tow company hauling a car

A tow company auction allows the public to bid on abandoned and seized cars and trucks. It’s a chance to see a range of vehicles, from everyday sedans to luxury cars. Venturing into a tow lot auction can be a thrilling experience, but there are some precautions that we recommend everyone to take.

For those curious, the reward can be low priced used cars. You can buy cars from impound lots often at a fraction of their market value. We want to help you understand how tow company auctions work and how to bid on tow cars.

These types of car auctions are recommended for those experienced with auto auctions in the past. If you are a first-time auction bidder, we suggest buying a car at a public wholesale used car auction instead. Tow auctions are better suited for those with auto mechanical experience and the resources to make necessary repairs.

impounded cars for sale at tow company auctions - a white car is loaded onto a tow truck

How to Buy Impounded Cars for Sale at a Tow Company Auction

Tow company auctions work a bit differently than traditional car auctions. They are often held online these days, but there are still plenty that do live in-person bidding. Auctions at tow companies move at a faster pace and expect bidders to show up already having some familiarity with the process.

We know this can be intimidating for some new bidders. Buying impounded cars for sale online or in a live auction both require that you learn as much as you can before bidding.

Our Tow Lot Auction Suggestions & Tips: Buying Cars from Tow Yards

Looking Over the Auction Vehicles: Start by researching upcoming tow car auctions in your area. Websites of local government agencies or tow companies often list upcoming auctions. Once you’ve found a tow lot auction, visit the lot before the auction day or arrive early on auction day.

Most auctions allow buyers to inspect the cars. Remember, these are impounded vehicles, so thorough inspection is crucial. I find this to be the most important step.

Bidding: Vehicles at tow company auctions are bid on using their assigned lot number. Be sure you know the lot number of the vehicle(s) you want to bid on.

Vehicles are sold to the highest bidder, and each sale is final once the highest bid is accepted. If there is a dispute about the highest bid between two or more bidders, the bidding process will begin again.

Payment and Paperwork: If you have the winning bid, you must pay with cash in full, including sales tax, as soon as the sale is final. In many cases, you may need to tow the auctioned vehicles from the yard as vehicle keys are not available.

After payment, you’ll receive the paperwork to transfer the vehicle’s title. Make sure to complete this to make the auction car yours.

Transport: You must remove the vehicle from the tow yard by a specified time on the day of the auction or you will be charged a storage fee. If you do not take the vehicle within a certain period after the auction date, it will be considered abandoned and will be removed.

Once you remove a vehicle from the tow yard, you cannot park it on the street or drive it unless the owner has proper registration and license plates.

Extra Tips: Purchasers are prohibited from buying back their own vehicle(s). Bidders must be prepared to pay for any vehicle they purchase as soon as they make the winning (highest) bid. Payments must be made in cash.

Anyone not prepared to pay immediately should not bid. Finance and the Sheriff make no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the year of any vehicle or any vehicle’s quality or state of repair.

tow company hauling a car

Where to Find Tow Company Auctions Near You

Police Auctions USA is a database of police car auctions, tow company auctions, and also bank repo auctions in the United States. Almost all are open to the public for bidding. Some municipalities and tow companies list their repossessed cars for sale online with prices and photos.

As always, it is important to read all the posted auction rules first to avoid any surprises. Refunds are very rare at police auctions and tow company auctions.

While there is some overlap depending on the auctioneer, you may wish to also learn about bank repo auctions. These auctions feature title pawn and finance company repossessed cars for sale.

Last updated on April 15th, 2024 at 04:00 pm

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