It is easier than ever to take advantage of government auto auctions for cheap cars in St. Louis. Not only are there more auctions being held than ever before, but the quality is also improving. This makes it an ideal time to learn more about government auctions and preparing to take action. In order to get the best deals at any type of public auto auction it is important to have a basic understanding of the different types of auctions available and what to expect at each one.
There are currently two levels of government hosting auto auctions which are common sources of cheap used cars in St. Louis. They are GSA auctions, and city auctions. Within each level of government, there are multiple places the vehicles are sourced from. Understanding more about the source of each vehicle provides greater insight in regards to the typical selection and quality of cheap cars in St. Louis.
Federal Government Auto Auctions Held in St. Louis
There are two different types of auto auctions in St. Louis which are sponsored by the federal government. They are GSA auctions and asset forfeiture auctions (typically ran by the US Marshal’s Service).
- GSA Auctions
A majority of GSA auctions in Missouri are held closer to the Kansas City area, however some are also held in St. Louis. The GSA is a department which is involved in the resale of any item the government no longer uses. This includes fleet vehicles. In most cases, GSA auctions are comprised entirely of former fleet vehicles. Since the federal government attempts to purchase domestically manufactured products whenever possible, a majority of the vehicles will be domestic. While this does mean a more limited variety, it also means lower prices. Since each auction will have multiple cars which are all fairly similar, the competition is not as fierce because bidders can simply wait for the next similar car to be sold.
- Asset Forfeiture/Seizure Auctions
The federal government seizes vehicles for a variety of reasons. Many of the cars at asset forfeiture or seizure auctions were somehow related to criminal acts. In most cases, they were simply purchase with ill-gotten gains and seized once the criminal was charged with a crime. Not only does this provide an opportunity to find high quality used cars, but also an excellent selection. In terms of variety, asset forfeiture and seizure auctions should always be at the top of the list.
City Sponsored Auctions in St. Louis
St. Louis is an independent city, which means it is not part of any County. Instead of traditional County sponsored auctions, St. Louis only features the city sponsored auctions. There are two different types of city-based auctions which provide an excellent opportunity to find cheap, reliable cars.
- Fleet Vehicles
General city auctions primarily feature fleet vehicles. Similar to GSA auctions, the listings will likely have multiple vehicles with similar features. Again, this leads to less competition per vehicle because so many similar options are available. This provides the ideal opportunity to find cheap, reliable cars at auction in St. Louis. As an independent city, the fleet is significantly larger than most other cities because there is no outside support from the County.
- Police/Towing Auctions
The next type of auto auctions in St. Louis is police auctions and towing auctions. Unlike many cities, St. Louis has an independent towing division which removes vehicles that are illegally parked, abandoned, or are impeding the flow of traffic. Cars in St. Louis can be towed for a variety of reasons ranging from impounding stolen vehicles to illegally parking with major parking violations. Because of its unpredictability, these auctions typically feature a huge selection to choose from. This makes police auctions ideally suited for people looking for a specific vehicle, rather than those who are looking for a large number of similar vehicles.
What to Look For at Government Auctions
At all types of government auctions there are certain things to look for in a vehicle before bidding on it. The most important step actually takes place before the auction begins. Is important to always do a thorough background check on a vehicle’s history to ensure there is no significant damage which may be hidden from visible inspection. This knowledge allows savvy bidders to not only find cheap cars in St. Louis auto auctions, but also extremely reliable vehicles. This results in an extremely high-value purchase.
What to Avoid
There is a laundry list of vehicle characteristics which are warning signs that the vehicle may not be as solid as it appears. The most important thing to avoid is any vehicle which may have frame damage. This is most evident if the vehicle has been a major accident. A bent frame is extremely expensive to replace and there will always be better options available at the auction.
Results of Previous Government Auctions in St. Louis
It is difficult to imagine what is available at a government auction in St. Louis without seeing some previous results. Here’s a quick recap of a few great deals which were found at previous government auctions in the St. Louis area.
- 2005 Toyota Scion
At a recent auction, a 2005 Toyota scion on two-door hatchback sold for less than $2000. At the time of the auction, it had just over 113,000 miles and a book value of over $8400. The winning bidder saved over 75 percent off of the market value.
- 2003 Toyota Camry
At the same auction, there was also a 2003 Toyota Camry four-door sedan which was sold to the winning bidder for $1550. It had only 82,000 miles and a local market book value of $9750.
- 2005 Mercury Sable LS
A final example from another government auction in St. Louis is a 2005 Mercury Sable LS which sold for $3500. This four-door sedan had only 60,000 miles on it. Its local market value was $10,800. The winning bidder paid nearly 60 percent less than if they would make the same purchase from a used car dealership in the area.
It has been estimated that there will be more government auctions in the St. Louis area over the coming years to reduce a bloated fleet. This provides even greater opportunity to find cheap cars at government auctions in St. Louis. The key is knowing what type of auction it is because it will dramatically affect the listing and competition for any particular vehicle.