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Should I Buy a Car from a Dealer or a Private Seller? - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

If you’re beginning your car-shopping adventure, I’m sure you’ve spent time contemplating, “Do I go with a car dealership or a private seller?” This is the question my dad, Marshall, faced earlier this month. With a dead car in his driveway and limited time to make the decision, he considered both avenues. As fearless car-shopping partners, here are some of the observations my dad and I made:

Benefits of Buying from a Private Seller

  • Private sellers are more motivated to sell and therefore are often more open to negotiate a lower sale price.
  • Private sellers may be willing to sell their car for significantly less than the National Automobile Dealer’s Association (N.A.D.A.) listed value. This may be due to ignorance or lack of research on the seller’s part, but either way, it could be your gain.
  • Often buying from a private seller means the car was owned by only one or two previous owners. And fewer owners can translate into less wear and tear on the car.
  • When interviewing private sellers, it’s easy to find those who have invested time and money into taking proper care of the car, whereas the maintenance history is typically a mystery when buying from a dealership.
  • Buying from a private seller allows you to avoid annoying sales pressure from multiple salespersons.
  • Buying from a private seller also allows you to escape sales hype and “hot deals” that dealerships tend to promote. (Here’s where I should mention that my dad bought a car about six years ago from a car dealer who sold him a car with a broken gas gauge. Despite the dealer’s “great deal” story, it had its problems!)

Benefits of Buying from a Car Dealership

  • A car dealership often provides the option to purchase an extended warranty.
  • Larger dealerships typically stand behind the car if you have to bring it back within a short period of time due to problems.
  • Dealerships allow you to browse a large and diverse car inventory.
  • Many buyers have peace of mind when shopping at a dealership because of name recognition.
  • Sometimes buying from a car dealer allows you to have access and discounted rates at the dealership’s service shop.
  • Dealerships often offer the option to use in-house loan financing.

When trying to decide between the two, you have to consider which better fits your preferences and financial situation. Like anything in life, both have their pros and cons. If you’d like to share some other pros and cons, please share!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Not so much who you buy from . As it is to pay attention and use due diligence BEFORE you purchase. Have professional pre-purchase inspection done gives you peace of mind and save money in long run, usual cost $100 – $125. Even most mechanics don’t know how to inspect for Frame damage.
    Purchase from Dealer gives you recourse after purchase as all Dealers must be Insured and Bonded. Most Dealers large and small are concerned with customer satisfaction, for repeat business and referrals. Look for a Dealer that’s been around for a long time, as cons and scammers don’t last in this business.
    I buy from individuals expecting to spend money for repairs, as most people selling are not willing to spend on something they are getting rid of, not that they’re being dishonest. That’s okay as long as price accommodates for unexpected repairs.
    I would not buy New ever, simply too much savings in taking advantage of depreciation by being 2nd owner.

  2. Unless you are buying from the original or second owner of a car, buying from a private owner can land you in a money pit. Buying from a dealer, if it’s a new car is typically the best way to go as used cars are, as you stated, a mystery when it comes to the prior owner’s history. If in a pinch and needing a vehicle quicker and have the idea of negotiating, private sellers are best. There are definitely pros and cons with both options.

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