The Best Police Car Auctions Online for 2022

When you’re in the market for a used car, police car auctions online and in-person can be a great place to find a deal. Police auctions typically sell seized cars and sometimes offer ex-police vehicles for sale. Since state or federal government agencies run them, you’re buying a legitimate car.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 22, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Police seize cars and other property for a variety of reasons, though most cars are impounded because the driver committed a serious traffic violation
  • When impounded cars aren’t claimed or paid for, they become state property and are sold in police auctions
  • You can participate in police auctions either online or in-person
  • Cars in police auctions are often sold for highly discounted prices, especially if only one person bids on them

Every year, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies claim thousands of items from various sources. Usually, police seize property because they believe it’s connected with a crime.

There are many reasons an owner might lose possession of their car. When a vehicle (or any other property) falls into police possession, they can legally sell it.

Police auctions are a great place to find a good deal on cars and anything else they sell. Cars found in a police auction have to meet state standards for safety, which means you can be confident you’re buying a working vehicle.

In fact, many cars from police auctions still have warranties. And, since these cars have passed safety inspections, your new vehicle won’t negatively affect your car insurance rates.

If you’re interested in finding police car auctions online, you can start with the resources below. Then, enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what insurance rates for your new car might look like for you.

What are police car auctions?

Every year, police seize thousands of cars and store them in impound lots. Most commonly, police take cars after drivers have committed severe traffic offenses, such as:

  • Reckless driving
  • Evading police
  • Driving an unregistered car
  • Driving without insurance
  • Organizing or participating in drag racing
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Driving without a license
  • The vehicle was involved in a crime
  • The car is a piece of evidence

Losing your car is just another reason to avoid committing a serious traffic violation. Not only can you lose your car, but you might also be arrested, you’ll face fees, and your insurance might classify you as a high-risk driver, meaning you’ll pay more for coverage.

The driver has to pay a fee to get an impounded car back. If the owner never pays to remove their vehicle from the impound lot, it will go to auction. Police sell cars from impound lots to help finance their departments and clear out their lots.

When you purchase a car (or anything else) from an auction, it’s legally yours. The previous owner has no right to it, even if they want it back.

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How do I find a police car auctions near me?

There are two ways to participate in police auctions: in-person or online. Each type has pros and cons, but you can find great deals on cars at both.

In-person police auctions usually take an entire day, but you have the advantage of inspecting cars for sale before buying them. While you won’t be able to take them for a test drive, you can examine them for physical damage, loose wires, rust, and the cleanliness of the interior.

If you’re wondering, “Where are police vehicles for sale near me?” you can check with your local police department. Some have information about their next auction online, while others require a phone call.

Online Police Auctions

Online auctions are much more accessible, and you can bid from the comfort of your couch. Make sure you watch your bid as the time runs out, so you don’t lose it to last-minute bidders.

If you win an auction, you’ll need to complete some paperwork, secure payment, and pick up your car. Some police auctions offer delivery, but you’ll be charged extra for that.

The downside to online auctions is that you can’t physically inspect the car before buying it. Auction cars are sold as-is, so you’ll potentially have repairs to handle after you buy them.

Visit your local county, city, or police department website to find a schedule for upcoming auctions in 2022.

Third-Party Online Police Auctions

While most police auctions are run by the departments, you can find online auctions sites that combine inventory from across the country.

These third-party sites either buy inventory directly from the police or agree to host the auction for a fee. Third-party sites can be valuable tools for police departments because it frees them from having to run the auction. Police also gain a much broader customer base.

Consider the following sites if you’re interested in cross-country auctions:

  • GovDeals
  • PropertyRoom
  • PublicSurplus
  • HiBid

Whether you buy from a third-party dealer or directly from the police, your car will be legally yours.

Can you sell a car you bought at a police auction?

When you buy a car from a police auction, it’s yours. You can do whatever you like with it, which includes selling it.

In fact, buying cars and other items from police auctions is how some people cushion their income. Not only can it help you make money, but it can also be a fun hobby.

When you want to sell a car you’ve bought at auction, you should start by checking its value. A reliable place to check value is through Kelley Blue Book, which offers detailed information about the value of any car.

Selling a car you bought at auction works the same way as selling any other vehicle. You can advertise it, answer potential buyers’ questions, maybe let them take it for a test drive, then transfer the title after they’ve paid for it.

Are there ex-police vehicles for sale?

Less interested in buying seized vehicles but still looking for a good deal? You might be wondering, “Where can I find old police cars for sale near me?” or “Where can I find used police vehicles for sale near me?”

The good news is that you can buy retired police cars at significantly reduced prices.

Police cars are retired after reaching either a specific age or number of miles. Departments sell old vehicles in good shape to the public to help fund the next generation of police cars.

Just like seized vehicles, you can find retired police car auctions. Since police officers need reliable, well-performing cars, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting a good vehicle. Retired police cars generally have higher safety ratings, and they’ve probably been maintained better than most used cars.

You don’t have to worry about anything left over in the back seat from when it was a work car, either. Police replace the back seat with a hard-wearing vinyl replacement. They put the original seat back in when the vehicle is ready to move on.

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Get the Best Insurance for Your New Car

Visiting an online auction site when you have money to spend can be thrilling, especially when you place the winning bid. You can find a great deal on a car at police auctions, which will help offset the cost of registration and any repairs it might need.

Police car auctions online are a great way to find an inexpensive vehicle. If you need insurance at a price to match that deal, enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what quotes might look like for you.


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