Auction procedure: Registered tow truck operators

See what you must do before, during, and after holding auctions for abandoned vehicles.

Requirements for registered tow truck operators

When auctioning abandoned vehicles, you must follow the rules below.

Advance notice

  • Publish a notice 3 to 10 days before the auction
  • If the bidding site is different than the licensed office location, post a visible sign at your office with the details of the auction location
  • Hold auctions during daylight hours on normal business days
  • Post the following at the bidding site:
    • The auction procedures
    • The newspaper ad listing the vehicles for sale

Public viewing period

Let potential bidders see your vehicles before the auction:

  • If you're auctioning 25 or fewer vehicles, allow a 1-hour viewing period
  • If you're auctioning 26 to 49 vehicles, allow a 2-hour viewing period
  • If you're auctioning 50 or more vehicles, allow a 3-hour viewing period

Auction and bidding rules

  • Give everyone there equal time and opportunity to bid
  • Use an open bid process and include all written bids so everyone knows the dollar value they must exceed
  • If you choose to allow pre-auction bid methods or written bids:
    • They may be submitted up to 5 days before the auction
    • They must identify the specific vehicle and bid amount
  • If you choose to bid at the auction, you must disclose your bid and may not use it to set a minimum for other bids

Winning bids

  • Record the 2 highest bids in writing
  • If the highest bidder defaults, allow the next bidder to buy the vehicle for their bid amount

Requirements for bidders

All bidders must be at the auction unless they have submitted written bids (if pre-auction written bids are allowed). The winning bidder must apply for a title within 15 days unless the law states otherwise.

Related laws

Need additional help? Here's how to contact us:

call Phone: 360-705-6741
(TTY: Call 711)
fax Fax: 360-705-6699
mail Email:
Was this information helpful?