There are 2 types of government vehicles that the public can buy:

  1. One type is the fleet of vehicles that are used by government employees.
  2. The other type are the vehicles that are seized by the government specifically law enforcement agencies such as The Marshals Service; U.S. Attorney’s Offices; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In this first part of the article, we will cover the first type:

Government Fleet Vehicles

These are cars that are leased by the government on a 3-5 year term for use by government employees on the job.  At the end of the lease term, the government sells the vehicles at steep discounts to the public through the Internet and auctions.  The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), a division of the federal government, is in charge of buying / leasing the cars, managing the fleet (doing the necessary maintenance and repair), and selling the cars.  Cars for sale are listed on the GSA website at http://www.autoauctions.gsa.gov.  GSA sells about 35,000 vehicles a year ranging from cars, trucks, SUVs and vans.   The vehicles are generally of good quality and have been well maintained by the government.  The savings could be substantial since after all the government does use our hard-earned tax dollars to acquire the vehicles and  is not in the business of making a if any profit from the sales of the vehicles to the public (the tax payers).

To learn more about buying these government-owned fleet vehicles, here are some frequently asked questions from their site:

What are my advantages in buying a pre-owned GSA Fleet vehicle?
GSA Fleet offers you cars, trucks and other vehicles with low mileage and only one previous owner. These vehicles have been well maintained. Our vehicles are carefully detailed before sale and come loaded with most options consumers typically prefer. Additionally, with no buyer’s fees, pre-owned vehicles from GSA usually sell for substantially less than from other sources.

How do I register for an auction?
You must register at the sponsoring auction facility on the day of inspection or auction to obtain a bidder’s number.

Who is eligible to purchase a GSA Fleet vehicle?
Any member of the public who is a licensed driver and at least 18 years of age is eligible to bid at our auctions. GSA employees and members of their immediate households, and auction contractors, subcontractors, and members of their immediate households are prohibited from buying, directly or indirectly, at a GSA Fleet sale. Employees of other government agencies may purchase government property, unless prohibited by their agency regulations.

How much does a GSA Fleet Vehicle Auction cost to attend?
Nothing. Registration to participate in any of our Vehicle Auctions is free.

Am I able to purchase a vehicle for someone else?
Yes. To purchase a vehicle on behalf of other parties, you must furnish their Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number. The attending bidder must furnish a letter granting power of attorney to purchase Federal Surplus Property on behalf of the individual or company you are representing.

Can I test drive a vehicle before bidding?
During inspection you can start a vehicle to check the performance of its engine, air conditioning, heater, and other accessories. However, the vehicle must stay parked and cannot be driven.

Does the Government warranty its vehicles?
GSA Fleet offers to the original purchaser that the property listed in the invitation will conform to its description. However, where applicable, manufacturer’s warranties are transferable. Purchasers should contact their vehicle’s manufacturer to determine whether its warranty remains in force. We cannot attest to the condition of vehicles we sell for other Federal agencies, however known deficiencies will be listed.

How does GSA Fleet determine who is awarded the vehicle?
Each vehicle will be sold to the highest responsive bidder. GSA Fleet reserves the right to reject any or all bids including bids under which a bidder would take unfair advantage of the Government or other bidders.

How many vehicles does GSA Fleet sell, and when?
GSA Fleet will sell approximately 35,000 vehicles this coming year. Most vehicles will be available between April–September, when a majority of our leases expire, but we conduct sales throughout the entire year.

Can I refuse a vehicle after my bid was accepted?
No, Successful bidders are contractually bound to pay for and remove their vehicles from the auction facility within the time period specified. Failure to pay for, or take possession of the vehicle within these time frames may subject the buyer to additional fees/penalties as identified in the SF 114C, or any other special terms and conditions of sale.

Are there any hidden charges?
Your accepted bid price represents your total payment, except in those states that require applicable taxes to be paid at the time of sale. There are no added buyer’s fees.

How can I pay for my vehicle?
Accepted forms of payment may include cash, credit card, cashier’s check, credit union cashier’s check, traveler’s check, postal or commercial money order, and properly endorsed Federal, State, or local government checks. Personal or company checks may be accepted if accompanied by a bank guarantee; however, check with the auction before the sale to make sure they will accept it. Checks must be made payable to the auction facility. MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover credit cards will be accepted, subject to verification and approval by the issuing bank. It is recommended that you contact your credit card provider in advance of the sale to pre-authorize what might otherwise be an abnormally large purchase. As a security feature of many credit cards unusually large purchases, while legitimate and within available credit, may be declined to prevent fraud. A pre-authorizing phone call to your credit card provider may prevent any delays in the processing of your payment.

How do I register my vehicle?
A Government Certificate to Obtain Title (Standard Form 97) and a Purchaser’s Receipt will be issued for each motor vehicle sold. SF-97 is evidence of titleability only and should be used by the purchaser to obtain a proper motor vehicle registration for his or her state.

Why does GSA Fleet sell its vehicles?
GSA Fleet maintains most of its vehicles through leasing arrangements. At the conclusion of its lease (typically 3–5 years), GSA Fleet will sell a vehicle in order to finance its automotive fleet purchases.

Does GSA Fleet sell seized vehicles?
No. Seized vehicles are sold by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Department of the Treasury.

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