Buying from a Dealer vs Private Party

Buying from a Dealer vs Private Party

Buying from a Dealer vs Private Party
Reading Time: 6 minutes

It’s no secret that the car buying process includes numerous decisions to pull off a successful purchase. Since the expensive sticker prices on most modern vehicles will often be a significant investment, heading into a sale without proper research can lead to financial devastation. You must be meticulous to avoid purchasing an automobile with existing problems or one that’s out of your price range. Limit the risks of damaging your financial future by understanding what you’re buying and ensuring that you trust the person who is selling.

In addition to determining a suitable model, creating a budget, and ensuring the ride is mechanically sound, one must decide where to complete the transaction. Buyers typically face two options — purchase from a dealer or a private party. Each entity provides a unique set of advantages and challenges that can improve or decline the experience. 

Before you make a decision that causes buyer’s regret or a regression with your car loan, learn the pros and cons of navigating the purchase with either a dealer or an individual. 

Buying From a Dealership

Buying from a local dealership is a secure way to purchase a vehicle as well as an extended warranty protecting a used model. One of the most significant drawbacks has long been the time it takes to walk around the lot, test drive different options, and sit down for financing and paperwork. 

The process can often take an entire day, exhausting the buyer and leading to poor decisions. Fortunately, modern technology has improved the experience. It allows potential purchasers to connect with salespeople to discuss terms and available vehicles via email or text. In many cases, you won’t visit the dealership until it’s time to pick up the keys and finalize the required legalities. 

Here is some more information to consider about buying from a dealership. 

The Good

One of the greatest advantages of purchasing a vehicle from a dealer is the outlet you have if something goes wrong once you have the keys. Most dealerships offer a short window guarantee that ensures mechanical issues will be resolved or allow the vehicle to be returned if you’re dissatisfied. Another option is obtaining an extended warranty during the buying process that covers numerous repairs that often occur as mileage and model years increase. 

Certified Pre-Owned

When looking for a used vehicle, ask about the dealership’s certified pre-owned program. An automobile must pass a thorough multi-point inspection, meet mileage restrictions, and have a clean history to qualify. These cars and trucks offer peace of mind for buyers who desire a quality vehicle that won’t incur expensive repair fees shortly after the purchase. 

Financing Options

While many buyers seek financing from a lender with whom they already have a relationship, a dealership can provide options for those who can’t achieve a traditional loan. Finance managers on the lot have solid connections with banks and credit institutions throughout the country; they can often find suitable terms, even if your credit score isn’t in ideal condition. For many, a car loan is a great way to initially build credit or improve credit integrity after a detrimental history. 

Reputation is On the Line

Local dealerships rely on positive customer relationships to stay afloat. Most representatives aren’t bashful to ask buyers to review the business online and discuss their experience. That’s excellent news when you’re researching local lots to make a purchase. Check out their digital reputation on review sites, social networking pages, and search engines. While reading through actual customer responses, pay attention to how a dealership responds to negative feedback. A reputable business will be eager to resolve the issue and invite the customer back to work on a solution. 

The Bad

While buying from a dealership has many perks, the process may not suit everyone. If you aren’t comfortable on the lot, don’t hesitate to leave and find another vendor who better accommodates your needs. Here are some disadvantages of dealerships and warning signs to watch for during the buying experience. 

Low Trade-In Offers

When buying a car, your trade-in can be used as negotiation power. Unfortunately, dealerships are notorious for making low-ball offers compared to what you could make by selling to an individual. Don’t take it personally; it’s just a part of the business. The company must cover expensive overheads such as mechanic fees, building upkeep, and inventory flow. However, you can go into a buying experience with more confidence by checking your vehicle’s value online to discover if the offer is worth entertaining or negotiating. 

Pushy Sales Tactics

Car salespeople make their living by selling, so it’s no secret that they may engage in tactics that push you into a poor investment. The solution to combat an uncomfortable experience is to ask for another representative or visit a different dealership. Before visiting the lot, you must know exactly what you’re looking for, be firm on your price range, and avoid being enticed into extravagant features that don’t fit your budget. 

