Most states require a rigorous process to determine the owner of the vehicle and the disposition of the title before allowing a vehicle to be auctioned. This includes a title search, publication of an impending sale and certified letters in an attempt to give the vehicle's owner an opportunity to pay towing and storage costs and recover the vehicle.
States and municipalities vary widely in their treatment of impound auctions. In some states, bidders must register as salvage dealers or restoration companies in order to bid. In Missouri, impounded vehicles may only be offered to the general public with a salvage title, while other states have no restrictions on who may purchase a vehicle.
Impounded vehicles are offered as-is, where-is with no warranty. Those auctioning the vehicles have no knowledge of its mechanical condition beyond the obvious (such as rust), and are generally exempt from providing warranties. As a winning bidder, one must purchase and take possession of the vehicle, even if it is not capable of leaving the lot under its own power. Keys are not always available, and in cars with a digital dash, the mileage may not be known.