that you register to bid at the auction location prior to the auction.

3. Inspect Your Vehicles - Attend auction previews. Previews are your chance to inspect the cars and other vehicles.

4. Review the Auto Auction Catalog - The auction house will distribute a catalog of available vehicles on the day of the Auction and preceding Inspection Day

5. Calculate Your Target Price - You may want to calculate the anticipated price for your vehicle through the use of readily available pricing guides such as NADA or Kelly Blue Book Used Car Guides.

6. Determine Your Method of Payment - Accepted forms of payment may include cash, credit card (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Discover), cashier's check.

7. Attend the Mock Auction - The auction house may conduct a brief mock auction prior to the actual sale. If you are new to used vehicle auctions, attend this mock auction to familiarize yourself with the process.

Many states and federal government agencies sell surplus and seized cars, trucks, and SUVs at government auto auctions. Each year approximately 300 government auto auctions are conducted throughout the United States and Puerto Rico to auction property seized as a result of violations of federal law enforced by the Department of the Treasury. Under authority of the Internal Revenue Code, automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, and boats that have been seized or acquired for nonpayment of internal revenue taxes are sold at public auction.

The U.S. Government General Services Administration will auction approximately 35,000 surplus cars and trucks this coming year. GSA Fleet auctions surplus cars, trucks and other vehicles with low mileage and only one previous owner. The public can acquire well maintained Federal government vehicles at significant savings. These vehicles have been well maintained. Vehicles are carefully detailed before auction and come loaded with most options consumers typically prefer.

The U.S. Marshals Service offers cars and other vehicles for auction to the public which have been seized by federal law enforcement agencies. More than 14,000 items of seized cars and property are sold annually with gross sales of $200 million. Revenues are used for law enforcement activities and for restitution to victims of fraud.

Government auto auctions are quite different from traditional used car sales. If you know how to bid to buy, you could drive away with a steal of a deal. For more information on government auto auctions visit

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Eliot Hobbs
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