Buy Then Sell a Car Impounded by the Police

Law enforcement officials can impound vehicles when certain traffic laws have been violated. Since it's not possible for enforcement agencies to retain all vehicles they impound, the vehicles are sold at police auctions. Purchasing an auction vehicle and reselling it can be profitable. Follow these steps to buy then sell a car impounded by the police.


Find an Auction

  1. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of attending live and Internet auctions.
    • Decide if attending a live auction is the right choice for you. Attending a live auction will allow you to see and inspect the cars. However, attending a live auction will take up more of your time than an Internet auction. The drive time and time spent at the auction will take up most, if not all, of a day. You will also need to make arrangements to get the vehicle home after it is purchased.
    • Browse the various Internet auction sites to determine if you want to attend an online auction. If you purchase a vehicle on the Internet, you can make all the bids from your computer. You won't need to worry about transporting the vehicle because it will be shipped to you. However, you will be relying on the information provided on the site regarding the condition of the vehicle. Unlike a live auction, there is no opportunity to inspect the vehicle.
  2. Call your local police department and read the newspapers to learn about auctions in your area, if you've decided to attend a live auction. Enforcement agencies will have information on when and where auctions are held. Agencies that impound vehicles also will put the information in your local newspaper.
  3. Research police auction websites if you decide to attend an auction on the Internet. Some websites charge a fee for participating in vehicle auctions. When you find a site you like, register with the website.

Buy an Impounded Vehicle

  1. Prepare to buy a vehicle at a live auction. If you choose to purchase a car at a live auction, arrive at the auction early. This will give you time to read any rules regarding the bidding process and preview the vehicles.
    • Choose the vehicles you want to bid on. Keep track of where the vehicles you are interested in are located, and the times for the auctions that are selling those vehicles.
    • Create a schedule for yourself based on when each auction you want to attend is taking place. Determine when to take a lunch break, and stay organized so you don't miss one of the auctions you are planning on attending.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the different types of impounded vehicle auctions on the Internet. If you are attending a website auction, understand how the auction site operates and learn the site rules before bidding on a vehicle.
  3. Determine your maximum bid and stop bidding when you've reached that point. Whether you are attending a live auction or an Internet auction, set a spending limit prior to the start of the auction to help you control costs.
    • Calculate the costs for shipping the vehicle, the cost of any repairs, necessary cleaning costs, and advertising expenses for reselling the vehicle before you bid on it.
  4. Bid on vehicles that you want to buy. Watch the auction for higher bids and make additional bids that are within your maximum bid limits.
  5. Complete all necessary paperwork and make arrangements to take possession of the vehicle if you win the auction.
    • Ask when you will receive the title for the vehicle. You won't be able to resell the vehicle until you have the title. If you attend a live auction, you should receive the title at the time of purchase. If you attend an Internet auction, ask the seller to send the title to you by the fastest postal means available.

Sell an Impounded Car

  1. Acquire the title to the vehicle prior to listing it for sale. If you don't receive the title, contact your local government branch that handles creating a lost title report.
  2. Complete all the work that needs to be done on the impounded vehicle prior to listing it for sale. This includes making all necessary repairs, and cleaning the inside and outside of the vehicle.
  3. Research how much the vehicle is worth. Consider the year, make, model, mileage and overall condition of the vehicle. Tools for evaluating the worth of vehicles are available on the Internet and in your local library.
    • Browse your local auto ads and classifieds for vehicles similar to yours to get an idea of what price to list your vehicle.
    • Increase your selling price by $300 to $500 to provide you with a negotiating edge.
  4. Advertise the vehicle for sale. Methods include advertising in your local newspaper, putting a "for sale" sign on the vehicle, posting information on social networking sites and advertising on online vehicle sales websites.


  • Take your driver's license and proof of financial responsibility with you to an impounded vehicle auction. If you purchase a vehicle at a live auction, you may need to drive it off the auction lot the same day.
  • Consider selling your impounded car or trading it in for another vehicle at a car dealership. This eliminates your advertising expenses, but may not result in the highest possible sales prices.
  • If you are attending a live auction, take a mechanic with you, if possible.