Pickup trucks are more than muscle vehicles. They have become a symbol of the country: strong, formidable, and dependable. These trucks can get you anywhere and offer a lot of benefits to their owners. Whether you’re thinking of using them for business or personal, it doesn’t matter. They deliver.
Pickup trucks are not for everyone, but for those who need or desire them, it should be known these vehicles come with a high price. On the average, a pickup will cost you around $30,000. A Toyota Tacoma, which has an excellent record in off-road driving, sells around $35,000 for its 2016 model.
Is there a way to spend less on these types of vehicles? Yes, there is. It’s called a government auction.
What Is a Government Auction?
When you hear the word “auction,” what comes into your mind? Perhaps you imagine the same things you normally see in movies: men and women in formal dresses try to outbid one another for an item they consider valuable.
Well, a government auction isn’t entirely different. The basic idea of bidding, buying, and selling is still there. However, you can expect more action than when attending auctions by Sotheby’s.
A government auction can be specific. For example, it may be selling trucks only. If you attend on one of these events, you’ll find dozens of trucks, including pickups, to bid on. You select your favorites, bid on them once they are ready for auction, and try to outbid your competitors if there’s any for you to get the vehicle.
Why Is There a Government Truck Auction in the First Place?
Truck auctions are not uncommon, but there’s a good chance those you know are run by private organizations. What’s the government’s business in selling? To know the answer, you have to learn why they have these pickup trucks in the first place.
The government is composed of various agencies and institutions such as hospitals, federal buildings and services, and schools, just to name a few. For them to deliver the appropriate, sufficient, and accurate services to their citizens, they need to have tools and equipment including pickup trucks. How else can they send materials for road repair if they don’t have these kinds of vehicles?
In fact, the government is one of the biggest clients for a lot of vehicle contractors as their orders can be worth millions or even billions!
Nevertheless, just because they are purchased by the government doesn’t mean the vehicles don’t have a shelf life anymore. At the very least, they’re good for 5 to 10 years, depending on how they’re used and other factors. Like any vehicle owner, the government also realizes depreciation for these cars. They need that for accounting and auditing. Further, as long as these vehicles are with them, they have to declare inventory expenses, which are costs associated with maintaining these trucks.
Depending on the contract and the condition of the vehicles, the government has to replace these trucks at some point. But if these trucks are still in good condition, the acquisition of new ones will only mean surplus of assets. This then translates to higher depreciation and inventory costs.
In order to relieve themselves of these extra assets, reduce their expenses (which can save them millions of dollars as well), and realize a profit that can be helpful for the government agency or institution doing the selling, they offer the vehicles through an auction.
Why an auction? It’s one of the best ways to sell assets like pickup trucks fast.
What Does This Mean for You?
Whether it’s your first or nth time to want a pickup truck, one of the best places to look for one is in a government auction. Here are the reasons why:
- You have access to some of the best-maintained vehicles.
It’s a given if you’re a vehicle owner, you must be able to spend money on its maintenance. The problem is it can be costly. Others are less diligent. Either way, cars suffer from premature wear and tear.
Although not all pickup trucks available at government auctions are in mint condition, most are. It’s because the government sets aside a budget for maintenance annually.
- Vehicles are offered cheap.
Do you know a government auction can save you a lot of money? How much? You ask. It can be up to 70% off its book value, so it turns out used cars sold at auctions are significantly cheaper than those offered by dealers.
But why? We can cite many reasons, one of which is the quick disposal of the assets. As mentioned, the more the government keeps the vehicles, the more they spend on inventory and depreciation. Simply put, these assets are not doing anything other than cost something!
In order to attract buyers and send these pickup trucks as soon as possible, they tend to become a bargain.
- Supply is aplenty.
To be clear, competition can be tough at government auctions. However, usually there’s also an ample supply of vehicles to choose from. This works in your favor since it means there can be fewer bidders per pickup truck. Fewer bidders translate to lower demand, and lower demand means there’s a slim chance bid price can go up very quickly. Further, to be given options provides you an opportunity to find a pickup truck that suits to your liking and need.
Note that not all types of government auctions will give you a lot of pickup trucks to bid on. This is especially true if the auction is organized at the local level. Nevertheless, you can use auction listing websites such as Gov-auctions.org.
These kinds of websites are not auction sites. This means you don’t bid on pickup trucks there. However, they are useful since they give you tips on where to find government auctions.
