Buying a Car: Dealer vs Private

There will come a time in most people’s lives where they will have to buy a car. This can and should be an exciting experience as there is a certain satisfaction in whittling the plethora of options down to one single model. When this is done though, there is still the arduous task of finding where to buy that car, and there will always be the option of buying privately or going to a dealership and purchasing the car there. Both these options have their advantages and disadvantages, but which is the best overall?

The first thing that a person should consider is their knowledge of cars, as this will inform the decision heavily. Whilst the hope is that most people who are selling their cars are decent, honest people, in reality, there are many unscrupulous people who want to earn some quick cash by offloading lemons and cars that need a lot of work done to them. A car enthusiast with a keen eye would be able to spot these issues though and potentially get a steal after negotiating, but for the average person, buying private always has the risk of being stuck with a problem car. A dealership is much safer as it is regulated, and they will generally take care of any known problems before selling the vehicle. There is also typically a warranty in place in case things go wrong. 

When thinking of buying a car, the debate can be boiled down to a simple fact – price. Dealerships are always concerned with maximising profits whereas a private seller will probably not be too concerned about getting as much money as possible for the car. As a result of these two approaches, it is likely that the same model car will cost more at a dealership than it would from a private seller. The price increase may sometimes be just as certain things are generally included with a car from a dealership such as a service, MOT and warranty, but this is not absolute across all cases. It may prove cheaper to buy the car privately and then add on all these features after. Private sellers do not have sales targets and so will have more leeway when negotiation on price. As aforementioned though, this does come with some risks. 

A final thing car buyers should consider is convenience. Both options have conveniences afforded to them, so it will be up to the buyer to decide which is best for them. Purchasing from a private seller may be more convenient as there is typically no pushy sales talk – the car is observed, driven, and a decision is made. Similarly, there is no waiting around for the car to be made ready; most private sellers will let the buyer drive away with the car as soon as it has been sold. On the other hand, dealerships offer services like part exchange which means money off the new car can be had by trading in an old one. Dealerships will also facilitate credit card payments which is a growing trend in industries like gambling, these casinos accept American Express, and provides another level of convenience.

Ultimately, whether a buyer chooses a dealership or private seller to buy their next car will depend on their personal situation including how convenient they want the process to be, how knowledgeable they are, and how much they want to spend.