Dealership Or Private? What To Know When Buying A Used Car

November 27, 2015

When looking to buy a used car, it is likely that you have heard both cautionary and happy-endings stories based on various individual’s experiences with buying a used car through a dealership or from a private seller. While each scenario does come with its own list of pros and cons – here are some facts relating to each type of vehicle sale, which will help you narrow down which option you are the most comfortable with

Dealership Sales

Leading off the pro-dealership category, is the fact that the consumer does not have to worry about being sold a damaged vehicle. Since there are rules in place to prevent this action – car dealers are required by law to only sell vehicles that meet a set of quality standards. This is not the case for vehicles that are sold privately, however.

Secondly, unlike private sellers, dealerships offer certain warranty guarantees to their customers. While private sellers should provide a well-documented and detailed vehicle history to potential buyers, this is not always the case and the absence of a warranty based on the vehicle’s past and current condition, is a definite downside to purchasing a used car outside the confines of a dealership.

Lastly, when buying a used car through a dealership, the dealer completes all of the paperwork pertaining to the transfer of vehicle ownership, in addition to suggesting vehicle financing options. Dealers can also arrange for you to trade in your older vehicle as a part of this process. Overall, there are certain services that dealers can provide that private sellers cannot, and the extra legwork that dealers take on, can definitely lighten the load for the customer.

Private Sellers

Perhaps one of the most appealing reasons for purchasing a used car from a private seller is the fact that you are more likely to pay a lot less. One of the reasons why buying a used car from a private party can be less expensive is because, unlike dealers, private sellers do not charge for extra services such as vehicle repairs, advertising, dealer commissions, as well as other administrative expenses. All in all, you pay for the price of the car, minus the ramped up price of these added costs and this can lower the price significantly.

Second of all, individuals who are selling privately are often more eager to sell their vehicle and will be more willing to let it go sooner for a lesser price versus holding out for a higher value. In this scenario, owners who have taken better care of their vehicles may opt for private sale instead of a dealer trade-in because they are looking to get more value from the sale, as opposed to what a trade-in deal would offer. This type of situation should provide buyers with a certain level of comfort and reassurance that the vehicle they are looking to buy is in good condition.

While, some used vehicles may not be in the best of shape, there are many private sellers who take pride in their cars and have maintained them over time. This is where a potential buyer should ask for the documented vehicle history before moving forward with the purchase. Overall, with solid vehicle history and a reasonable price, buying a used vehicle from a private party can be a positive experience.

On the whole, you are likely to spend the same amount of time and energy when buying a used car through a dealer or a private party. Either way, you will want to make sure the vehicle you are interested in buying passes a test drive, a rough inspection, as well as a profession inspection, if you are very close to making a purchase – particularly in the case of a private sale.

Overall, your goal should be to weigh the pros and cons that each method has to offer and use this information to guide you in the best direction possible. Making educated decisions is a valuable tool to possess, especially when it comes to big-ticket purchases – such as a car.

Next on your list will likely be the vehicle financing stage. At Canada Drives, we can help you navigate this part of the process. Relying on a network of reliable loan providers, we look beyond a perfect credit score to ensure you can obtain financing for your vehicle. We understand that this should be an exciting time and we are here to help you along the way.


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