Buying From a Private Party

In some cases, buying a vehicle from a private party can save big bucks on your dream car. However, you must proceed with caution, as individual sellers have less on the line than dealerships when it comes to customer satisfaction and abiding by local laws.

The Good

An attractive aspect of buying from a private seller is the price tag. In many cases, an individual has already purchased a new car and rather than using their previous ride as a trade-in, it hits the market to gain a higher monetary return. This often means extra negotiation room and a better chance of finding an excellent deal on a new-to-you vehicle. 

A Wider Variety

Buying from a private party means a broader variety of available vehicles than browsing the inventory of a single lot. Potential buyers can find numerous models, trim levels, and conditions when utilizing online classifieds, word-of-mouth referrals, and niche forums. Take the time to search in your local area and be prepared to travel out-of-town to find the vehicle you have in mind. 

The Bad

While saving money is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s critical to avoid buying from a seller you can’t trust. Before considering a purchase, you should be diligent about researching the vehicle’s VIN to understand its history involving accidents, flooding, or significant mechanical issues. With the vehicle identification number in hand, don’t forget to check its value on appraiser websites to ensure it isn’t overpriced.

Perform an Inspection

You should also consider hiring a licensed mechanic to perform an inspection before agreeing to a purchase. Even a vehicle that’s in good shape cosmetically may not have received timely maintenance to the engine and other critical components, which can lead to an early failure.

If you don’t have access to someone who is familiar with a vehicle’s operation, you can still do your own inspection to find noticeable irregularities. Let the motor idle for about 30 minutes, and watch for these signs that something is amiss. 

  •     Listen for odd noises from inside and while walking around the vehicle. 
  •     Watch the temperature gauges for fluctuations and overheating. 
  •     Look underneath the body for leaks that are not produced by the air conditioning. 
  •     Test heating and air functions and other dials inside the cabin. 
  •     Engage all working lights, including turn and stop bulbs.

If issues are discovered, be prepared to negotiate the asking price or walk away if the problems seem too severe. 

Safety Risks

When arranging a meeting with a private seller, make sure the interaction occurs during the day and in a public place. Hopefully, the exchange goes as intended, but remember, you’re visiting a stranger who may not have the best intentions in mind. Bring along a friend for extra security. 

No Warranty

Let’s face it: Vehicles sold by dealerships or private parties alike will all face problems eventually. The downside of buying from an individual is that the car is sold on an “as-is” basis. This means that once failure occurs, the expenses to resolve the issues fall on the buyer — you. Before buying a used car, truck, or SUV, check the labour and part costs for common problems such as brake replacements, general maintenance, and significant overhauls. While a luxury vehicle may seem like an excellent commute companion, the price of upkeep may be more than you were expecting. 

Weighing Your Options

Regardless the path you choose when purchasing a used vehicle, it’s critical to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each course. 

Buying a car should not be a snap decision; avoid going into it thinking that it will be quick and easy. Go into it knowing that you, the buyer, must do your homework—at home (determine your needs and boundaries before arranging a meeting), while viewing and testing the vehicle (interview individual sellers about issues and be wary of dealership sales tactics), and after a meeting (research the VIN, value, other sellers). Buyers should be thorough, not easygoing.

On the other hand, dealerships streamline the process of legal paperwork and financing while providing the opportunity to purchase a certified pre-owned model. Keep in mind, however, that the peace of mind from purchasing a vehicle that has undergone inspection will cost you. The price tag will reflect the time and labour the dealer has invested in preparing the auto for market.  

The most essential aspects of a decision depend on who has the vehicle you want. If you’re fortunate enough to have time to look around, check out options on each side of the industry.


Money-Saving Resources

How to Buy a Car with Bad Credit?
Which Is More Important When Buying a Used Car: Mileage or Age?
A Guide to Selling Your Car
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