Definitions

impounded

Impounded vehicle auction

An impounded vehicle auction is a type of auction that specializes in selling abandoned and disabled vehicles. Once a car is towed by municipalities or private companies and the requisite time has passed, the cars are auctioned to recover the cost of towing and storage.

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.

These auctions are typically held by an auctioneer on the grounds of the tow lot, but Internet-based auctions are becoming more common.(TowLot.com, Proxi Bid)

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.

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