Cheap ‘n Nasty: Seized Police Car Auctions In Melbourne.

Police car auctions and seized vehicle auctions in Melbourne, Victoria. I’ve always loved places where you can pick up a bargain, whether it be seized property auctions, garage sales and the like. Have you ever considered buying a seized motor vehicle, perhaps for parts or getting back on the road? Perhaps the idea of buying cars from auctions is a little scary. You can’t pretest, and you don’t know the history of the motor vehicle. It means that you need to have a trained eye and work up some experience before spending some hard cash on a car. The last thing I would want readers to do is to bid against seasoned players at an auction and then find the vehicle needs substantial work to get back on the road and get registered leaving the purchaser well and truly with a “lemon” on their hands.

For readers in Adelaide, you might want to check out our article here.  If you are in Perth, you might want to check this mention on Perth police car auctions.

Seized vehicles in Melbourne, Victoria.
Where does the stock for seized vehicle auctions come from?

There are many outlets where vehicles for eventual sale at seized auto auctions are sourced.

Victorian Police for example, In 2011 seized 1,000 vehicles for hoon offences (the figure is probably much greater than quoted in the article by years end). Some people might think a Police car auction is the sale of ex-police vehicles. No, that’s not the case. In this article, we will show you a video below of a police car auction in New South Wales that was attended by a television news crew and the testing that was done on the vehicles purchased after. Police car auctions are vehicles that the police have seized and confiscation notices issued.

The Victorian sheriff also regularly seizes property and in particular motor vehicles for unpaid fines and an open court issued warrants.

City Councils around Melbourne and Victoria tow abandoned vehicles that have just been dumped or left in the street. Most Councils have the power in Victoria to impound vehicles it (the Council) believe are abandoned or derelict. Each Council has its written rules and directives on the treatment of abandoned vehicles which I won’t cover at the moment in this article. Once a vehicle has been towed and remains unclaimed for a period it may be sold via public auction. Financial companies repossess motor vehicles from owners for nonpayment of car loans and vehicle leasing charges. All of these parties that are sourcing vehicles need to recover money (debt, infringements, etc.) and the way they do this is by auctioning the goods/vehicles seized. The goods get sold by the Melbourne auction houses below:

Melbourne Auction Companies – Auctioning Seized and Abandoned (Goods) Vehicles.

SEIZED GOODS AUCTIONS: Let’s have a look at a few outlets where you can buy vehicles that have been abandoned, repossessed and seized in Victoria and put up for public auction. I will be updating this list as I get more sources. Although this is a website on the topic of motor vehicles, I have mentioned auctioneers that are also representative for selling seized goods.

The various parties appoint the auction houses to represent them as well as the type of goods being auctioned.  For example, unclaimed and seized goods auctions (nonvehicle) are auctioned by Breen’s or Graysonline.  Vehicles auctions are done through Pickles and Manheim.

Victorian Sheriffs Office – Unclaimed goods auctions. These auctions are done by Breen Auctions. They work for the Victorian Police and Sheriffs Office (at the moment) and draw around 100 buyers per auction. Breen Auctions have a depot in West Footscray in Sunshine Road and currently at the time of writing Tammy Barnett was managing the Police Auction / Unclaimed goods auctions at Breen’s. Their number is: (03) 9687 8577. Grays Auctions also handle unclaimed goods. Grays online auction system is excellent, and Grays have been operating as an online auction house for some years. Many have bought surplus office gear such as laptops and wine at great prices. The volume of vehicles sold through Grays is much lower than the volume of vehicles sold by Pickles or Manheim.

MELBOURNE VEHICLE AUCTIONS (Seized, abandoned motor vehicles):

Council Auctions:
Council regularly auction off abandoned vehicles. As mentioned above, Councils have the power to sell publicly by auction motor vehicles that they believe are abandoned or derelict. In Victoria, Nationwide Towing conducts monthly auctions of abandoned vehiclesat their Blackburn headquarters for Council vehicle auctions.

