According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a part of the United States federal government you’ve likely never heard of unless you work in it, total spending by all governments in the United States totaled $7.3 trillion in 2019. That’s 34-percent of the country’s gross domestic product (everything we did that made money). Keep in mind this is for 2019 — before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has blown government spending upwards like a rocket burning a refined distillate of debt. And what did the local, state, and federal governments throw all that cash at? Well, a lot of things, like ballpoint pens, aircraft carriers, homeless shelters, governor’s mansions, and lots and lots of vehicles. So many vehicles in fact that they’ve always got a bunch to unload.
And where they do that unloading? At auctions. Sometimes huge auctions where the inventory to be disposed of stretches off to the horizon. Sometimes it’s a few old snowplows and used up cop cars being sold behind a dealership. And increasingly, the auctions take place online because, hey, everything is happening online. Especially in a pandemic.
If you’re curious about buying a car at a government auction, here are a few suggestions, strategies, and tips to get the most out of it.
Even with today’s powerful online car shopping resources, which can bring up listings from Anchorage to Atlanta with the tap of a finger, most new and used car purchases are still made within ten miles from home.
But traveling further in pursuit of the perfect car or the best deal is becoming increasingly common.
We’re no doubt preaching to the choir here, but there are lots of great reasons for buying an older used car. If you’re nostalgic for the style of a past era, these vehicles will satisfy your thirst for vintage design. For example, there’s no denying the elegance of a classic Jaguar.
In some cases, older used cars offer performance benefits that are hard to duplicate in newer models. Case in point: With its high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 and sonorous engine note, the E39 generation BMW M5 delivers a driving experience that’s one of a kind.
A couple of decades ago, the search for a used vehicle began with hours spent squinting through the classifieds. You’d then head out to get a closer look at each candidate, and this could involve fending off aggressive salespeople at local used car dealerships or mumbling through awkward interactions with private party sellers. Then along came the Internet, an innovation that allowed us to search for used cars online.
In many ways, the Internet has simplified the process of shopping for a used car. But it can also make this task more overwhelming. There’s an almost endless selection of websites offering to help you select your next pre-owned vehicle, and you may find yourself drowning in a sea of information and choices. These sites aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and knowing which ones you can rely on can be tricky.
Buying a used car is not only the best way to get the most car for your money; it also helps you dodge a massive hit from depreciation. And, in some cases, older models are actually better than newer ones.
However, no matter how well you do your research or how great an example you find, a used car is a complex machine with pieces that, after five or ten (or more) years on the road, are sometimes going to break.