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There are pros and cons to buying a car from either a dealer or a private seller. Here are a few of them.

Dealer-Purchased Vehicles:  Pros and Cons

In most instances a dealership is going to inspect a vehicle prior to selling it. The oil should be changed and unsafe tires should be replaced. Any defective belts or hoses should be replaced. Depending on the age of the vehicle, you may be eligible for a portion of the manufacturer’s warranty.

If you choose to buy a certified used car, you will have the security of knowing that the vehicle has gone through an extensive inspection and all recall issues have been corrected. Certified vehicles will also have an extended warranty available even if the original manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Many vehicles sold through reputable dealerships come with a vehicle history report.

On the downside, you will generally pay more for a vehicle bought at a dealership. You will also be dealing with personnel trained to part you from as much money as possible, so negotiating a comfortable price will be much harder. You can put yourself in a better bargaining position by compiling comps of other cars for sale in your area.

Privately-Purchased Vehicles:  Pros and Cons

The main advantage of buying from a private seller is to chance that you will not have to spend as much money. A private seller may not have as high an asking price and is usually less skilled at negotiating. This can be a prime opportunity; however, in most cases, lenders will not finance high-mileage vehicles bought from private sellers.

The downside to buying from a private seller are myriad. There are no warranties available and no guarantees of any kind. You will have to rely on yourself, but you can be prepared. Start by researching a reasonable price for the vehicle you are looking at. When you look at the vehicle, check for puddles on the ground or in the engine compartment. Look for worn belts and hoses. Check for uneven wear on the tires. Is one body part a different shade than the others? That is a usual sign of a past accident. These are especially points to inspect if you’re buying a car with a lot of miles.

Your best bet is to take the vehicle to a mechanic that you trust and have it inspected. While the mechanic is going over the car, pay for a vehicle history report. They are reasonably priced and are much less expensive than buying a junker if you can avoid it.


About the author: Jerry Coffey


Jerry Coffey is the financial expert here at A recovered "debtaholic," he now preaches frugal-living and sound money management here and at, where he is the chief contributor. He works for a major automaker.


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