Guest post by Amy from Raising Arrows
With the birth of our son in 2009, we noticed our little minivan was quickly becoming too crowded for comfort. Our five-foot tall 11-year-old was squished between two car seats and cargo space was virtually nonexistent.
As we searched for a larger vehicle, it became apparent 12- and 15-passenger vans cost a pretty penny — which we didn’t have. With our determination to stay out of debt, we put the idea of up-sizing our vehicle on the back burner and continued to squeeze children into our minivan.
Then, in August of 2009, a friend of ours who owns a small used car lot, informed us of a GSA auction in Omaha, Nebraska with several 15-passenger vans available.
GSA stands for General Services Administration, which is a specific entity of the US Government that handles the acquisitions for other agencies within the federal government. When you purchase GSA vehicles, you are purchasing vehicles that were owned by the federal government and used in specific government agencies. These auctions, where used government vehicles are sold off, are always open to the public. Because government vehicles are regularly maintained, they tend to be in first-rate condition, which relieves a lot of the stress of buying a used vehicle.
GSA auctions are hosted by various car auction companies, such as Manheim. Not every state has GSA auctions, but the savings you encounter buying vehicles this way is well worth the trip out of state.
You can find an auction near you here. Once on the site, you will be able to see all the vehicles up for auction.
Two ways to bid on GSA vehicles
The first is to go in person to the auction. Many auction sites require the bidder to put money down in order to obtain a bidder number. This is refundable if you don’t buy anything. You will be able to look over the vehicle, turn over the engine and put it in gear, but not test drive it.
The second way to buy is online; however this requires you to have a dealer’s license or know someone who does. We went this route through our friends who own a used car lot as well as the online auction bidding business named CarCo.
When bidding online, the auto auction company provides pictures and specifications on the vehicle, as well as any problems or repairs that have been made. The dealer then bids remotely during the live auction. CarCo charges a fee to bid on your behalf, but once again, the deals you can find at these auctions make the fee well worth it.
If you win the auction, there will be a buyer’s fee and a time limit as to when you must pick up the vehicle with cash in hand. The auto auction company will provide you a with a certificate to obtain a title.
The GSA 15-passenger van we purchased was a maroon 2002 Chevy with 46,000 miles on it. It was in tip-top condition, and only cost us $8900 total, fees included. Purchasing through a GSA auction proved to be the answer to our prayers!
Amy is the homeschooling mother of six living children and a precious daughter named Emily being held in the Lord’s arms. She strives to offer a candid and honest look at homeschooling and daily life in a larger-than-average family. You can read more of her struggles and successes in bringing blunt-edged babes to finely sharpened arrows on her blog Raising Arrows.
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