Should I Buy a Used Car from the Dealer or a Private Seller?

2016-Toyota-Corolla-2The process of buying a new car often leads to many questions, with one of the first being “should I buy from a dealer or a private party?” This is the question you need to answer before you start shopping. To help you make a more informed decision, check out the following list of pros and cons.


One of the scariest things about buying a used car is the unknown issues. You could visit a private party and thoroughly look over a car, but without having it checked out by a mechanic, you might miss something important. However, dealerships are held to strict regulations. This means that unlike a private party who can sell you a car “as is” and not have to answer to problems that surface, a dealership has stringent regulations and policies that protect the consumer.


You may not be in the market for a new car, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice car warranties. In fact, if you choose to buy from a dealership, you can ask what warranty options they offer. On the other hand, a private party sale offers no guarantees nor warranties.


Not all people looking for a new car have the funds readily available and can pay cash up front. With that in mind, financing needs to be sought out. If you are shopping at a dealership, auto financing takes place in the same place as the car shopping. However, if you are buying from a private party, you will need to go directly to the bank and hope that the seller will wait for financing to come through.


Pricing on used cars can be tricky. When you have a private party selling a car, the value of the car is set by one individual who is often flexible within a range. However, when you shop for a used car at a dealership, you have to negotiate with a company who is stricter with pricing and typically less flexible. In reality, it comes down to whether price or benefits tops your priority list.


It can take time to find the right used car, time that you may or may not have. If you choose to shop via private party, you need to plan for searching through advertisements, calling owners, and arranging times to see and drive possible purchases. However, if you shop at a dealership, you can often spend all the time you need at one location looking over multiple cars until you find the best fit.

Sales Pitches

Dealerships often offer great sales, and their employees are motivated to push those bargains on customers. Although there can be many great prices that come out of these sales, the pitching of sales can be very annoying. This is probably one of the biggest plusses to shopping private party. A private party seller advertises their car with a price, and if you are interested, you inquire.

Every decision comes with pros and cons, and hopefully listing them out will help you make the best decision.