Home / Used Car Tips / Should You Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Should You Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Should You Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller GetMyAuto

If you’re looking to get the best possible value on your next vehicle, buying it used is generally the way to go. More specifically, we recommend buying from a reputable used car dealership, where you can get a great car for a low price, and also enjoy some key consumer protections.

Buying from a private seller, though it may seem attractive at first, comes with some potential pitfalls. Here are some reasons why buying a used car from an individual may not always be the smartest move.

The Problems with Buying from a Private Seller

  • There could be a major problem with the vehicle. This may be an obvious point, but it’s worth stating it clearly: Most people sit on their car until it would actually cost more to fix it than to buy a new one, and then they decide to sell. That used car you’re buying from a private seller, then, could need some serious and costly work.
  • Private sales don’t have the same consumer protections. California’s lemon laws and similar consumer protections apply only to sales through dealerships. When you buy from a private seller, there’s no such safety net in place.
  • A dealership will provide you with a complete vehicle history. By contrast, getting a vehicle history from a private seller can be a little tougher, and you may actually have to pay to run the report yourself.
  • A used car dealership cares about repeat business. Word of mouth, online reviews, customer satisfaction—these things are all important for dealerships, but not so much for private sellers. As such, there’s really no guarantee that your experience with a private seller would be particularly positive.
  • It’s hard to follow up with a private seller. Need to get in touch with the seller with questions, or to ask where the owner’s manual is, or anything else? Well, getting back in touch with your seller may prove difficult—and frankly, they have no obligation to take your calls.
  • The seller may not know much about cars. Have questions about the vehicle? Well, a private seller may not know anything more about it than you do. Buying from a dealership, meanwhile, helps you make a well-informed purchasing decision.
  • With private sellers, scams abound. Finally, just be aware that when you buy from a private party, there’s not much you can do to be sure the car isn’t stolen—and that can obviously prove problematic down the line.

Connect with a Trustworthy Dealership

As you seek the best deal on your next vehicle, consider a reputable and trustworthy dealership over a private seller. We can connect you with a great dealership near you. Reach out to Get My Auto to start your used car search today.