Advantages of Buying a Used Car from a Dealer vs. Buying Privately

Advantages of Buying a Used Car from a Dealer vs. Buying Privately

Time to replace your car? Like millions of other Americans, you might be interested in purchasing a used vehicle instead of a brand new one. This is a simple way to save money and avoid potential issues associated with brand new models, such as undiscovered faults and recalls.

The latest cars from leading manufacturers may be advertised as must-have models packed with trendy features, but their hefty price tags are more than most of us can afford: research shows the average cost of a new car has now exceeded $31,000.

When you settle on buying a pre-owned vehicle, though, another choice remains: should you buy from a professional dealer or a private seller? Does it make much of a difference which you go for? It does, for there are numerous advantages to purchasing from a dealer. So, let’s take a look at the most important ones.

Dealers Will Provide a Detailed Vehicle History

Buying a used car is still a major investment, even though you’re making a huge saving compared to paying for a new model. You have to think carefully about the entire package presented by a seller and determine if the car is a smart purchase. Obvious questions to ask yourself include:

  • Does this car meet all of my needs?
  • Can I get to work and back, pick the kids up and carry groceries safely in it?
  • Will its fuel consumption be cost-effective for my budget?

However, another vital aspect to consider is its history. While a new car comes fresh from a manufacturer, pre-owned vehicles have been driven by one or more previous buyers or leasers for a number of years. If the car has been involved in accidents or undergone multiple repairs, you need to know about that.

While many private auto sellers are upfront with their vehicle’s history, unfortunately, not all are as honest as they should be. Some private sellers may only care about unloading their car and getting your money. They’re not regulated or subject to legal obligations like a professional dealer is and can simply gloss over the car’s past if they don’t want to disclose any important details. If you’re not careful, you could buy a used car that has experienced serious mechanical problems or even been written off as totaled by an insurance company. If you find out after the sale and try tracking the seller down for a refund, you may find they are untraceable.


With a registered professional used car dealership, you avoid all of this. They have an obligation to inform you of relevant details of a vehicle’s past, through a CarFax report or a similar service.

While a private seller may seem to be happy to provide an honest breakdown of the car’s history, you have no reason to believe they’re telling the truth. Dealers, on the other hand, have regulations to follow and their reputations to consider: one poor customer experience can have a significant negative impact on them. This is especially true today when dissatisfied buyers have review sites and social media through which to share their stories. The best dealerships will give you all the vehicle history information you request and ensure any accidents or repairs are fully disclosed.

Fund Your Purchase with In-house Financing Options

Financing a used car can be a challenge, especially when buying from a private seller. Why? Because the vehicle’s owner will expect all of the money in a single payment. This can take months upon months of saving up, which is often no easy feat with bills, mortgage or rent payments, children, pets and more devouring your hard-earned cash. Waiting so long may not be an option if you have an immediate need for a dependable vehicle for work or lifestyle commitments.

When you visit a trustworthy used car dealership, though, you will probably be offered in-house financing assistance with a fast approval. This is ideal if you have a low credit rating and need to secure an auto loan to fund your purchase, as banks are typically reluctant to lend to anyone with poor credit. In-house financing means your dealer will assess your situation, discuss your options and help you get a loan that works for your budget. This eliminates the stress of trying to scrape the money together for a car advertised by a private seller. It makes finding the right car at the right price much easier and offers the freedom to pay in installments. As a result, your entire purchase process will be far more pleasant. Ethical dealers tend to offer reasonable down payments too, making their services even more accessible to buyers on tight budgets.

Will Your Used Car Be Under A Warranty?

When you buy a used car from a private seller, you normally have no warranty. And no recourse if there turns out to be a problem with the car. This can be a problem because cars sold by private sellers are usually sold As-Is, and once you drive away, you’ll be on your own if anything goes wrong. Unscrupulous sellers may not even provide you with correct contact information, rendering them unreachable in the future. In either case, you would be looking at extra costs for any repairs or replacements on top of the purchase price.

Reputable used car dealers, on the other hand, normally include some type of warranty on their vehicles, giving you an extra level of protection and added peace of mind when you drive your vehicle away from the dealership. Providing their customers with warranties only helps to strengthen a dealer’s customer service and reputation. Post-purchase care means a lot to them but may mean nothing to private sellers.

Your Car Will Be Inspected by An Expert

The best-used car dealerships will have their vehicles inspected before putting them on sale. This is vital to identify any potential issues that must be addressed and to provide customers with all the essential details on their purchase. Any repairs or replacements necessary will be taken care of, essentially making aspects of the car as good as new in some cases. As a result, you can rest assured that you’re investing in a stable car that functions as it should.

