With the economy still in the tank – a comment recently came up in our chat box saying they wish there was coupons for cars. I mentioned that Sarah and I go to car auctions, and I thought I would post this for all to learn more about it.Some of you have asked how and why I purchased our vehicles at the GSA auctions. What is GSA? GSA is General Service Administration. These are vehicles from the Fish and Game, Forest Service, and many other government agency’s. These are all well maintained vehicles and mainly they are domestic cars and trucks.
Since Sarah and I have been married we have have bought ALL of our vehicles there. Sarah’s family has also purchased ALL of their vehicles there.
Sarah bought a 95 Corsica before we were married for a couple thousand under book value. Our 98 Caravan we bought 6 years ago. And our Ford Excursion we bought about 3 years ago. We love them. All of them we got for a couple thousand cheaper then we could get else where.
Recently I went back to an auctions to look and see what they were selling for. The Excursions were selling for under $5000. These trucks have a Blue Book close to $20,000. They had a 2005 with 48k miles that sold for the highest price of $5400. But the next time they were over $12,000. So you never know what kind of deal you are going to find! Now in trucks some have cloth seats some have vinyl. Most trucks have vinyl floors… which I really LIKE! It comes in handy when that Big 99 oz Big Gulp is kicked over by our kids. Plus we tend to always lay down rubber floor mats, so why not just have it vinyl and keep it clean!
Come on haven’t you ever got into someones minivan and it smells like Peanut Butter and Jelly and a combo of stinky diapers! Vinyl floors people, vinyl floors!
Most trucks also have steel stock rims. But for as cheap as you can get these vehicles $50 bucks for a chrome factory wheel that is in the back lot of your local tire store will work. See those fancy rims people get.. well where do you think the original chrome rims go? Chrome rim heaven….no.. they sit in the back of your local tire store till they figure out what to do with it. Talk to your local manager and see if they will sell you some. Mine are almost brand new!
Any ways the vans, cars and small trucks are normal cars. You can’t drive the vehicles but a good shift forward and reverse will give the home mechanic a good idea what might be wrong with it. They do post any known issues on the window and brochures.
Here is some info I pulled from their site.
Why does GSA Fleet sell its vehicles?
GSA Fleet maintains most of its vehicles through leasing arrangements. At the conclusion of its lease (typically 3–5 years), GSA Fleet will sell a vehicle in order to finance its automotive fleet purchases.
Inspect Your Vehicles
Familiarize yourself with all the vehicles you are seeking. GSA highly recommends that buyers check out their prospective vehicles, either prior to the start of the auction or at the auction house’s Inspection Day (if one is scheduled). With several hundred vehicles slated for sale, you should allow at least one or two hours to inspect your selections. Also, be prepared to bid on several alternatives in case your first choice is bought by someone else.
Review the Auction Catalog
The auction house will distribute a catalog of available GSA vehicles on the day of the Auction and preceding Inspection Day (if scheduled). The auction catalog lists each vehicle in the order it will be offered with its make, model, year, color, VIN, mileage, installed equipment and special features.
Calculate Your Target Price
The first thing to know is that there are resources out there to help you develop a sense of what a vehicle might be worth. NADA (National Auto Dealer’s Association), Kelley Blue Book, and Edmunds are online sites, among others, with pricing guides that can assist you in trying to value vehicles. Another helpful tool is visiting local dealer sites. Those sites can give you a good idea of what similar vehicles are selling for retail. You may also find that your lending institution has printed publications to assist you in determining the value of a vehicle.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that all used cars are a little bit different. A car may have higher or lower mileage than a similar vehicle. It might be in better or worse condition. It might have a few different options. These differences can play a significant role in moving prices above or below average. So remember, a pricing guide offers guidance, it is not able to tell you exactly what a particular vehicle will be worth on a particular day at a particular location.
Finally, realize that you are buying in a wholesale auction environment. At a GSA sale, the only people who are not allowed to bid are GSA employees and their immediate families, and Auction House employees, subcontractors, and any of their immediate families. That means that the general public, dealers, businesses and other buyers are bidding against each other. If making that final $100 bid will still save you substantial money as opposed to buying retail, then place the bid. If it does not make sense, don’t worry, there is another car coming that can meet your needs.