City’s upcoming auction offers vehicles for a steal, but there’s a catch

After our homes, cars are the second-most expensive item many of us buy.

So if you’re looking for a deal on a used car, the city may have an offer for you.

The city is selling 341 vehicles, with the majority to be auctioned on May 10, and about a dozen others auctioned on May 11.

They’re vehicles that were either unclaimed after being towed by police or abandoned. Some are in better shape than others.

“At times, there are some vehicles that may be worth your while,” said Steven Wong, supervisor of the city’s Motor Vehicle Control Branch.

Among the vehicles for sale: a 2016 Mazda sedan, a 2013 Toyota van, a couple of Land Rovers, Toyota pickup trucks, and some older model Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus.

For a list of vehicles that will be up for auction, visit the city’s auction site and click on “Vehicle List for Unclaimed and Abandoned Vehicles.”

“You can view the cars up to five days prior to the auction. There’s a number to make an appointment on the website,” Wong said. “The minimum bid is $50 plus towing and storage.”

It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, but before you buy, Wong noted: “You won’t be allowed to open up the vehicle or open the hood. It’s just you do a once around looking at the vehicle from the outside and that’s pretty much what you’re going to be allowed to do.”

You can run a CarFax on your own if you want to get the vehicle history, but it’s still a gamble.

“It is buyer beware, sold as is where is, so do your homework,” Wong said.

Not everything sells. In fact, last month only 79 out of 404 vehicles sold. So what happens to the ones that aren’t sold at the auction?

Wong said: “It becomes property of the tow contractor, who may dispose of it through sale or scrap.”

Interested bidders must register online here. If you need help navigating the system, view this guide.

Last month’s auction brought in $23,000 to the city’s general fund. That’s money that can go to repairing roads, improving parks, even helping the homeless.

If you don’t find something you like this time around, the city is holding similar auctions every month till the end of the year.

The auction dates scheduled for the remainder of the year:

  • May 10, 11
  • June 7, 8
  • July 5, 6
  • Aug 2, 3
  • Aug 30, 31
  • Sep 27, 28
  • Oct 25, 26
  • Nov 20, 21
  • Dec 20, 21

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