Private sellers may conduct inspections and offer paperwork to prove it, but again, they’re under no obligation to do so. Even if a seller is not honest with you, it is usually very difficult to prove. Are you willing to take a chance and risk all that money? Certain private sellers might be unwilling to agree to have the vehicle inspected before you hand over your cash. They may even take offense and assume you’re questioning their integrity. And if you take the car for an inspection after the purchase has been completed, you could find it’s not actually fit for the road in its current condition, leaving you with a potentially unsafe vehicle that’s only going to cost you more money to repair.

Bigger Choice of Cars

Trying to find the right car for you can take weeks or months when browsing the private market. After all, the majority of private sellers are only selling one vehicle, not a whole selection to choose from. Visiting a used car dealership gives you access to far more choices, ranging from cars and trucks to SUVs and minivans.

If you have a fairly flexible budget and no clear idea of exactly what you’re looking for, exploring the variety of vehicles at your local dealership can be very helpful and certainly a big time-saver. You can scan through their online inventories or wander their lots and check out dozens of different options that will appeal to diverse tastes and demands.

You can spend hours weighing your choices and considering all the possibilities. Professional dealers will have more patience and training than private sellers too. They won’t rush you into deciding or handing over the cash; they’ll respect your right to take your time over such an important purchase.

The Power of The Buyers Guide

In almost every state, including the local tri-state area, used car dealers are obligated to provide customers with a copy of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Buyers Guide. This disclosure document gives you a wealth of helpful details, such as:

  • Information on the warranty
  • The vehicle’s major electrical and mechanical systems
  • Examples of potential problems to watch out for
  • Advice on researching the vehicle’s history

The Buyers Guide has to be placed in clear sight on a car available for sale, such as under the windshield wiper or taped to one of the windows. The Buyers Guide can be a major aid when purchasing a used car and is obviously unavailable from private sellers. If you have little knowledge or experience of buying vehicles, you could be unsure what questions to ask or what to look out for. A private seller solely interested in making easy money may choose to take advantage of this.

Professional Dealers Save You Time

When preparing to buy a used car from a private seller, you usually have to do your own research. After all, you’ll want to learn more about the model’s performance, features, potential flaws and more, gleaning information from other drivers’ reviews or manufacturer websites. As you might expect, this can eat up a lot of your free time — and if you don’t end up buying the car, you could consider this time wasted.

Professional dealers, on the other hand, have all the details ready for you. You can learn how suitable the car is, how it handles, what features it offers and other key factors within a few minutes of conversation. As a result, actually finding the ideal vehicle is far less time-consuming.

You’re Not Responsible for The Paperwork

You have to handle the paperwork when buying a used car from a private seller. Not only can this be confusing, especially if you’ve never had to do this before, but it takes time too. If you make a mistake or fail to file the proper documents, you could encounter issues down the road. Reputable dealerships will complete all or most of the paperwork for you during the transaction. They have experience filling the necessary forms in and getting you to sign on the right dotted lines. Your dealer will be happy to talk you through the paperwork and make sure you understand it all. Private sellers may not be so considerate.

You Can Explore a Dealership’s Reputation Online

Used car dealerships will have an online presence, which can take various forms. It may be a selection of testimonials from satisfied customers on their website, offering you an insight into how the dealership helped them get the right vehicle for their needs. It may be impartial and honest feedback on a review site, covering people’s own buying experiences with the business. Checking a dealership’s reputation is a terrific way to decide whether this team will be the right choice for you. Other people’s views can be a valuable resource and are well worth looking into before you visit.

Private sellers are extremely unlikely to have their own website or dedicated social media page. Tracing their history of vehicle sales and activities is much harder, and you have no real way to know how trustworthy they are. In most cases, you’ll be able to contact a used car dealer to discuss their selection of vehicles, financing, warranties and more by live chat, email or phone. The best dealerships invest in quality websites with a catalog of cars to peruse, letting you see what they have in the comfort of your own home.

As you can see, there are some undeniable advantages to buying your used car from a reputable professional dealership instead of a private seller. However, the decision is ultimately down to you, so take the time to think it through carefully.

At First Class Auto Land, our friendly team has years of experience helping people just like you find your ideal pre-owned vehicle at an affordable price. Take a look at our online inventory; every vehicle we sell has undergone a complete inspection and comes with a free warranty and Carfax Report. Want to learn more about our financing options: call to set up an appointment, or simply stop by and talk to one of our professional team members.