Buying a Car from a Dealer vs a Private Party

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Buying a used car means you have a choice between heading down to the local dealership or buying from a private party. There are pros and cons to both methods. Here’s how to make the decision about which is the right buying method for you.

Buying from a Dealer


They Handle The Paperwork

Buying from a dealership means they’ll prepare all the paperwork from the title transfer to the bill of sale to the registration. You don’t have to worry about forgetting anything or about filling it out wrong. The dealer knows exactly what needs to be done and will get it done right.

Used Car Warranties

Many dealerships offer used car warranties to provide peace of mind on top of ensuring their cars have been through an official inspection process. If something does go wrong, a used car warranty means you car doesn’t come with unexpected repair bills.

Easier Financing

You can look for a loan directly through the bank, but dealerships also offer financing on their used vehicles. This is an attractive option since it saves you time having to check on rates with banks on your own. It’s also more difficult to get financing if you go through a private seller as many banks won’t offer financing on used car sales at all.

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Higher Prices

Dealerships have overhead like buildings and employees so they aren’t going to offer the same deal as a private seller. A dealer needs to make a profit so there’s a point where they simply cannot go any lower on their price. You’ll end up paying a bit more when you buy through a dealership.

The Temptation of Other Cars

A dealership is going to have more than one used car on the lot and you may be tempted by other choices. Make sure you have a budget in mind and stick to it if a savvy salesman tries to sell you what he wants to sell and not what you want to buy.

Buying from a Private Party


Better Pricing

Private sellers are often more flexible in their pricing and set their prices lower in the first place. If the seller is anxious to get rid of their car and needs the cash, then you may be able to negotiate a very good deal.

Less Pressure

The seller wants to get rid of his car, but he’s not trying to hit a quota or make his boss happy. There won’t be the same pressure to buy, nor will he try to keep you interested by offering another car at a similar price. Buying from a private seller means avoiding high-pressure sales tactics.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listings search here.


No Warranty

A private seller won’t be including a warranty with your purchase so any repairs that pop up are going to be your responsibility. This makes it crucial to have the car inspected by a mechanic you trust prior to the sale to ensure there was nothing intentionally or accidentally left out by the seller.

Doing the Paperwork

Any paperwork needs to be handled by you and the seller. It’s a good idea to check with your local DMV to make sure you have everything you need before you show up to register your car. If anything is wrong, it’s your responsibility to follow-up with the seller at his convenience to make sure you have everything you need.

Deciding whether to buy from a dealership or a private seller depends on what makes you comfortable. Consider the pros and cons of each method and go with the one that works best for you and your needs.