Used Car Private Sale Advantages and Disadvantages

February 13, 2012

Why do people buy use cars from private sellers instead of dealerships? Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of buying through an individual.

Sign For Private Sale

There are advantages and disadvantages to a used car private sale as opposed to shopping at a dealer's lot. Some car buyers always rely on a private sale, and others avoid these kinds of deals when possible. Here are some of the pros and cons of getting involved in a used auto deal directly with the seller.

Used Car Private Sale Advantages

  • Personal touches.One thing some drivers like about the private sale is that it has an informal, backyard feel. Cars are often bought right out of the seller's driveway, and viewed in their natural habitat. They can also talk directly to the original owner about any conditions or history on the vehicle, rather than talking to a dealer's rep who may not know the first thing about the vehicle in question
  • Simpler transactions. If you can pay for up front, the private sale may be the way to go. This is because so many modern dealers complicate the process with extra paperwork and a hard sell for extra guarantees on parts and labor, additional maintenance tools and services, or other sophisticated offers that some buyers don't care for

Used Car Private Sale Disadvantages

  • Lack of verification.To some buyers, a private sale can seem like something that goes on "under the table." As such, if they feel they don't trust the seller, they may have little recourse if they get involved in the deal with the down payment or other transaction. In contrast, a dealer's lot is a professional business where customers can feel more secure in handing over money or information
  • Questionable test drives.Some sellers, as well as some buyers, are not quite comfortable with a test drive and some private sale situations. That's because, again, in a private sale, there is no reputable shop involved, just a car owner and a potential buyer. The seller may be confused about insurance requirements for a test drive, as in some situations the test drive may not be fully covered. A dealership has ample insurance coverage for letting car shoppers test drive vehicles. Also, a dealer may feel safer to ride with than a stranger selling a car off the street
  • Lack of financing. Most drivers know they can't go to a private sale and expect any kind of financing. This is a specific service the dealerships provide. However, if a customer is willing to make most of the payment up front, they may be able to find third party lenders who will finance the balance in a private sale

Consider these benefits and drawbacks for going with a private sale on your next used car or truck.