If you’re in the market for a used vehicle, you may be wondering the best place to go. You can either go to a dealership or look for a private seller for a used car. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so it’s up to you to do some research and decide what's best.

Pros and Cons of Buying from a Dealer

Should I Buy from a Dealer or Private Seller?Pros:

  • Dealer does the paperwork – The dealership will make sure everything is signed and properly taken care of so you won’t need to worry about any of that.
  • Financing options – You’ll be able to see what financing options a dealer can offer you and compare to other lenders.
  • Service contract – Depending on the dealer and vehicle, in many cases, a service contract is available.
  • Certified options – Only franchise dealers can offer certified pre-owned used cars with a manufacturer-backed warranty or extended service contract.
  • Vehicles are inspected – Typically, used vehicles on dealers’ lots are inspected and detailed, although you should still have it inspected by an ASE Certified Master Mechanic and body specialist.


  • Less room for negotiation – The biggest drawback to buying a car at a dealer is the lack of room for negotiation. Prices will also typically be a little higher, so you may not get as good a deal.

Pros and Cons of Buying from a Private Seller


  • Asking price is below book value – Private sellers often put their asking price at something that's slightly less than the “book value” from vehicle valuation sites such as NADA.
  • Able to negotiate price – It’s sometimes easier to negotiate a price point with a private seller.


  • No service contract – If you want extra coverage past the original warranty, you’ll need to purchase a service contract from a third-party provider yourself.
  • Need to have the car inspected – In order to make sure the vehicle you’re buying is safe, you need to have it inspected by an ASE Certified Master Mechanic and body specialist.
  • Paperwork needs to be sorted out – There’s nobody to handle all the paperwork. So, you and the seller will need to make sure everything is signed and complete – which can take awhile.

Bottom Line

It’s up to you to decide if you want to buy a vehicle from a dealer or a private seller. Both have advantages and disadvantages. If you decide a dealership is right for you, but you don’t know where to start, let us help.

Auto Credit Express specializes in helping car buyers with bad credit find dealerships that know how to handle special finance. We work with a nationwide network of dealers that know how to handle unique credit situations. We'll work to match you with a dealership in your area if you start the process by submitting our free and secure car loan request form online.