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State Surplus Auctions for Autos worth giving it a try?

We’re thinking about possibly purchasing a car for our son (who is a teenager - newly minted driver) but don’t want to spend a lot of money. We found a state surplus auction site. Would it be worth taking a risk on one of the more reliable brands (Toyota Prius, or Honda CIvic, is what I’m thinking). We can’t bid on multiple auctions because the ones we are looking at all end on the same day and we don’t want to end up having more than 1 car (LOL)! but most likely won’t get any.

Sounds like a small pain to go and get the car (some fees associated with it, have to obtain a temporary plate, etc.), but if we get it at a good price…

(cannot test drive it, but can go see it and make sure it runs before - start the car that’s about it).

Does anyone have an opinion on this? Or have done it? Successes? Failures? Thoughts?

I’m flagging you for spam because of the link. You may not be advertising, but many spammers do it just as you did. Remove the link and I’ll remover the flag.

Not spam. I am for real. I removed the site reference. I really want to know if it is worth trying for a state auction for cars for my son…

I removed the link. I’m for real. I really want to know the answer to the question… I didn’t know I was not supposed to put in links.

Ok, thanks. I tried removing my flag, but couldn’t figure out how to do that.

As for the auction, if you can’t see and inspect the car, it would seem to be high risk to me.

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It’s gambling. It’s not as bad as playing the lottery because you will bring home something for your money if you get the car, but you’re gambling that there aren’t a lot of problems that won’t manifest just from starting the car.

For instance, if the transmission is shot, you won’t know it without driving it.

I agree, this is very risky. Do you really want to put your kid into a totally unknown car?

The car may be a “good deal” in terms of price… but if it needs a new transmission, you’ve really not saved anything.

I’d pass on this myself. Or, at the very least, I’d be willing and able to fork over several thousand dollars more for repairs if need be.

Good luck.


I’ve never been to a vehicle auction. I looked at the site before it was removed. They did look like legit fleet vehicles and seized. I hear about people getting good deals at these things. Looks like you can start the car and visually inspect it but can’t drive it at all. Might be worth the gamble if the price is right. I wouldn’t mind one of the crown vics on the cheap.

I just think it is too risky for a teenage driver . The repairs could easily wipe out any savings that you might get from this auction.

I guess the best answer for your question is are you a gambling man? You can’t have a prepurchase inspection done by your mechanic and you can start the car to make sure it starts. Are you mechanically inclined at all? If you are, then I would imagine that you could get a potentially great deal on a car, but keep in mind a few things. These auctioned cars will likely have an unknown maintenance history, they could be government cars being auctioned out for new ones (likely had maintenance done), or they could also be repossessed cars (which likely had little to no maintenance done on them). I would avoid any retired police cars like the plague, even if the car wasn’t going to a teenager. While looking at Toyotas and Hondas do set you up better for success, when buying a used car, the maintenance history is as important if not more than the brand name.

So again, I ask, are you a gambling kind of person?

And if there are police seizure cars in the auction and you win one, go over it with a fine toothed comb. You do not want your kid to get pulled over and have a dog find drugs that the cops missed the first time around.


“But being that this is a used car, the most risky car in the world, and would blow your wallet clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk? I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he change the oil six times or only once’?”:smile:


Not knowing the site but just in general, the answer is the same: yes and no. It just depends on the car. What it was used for, how long, the maintenance history, and so on. Fleet managers are not stupid and they buy cars for the eventual sale, to bring the highest dollar. You may or may not get a good price at an auction. Cars like patrol cars could have spent most of their life on the highway and taken good care of by the assigned driver. Other cars might have been daily pool cars with frequent short trips and less maintenance. So it would be a plus to know the history a little, then if its a good price (I wouldn’t expect more than a 10-20% discount though), you have a little margin for any needed repairs. I would rather deal direct with a public auction though, rather than a 3rd party if that’s what this is.

If it is low mileage, it was likely siezed by the police. I’d be skeptical of those. If high mileage, it is likely from the motor pool or a car assigned to a government official. Those were maintained by the motor pool, and should be a known quantity. I would expect the government to disclose any problems with the government cars at auction.

I had a boss that only bought his cars at auction. He went to a large auto auction house. The vehicles that were deemed unsafe were on the dealer-only aisle. The ones that could get registered as is were on the aisle for all buyers. He did very well under circumstances like yours and continued this practice for over 20 years. He probably still does it.

It may be worth a chance, make sure you take it to a mechanic for pre-inspection if possible. Our state has an auction sale surplus site, our local government agencies have even sold stuff on there, from the experience based on the vehicles sold, I would not buy one listed, that sold. I have found some good used car dealers that will repair anything bad, let you know what they did and give you a 3 month warranty, Used cars are always a risky business, what $ range are you looking at?

These will be identified as such and are generally auctioned at a different auction, but I too would avoid these. I would, however, feel comfortable bidding on a state surplus vehicle. When I worked for the state we turned in lots of perfectly good stuff including vehicles. The thing about capital budgets in the state is “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” We’d plan to make capital expenditures whether we needed them or not just to keep the appropriation there in the next biennium budget. I don’t agree with the system, but it is what it is and the smart ones work within it.

The key here is that they are looking for a teenage driver . Now I might use a web site for myself but never for a new driver who might not notice a problem in it’s early stages.

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I thought the subject was buying a car at a state surplus auction.

Right, “for our son (who is a teenager - newly minted driver)”

My OPINION for a car only live auctions in person… I don’t know if they still do it or not, but the GAO use to do live auction. One city here, Rockledge FL, the city holds their own auction, another city uses an auction house.
Cars I have seen at these auctions require many dollars to be made road worthy.