Where to Find Seized or Surplus Cars

Where to Find Seized or Surplus Cars
  • Opening Intro -

    You may have seen the ads telling you where you can buy seized cars for pennies on the dollar and may have wondered, "is this a scam?"


Discounted vehicles and where to find them.

I cannot comment on an individual advertisement, but I can tell you that if you’re looking for a used car, then there are several places you can go to find a seized or surplus car courtesy of the federal government. There are local sales too, but that information is for another time.

How these cars became part of the federal inventory differs. Some cars are seized from drug dealers while others are older fleet vehicles with high miles that are being retired. Some are in good shape while others are rough in and around the edges. Read on and we’ll look at how you can find that diamond in the rough.

U.S. Marshals Service

— Vehicles seized by embezzlers, drug dealers and other assorted criminals by the U.S. Marshals Service eventually make it to public auction. Generally, you won’t find a Ford or a Chevy unless that vehicle is a loaded Tahoe. Then again, most any vehicle can be had if you’re patient and willing to travel to one of the many scheduled auctions located across the country.

Internal Revenue Service

— The IRS is your friend until you quit paying your income taxes. At some point, your property can be seized and the IRS offers real and personal property sales on a regular basis. You can subscribe to receive Treasury Auctions updates too.

U.S. Department of Energy

— Fleet vehicles from the Energy Department are sold through the Idaho National Laboratory and include passenger cars and light duty trucks. You can also bid on trailers, motor scooters and truck tractors.

GSA Fleet Vehicle Sales

— Where do all those government cars go? Well, they are eventually sold and, if you’re near one of the many auction houses that sell these cars, you may be able to get a great deal on a government ride. The GSA sells about 40,000 cars each year at nearly 40 locations. You can search online for a vehicle and learn about attending an auction.

State and local governments also conduct auctions. Check with your county or state vehicle sales division for more information. As always, you get a mixed bag with used cars sold at auction — bring along a mechanic if you’re not sure what you’re getting into.

Money Management reference:

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".