The Good and Bad of Vehicle Auctions in NYC

Coming back to a missing car can be a scary thing and the fees associated with a towed car can be even scarier. On top of that, you only have 72 hours to find your vehicle and either pay off your owed judgment debt or create a payment plan and retrieve your car from the tow lot. You can learn more about finding and claiming a towed vehicle on the NYC Department of Finance towed vehicle reclamation information page.

How Your Vehicle Can Get Towed

According to the City of New York, your vehicle can be towed for the following reasons:

  • You owe more than $350 or more in parking summons judgment debt
  • Double-parked car
  • Parked on a fire hydrant
  • Unpaid parking meter
  • Blocking an intersection or tunnel
  • Blocking a driveway

Your vehicle must be retrieved in person by you, your spouse, or an authorized representative, who has a notarized letter from yourself and the original title or registration. If your car is not picked up within 10 days, it will be auctioned off by the police department. You can pick up a towed vehicle on any day except major US holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Vehicle Auctions

So what happens if you don’t reclaim your vehicle in time, either by choice or by circumstance? After 72 hours, the auction process begins for a towed vehicle and a vehicle can be sold in as few as 10 days if a sale hold, which can be requested at any NYC Department of finance business center, is not made.

If you’re not the person whose vehicle is being sold (you can’t buy back your own vehicle), a towed vehicle auction can be a great way to get a vehicle at a discounted rate. Having a decent amount of car knowledge is recommended, however, as these vehicles are sold as is. Some allow vehicles to be towed simply because they’re not worth keeping, so don’t get caught with a bad deal.

You can learn more about the process and requirements of New York City vehicle auctions here.

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