Buying a used car – Dealer or Private Seller?

If you are on the looks to buy a used car, you have two main options to choose from: either purchase it from a dealer, or from a previous owner. But which of these two options is better? While this depends on the seller itself and on what you are looking for in a car, there are some things you need to take into consideration before making this decision.


Both private sellers and dealers can have their own financial advantages, if you take the time and think things through. On the first glance, it might look more expensive to buy from a dealer, rather than form a private seller, but this is usually due to the costs that dealers have to cover in order to run their business. Typically, if you buy a car from a dealer, chances are they already took care of inspections and repairs, which guarantees you get a car that does not have any significant issues. Dealers also take care of drive-away price tags and they offer warranties imposed by the state, in order to protect you from major issues.

When it comes to buying a car from your friend or neighbor, you need to take care of the inspection yourself and make sure you are getting what you paid for. On the other hand, when it comes to private sellers, you have a bit more room to negotiate the price and get a good deal, especially if the seller is not a car expert.


Vehicle History

When you purchase a car from a private seller, there is a big chance that they know the especially if they are the first owner, there is a big chance they know exactly what has happened to the car until now. This is a big advantage, especially because dealers go through thousands of cars each year and they have no possible way of knowing all the ins and outs of every car they sell.

If you want to be sure about the entire car history, you can always do a VIN lookup. The VIN number tells you exactly if the car has been involved in an accident, manufacturer details and other production information. No matter where you buy the car from, doing a lookup will save you the trouble of having to deal with unwanted obligations later on.


Trust and Reputation

Wanting to get the best possible deal when buying a used car is important, but knowing exactly what you are driving home with is paramount. With dealers, you can verify their reputation through various methods, such as social media and reviews. With private owners, on the other hand, you don’t really have many options to verify if they can be trusted or not. But while you can be sure of the safety of the car, dealers do have a habit of charging for some things that you don’t necessarily need, such as roof racks or rustproofing.

Private sellers sometimes don’t have the means to guarantee the good condition of the car, so even if the seller charges a fair price for the car, you still need to do your own check ups and see if there is any form of issue hiding under the hood. Even if you know the seller and trust them, chances are the car might be having problems they don’t even know about. Make sure to do a proper inspection and evaluation and let the seller know if you find any issues. Maybe they are willing to offer you a good deal.

Variety of Options

If you know exactly the model you are looking for, then things are much easier and you can simply choose the seller that offers you the best deal. But if you only know you want a car that fist in a certain price range, then a dealer might give you more options to choose from with less fuss. You don’t want to be spending weeks on the internet looking at private options, when you can simply visit some showrooms and get things done in a matter of days. Dealers also offer a variety of add-ons and options that you can choose from, to customize your car and turn it into the vehicle of your dreams.

When it comes to private sellers, it can be hard to find a specific model, especially if you are only looking in your area. Plus, if you want to make any upgrades, you will have to take care of those yourself or find a car service.



One of the biggest advantages of buying a car through a dealer is the fact that you have multiple options to pay for it. Private sellers usually require upfront cash when you close the deal. If you have good credit scores, you may be able to qualify for a personal loan, but other than that, you will still have to round up the rest of the money yourself.

With dealers, you get a variety of payment options to choose from, including car loans, if you make the purchase through a reputable dealer. If you don’t want to get involved with the bank, you can still choose from the payment plans that dealers offer, including leasing or in-house financing.



No matter where you choose to buy a used car from, always make sure to test-drive it before making any decision. If possible, make sure to check all the functions of the care on the test. This includes air conditioning, windows and locks, lights, brakes, as well as highway performance. Anybody with good intentions will allow you to test the car for any issues you might be suspecting.

If the seller is reluctant to let you test certain aspects of the vehicle’s functionality, you might want to think twice before doing business with them, as they might be hiding some issues they don’t want you to find out about. Don’t hesitate to ask the seller if you discover anything that might look sketchy. For example, if you decide to purchase a low-mileage used vehicle, but the gas and brake pedals or the floor of the car looks too worn out, it might be a sign that the seller frauded the odometer to show a lower mileage.


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