A Guide to Los Angeles Public Car Auctions

If you want to live or work in Los Angeles, it is essential that you have a car. Sure, there is public transportation, but unless you are going around downtown, it is just too slow and inconvenient for getting about the huge metropolis. Pretty much everybody in LA owns a car. That makes Los Angeles a great place to find public car auctions.

There are numerous public car auctions in Los Angeles, and it is fairly easy to find out about them. One of the best places to start is with the official police garages or OPGs. These are city garages that have official responsibility over the towing and holding of impounded cars in LA. Several hundred thousand vehicles are impounded by the LAPD every year. Of these, around two-thirds are redeemed by the owners, but the rest of the cars become city property and are divested through public car auctions. The OPGs hold these auctions, known officially as lien sale vehicle auctions, once a week. You may contact your nearest OPG to find out when the public auctions take place. The auctions help the city of Los Angeles to recoup unpaid fees while offering an opportunity to the public to bid on and purchase cars at low prices.

There are also a number of firms in Los Angeles and its outlying areas that hold public car auctions. A search for “auto auctions” on an online search engine turned up 26 firms around LA that hold regular auctions. A few of these firms specialize in certain types of vehicles. For example, Spectrum Auction Co. in North Hollywood and Palm Springs Exotic Car Auctions specialize in auctions of classic and luxury vehicles. Other firms hold auctions specifically for towed or repossessed cars.

Public car auctions are open to everyone, but it is important that you register beforehand. To register for a public auction, you need to provide proper personal identification. You may also need to pay some nominal registration fee. When you have registered, you will be assigned a bidding number, which must be presented to the auctioneer when you make a bid. Only people with bidding numbers are allowed to participate in the auction.

The cars at public auctions are sold “as is” and therefore a potential bidder must possess a “let the buyer beware” mindset. However, there is usually an inspection period prior to the auction, that make take place a day or two or even a few hours beforehand. You should take advantage of the inspection period to see what is being offered and get an idea of the vehicle’s quality.

Salvage Car Auctions

There are different types of auctions and certain types of cars up out there for bidding. However, have you heard or have you ever tried participating in salvage car auctions?

You don’t have to worry — you don’t have to take part in something violent. This is all clear and legal. Risky, maybe, but it is legal.

Salvaged Cars

If you’re wondering what ‘salvaged cars’ means, it actually means a lot of things. It could be any of the following:

• This car’s cost for repairs is higher than the value of the car itself.

• This car may have been lost, stolen or both; then, the car was recovered.

• This car may have been involved in collisions or other accidents.

• This car may have been damaged due to floods or other natural disasters.

• This may have been repossessed by a financial institution due to its previous owner’s failure to pay.

Some auctioneers are unable to confirm the real state of the vehicles being auctioned; however, the buyer still has the ability to inspect and check all potential vehicles prior to the salvage car auction taking place. They even encourage the bidders to look at the vehicles before they place an offer to make sure they are aware on what they are bidding for.

Tips in Buying a Salvaged Car

There are several tips to take note of before bidding for a salvaged car. These points to ponder are as follows:

• Check which exact parts of the car have been affected or damaged.

• Understand first what a salvage title is (a title given to a vehicle with damages more than or equal to 75% of its value) — as it’s given with the vehicle in most cases.

• You may want to consider getting a CarFax report. It may not have all the information, but it would contain most of the details that you need to know. The ‘details’ part of the report contains both frame damage and airbag deployment check, which is important if you want to check a car’s status.

• Obtain a qualified inspection, both frame and mechanical. It also determines the car’s value.

• Compare the cost of possible repairs to the cost of your savings. It has been said that the more work you are willing to do to your vehicle, the more you are able to save.

• The vehicle you are getting may or may not come with a key. In cases that the car won’t have a key, you can still take the car’s ignition to a locksmith — they may be able to make a key for you.

• Be careful when choosing the salvage car auctions where you’re going to buy your car. As much as possible, check for dealers with reputable names.

Purchasing a salvaged car can sometimes be a good option, as long as you are aware of what you’re getting into. There are some advantages as well, such as not having a middleman that usually comes with buying used cars. If your budget is the main priority, then it’s best to buy a salvaged car.