Melbourne Finance Companies: Many of the major financial institutions use Pickles Auctions in Melbourne for their auctions. Recently we wrote another article about the huge “hail sale” auction Pickles had in Brisbane. There were hundreds of hail damaged vehicles which at the time of writing were still ongoing and were sold. Bargains (some referred to as “steals” were to be had such as late model Toyota Yaras going for as little as $3,000 requiring just a back window replacement and some dents were taken out (not having seen the vehicle but based on the media reports that I read).

Pickles Auctions Melbourne represents some leading companies including Esanda (ANZ), Macquarie Leasing, GE Money, Toyota Financial Services, St George Bank, Capital Finance, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Volkswagen Financial Services, Westpac Bank National Australia Bank and Liberty Financial Services. You can check out the Pickles auctions here in a list of upcoming auctions, and there is usually an excellent variety of stock including late model cars and European makes.

Victorian Sheriff Office, seized motor vehicle auction- The sheriff’s office seizes motor vehicles for unpaid infringements or court judgements. The money that results from the sale of seized assets goes towards paying the debt that was incurred (the original amount of the offence plus the costs related to the enforcement). The vehicles are removed from the premises and taken away to a holding area for public auction. Manheim Auctions Melbourne at the time of writing tends to handle a lot of the Victorian Sheriff work. Manheim’s perform auctions of vehicles, trucks and machinery. Like Pickles in Brisbane at their ongoing hail sale and damaged vehicle auctions, Manheim Melbourne sells a lot of vehicles and it’s just a matter of monitoring the lists of what dates are coming up.

So what are the pitfalls of buying a motor vehicle at a seized motor vehicle auction?

Police car auctions might sound attractive to buy a cheap motor vehicle, but there are pitfalls and traps. It’s best if you intend to purchase a car at a Police car auction that you have some form of mechanical knowledge and know that the vehicle is cheap for a reason. Its history is unknown; the car could have been trashed by hoons, stolen and used in police chases and abandoned. You can’t pretest the vehicle, and it can be costly to the untrained eye.

Television investigation into the safety of “police car auction” vehicles: Disposal auctions are held all over the country. There was an interesting report that we found on Channel 7’s Today Tonight program that highlighted some of the dangers in buying such vehicles. The video showed a New South Wales auction of stolen and impounded vehicles. The auction was attended by a lot of people and the reporters for the story ended up buying two vehicles through the auction.

The main problem highlighted by the report pointed to the fact buyers only don’t know the cars history. The car could have been trashed, crashed and another damage was done during the “end life” of the car. The RAC’s (Royal Automobile Club of Australia) has also raised vehicle safety concerns about buying cars at “police car auctions”, particularly when people were giving the vehicles to their sons or daughters to drive. The RAC saw these auctions as a way of putting dangerous vehicles back onto the roads. Even if the cars are dirt cheap and passed all the necessary roadworthy testing, the RAC still had concerns about the vehicles safety in the event of an accident.

The TV report purchased two vehicles. The first being a Holden Commodore and the second car a Hyundai Excel. Both were 1990s models. For the show, the two were tested after purchase as you cannot test the vehicle before the auction. These vehicles are sold “as is”. It’s a risk, and that’s why they end up being the price they are. The history of the vehicles was unknown.

The cars were bought for around $850. The RAC as seen in the video then put the car under a braking test which failed. During the braking check, the car fishtailed. In a real situation fish tailing increases the odds of a rollover. The other test that was performed in the investigation was a 50 kilometer per hour lane change manoeuvre which, when done, the testing driver felt the vehicle was unstable to the point he felt it would roll.

The point the RAC was making as a caveat was not the vehicle’s make and manufacture but the unknown history of where the vehicles had been and how the owners had treated the vehicles. There is a real problem of the integrity of the chassis or vehicles airbag.

Have you bought a car at auction? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.

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