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Buying a car from an auction can be an excellent way to save money on your next car purchase. There are many auctions to choose from. One of the bigger car auctions is run by the government and involves a wide variety of vehicles in the government’s possession. There are two choices when buying a vehicle from a government option. Here’s a look at the differences between them.

The type of things you can expect to bid on at a government auction

A person holding up a paddle at an action similar to what you would do when you buy a vehicle from a Government Auction.
Bidders paddle | David Paul Morris via Getty Images

USA gov wrote that the government holds auctions for various things every year. One of the most well-known things the government puts on auction is the cars seized by the police from criminals and other property seized from criminals, including boats, planes, jewelry, and more. 

However, that’s not the only source of auctionable goods. For example, the government puts real estate on auction from time to time. They also have their own fleet of vehicles, and when those cars are no longer needed, they can end up at a government auction. Not all cars at a government auction are like that, so it’s essential to know what’s offered at each type of auction.

1. GSA Auto Auctions

Government fleet vehicles no longer needed are usually put on auction at GSA Auto Auctions. Every year, thousands of government fleet vehicles are auctioned off and include a variety of segments—for example, passenger cars, trucks, buses, vans, and even alternative fuel vehicles.

In addition, those vehicles tend to be well-maintained and have low mileage. This means that folks who buy a car from GSA Auto Auctions should be able to drive off in it without much of a hitch. Of course, these vehicles are available at a significant discount compared to a brand-new model.

2. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Auctions


These Men Stole 15 Government SUVs and Sold Them for $512,420 (Including a GMC Hummer)

As the name of this auction option suggests, the vehicles that get auctioned off are from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Once again, this auction offers a wide variety of segments, including sedans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. 

However, these vehicles are sold “as is,” and the government requires buyers to tow them from wherever they were bought. Furthermore, the government warns that these vehicles “should not be considered safe for driving” until they’re checked by a licensed professional. Unsurprisingly, these vehicles should also be much cheaper than normal. 

How to choose between those two government auction options

No matter which auction option folks choose, they should be able to save money on whatever car they purchase. The nature of the two different auction options means there are clear differences in which auction is the best for you. GSA Auto Auctions is probably the best option overall, as the vehicles are maintained and are ready to drive. Folks interested in getting a solid and reliable daily driver should stick to GSA Auto Auctions if possible.

On the other hand, while the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Vehicle Auctions has cars that aren’t ready to drive, folks who don’t mind a fixer-upper can still find a suitable vehicle there. Plus, since these vehicles will likely be worse in quality than the cars at GSA Auto Auctions, there will probably be fewer bidders. That’ll make it more likely that you get the winning bid.