The website acts as a database for all active and upcoming auctions, including government auctions, around the country. You can sort the list according to the ones nearest you as well as the kinds of vehicles that are for auction like pickup trucks. In fact, you can narrow your search based on the model, mileage, and manufacturer.
Depending on how much data the website can obtain from its original source, the listing may already include important information such as the date and place of the auction, photos of vehicles for auctions, minimum bid price, and time for inspection, among others. You will also know the cost of participating and other possible fees.
How to Bid on a Pickup Truck
Choosing the right pickup truck among the possible dozens of options requires a more in-depth knowledge on trucks and excellent bargaining and negotiation skills during bidding. Nevertheless, you can begin preparing yourself for the government auction with these tips:
- Know what kind of pickup truck you like.
These days, the market has a full-size, compact, and hybrid pickup trucks. If you’re looking for those with manual transmission, you may be out of luck since most of those manufactured over the years are already using automatic. There are also kinds of vehicles that may appear like pickups, especially sports utility, which has four doors followed by an open bed.
Pickup trucks can also differ in terms of weight and classifications. Pickup trucks fall between class 1 (light pickup truck) and class 3 (heavy-duty pickup). The gross vehicle weight rating, therefore, can range from below 6,000 to as much as 14,000 pounds. These figures matter in terms of road rules and safety regulations.
- Don’t skip the inspection schedule.
Car auctions give you enough time to inspect the vehicle, and almost always this is scheduled a day or a few hours before the bidding process begins. Don’t miss this time!
Vehicles at auctions are sold on an as-is basis, which means you buy them in their present condition. Most of the government pickup trucks are in good form, but some don’t. If you end up bidding a vehicle that has damages, you need to spend for its repair. There’s a possibility you’ll spend more on repair than the actual price you pay for the pickup truck.
During the inspection, bring along an auto mechanic who can provide you with reliable information on the actual condition of the pickup truck. Inspection doesn’t have to take more than an hour. After the auto mechanic is done inspecting, ask that you take the vehicle for a test drive. This is the best way to truly gauge the workings and condition of the pickup truck.
What will you do if the pickup truck has defects or flaws? It’s all up to you! You can use these issues as your leverage during bidding or look for a healthier vehicle.
- Don’t settle for just one vehicle.
At the very least, consider 5 pickup trucks. List them down according to your priority during bidding. This is one of the surest ways not to walk out of the auction empty-handed.
- Bid early if you can.
Some auctions will allow you to bid as early as a day before the actual auction schedule. Take the opportunity! This way, you have fewer things to worry the next day. Moreover, since you can sometimes see how many are bidding for the same pickup truck, you can already gauge its demand and how much the final bidding price is going to be.
- Be ready when bidding.
Now that you’ve already inspected the vehicle and even placed your initial bid, it’s time to know how to survive and thrive in the bidding process:
Always have a budget
A lot of bidders try to set up the minimum amount they’re willing to pay for a vehicle, and that’s not a good idea. During the bidding process, prices can change drastically and quickly. If you keep thinking on a specific price, you are at the risk of not getting or winning any! The ideal thing to do is to create a range, which is the minimum and the maximum price you’re willing to pay for the vehicle. This gives you more control over your budget and greater flexibility when bidding.
Check resale prices.
Doing this is helpful even if you’re not thinking of reselling the pickup truck anytime soon. Although government auctions offer you vehicles that are cheaper than those of dealers, this doesn’t happen all the time. In other words, if you want to know if participating in an auction is worth the trouble, compare the possible final price with the pickup truck’s resale value in the market. You can also use this information when creating your budget for bidding. Common sense dictates you should never go beyond the vehicle’s resale value.
You can use websites such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds for resale prices. Since they are accessible online, you can do the comparison even when you’re already at the auction.
Know what to do in case you win.
If you lose the bid, what’s the harm? Most probably you’ll go home with a bruised ego and a crushed dream, but that’s it. These are things you can get over with and, surprisingly, soon. What you need to focus on, therefore, is the winning.
What will you do if you win?
- Determine the total costs of winning the pickup truck. These include all the fees or charges to pay on top of the final bidding price.
- Get your payments ready. After bidding, normally you have to pay the final bid price, which you can pay in cash or check (depending on what the auction is willing to accept). The rest should be settled in a certain period.
- Secure the transport. While you may be eager to drive the pickup truck from the auction site to your home, hold yourself. Driving it that way is more complicated as you have to deal with many issues including insurance. Thus, more often than not, you need a transport. Fortunately, many auctions have transport companies as partners. Nevertheless, ask if they have one so you can already prepare yours in case you win.