Should I buy a used car from a private seller or car dealership?

By Kijiji Autos
Should I buy a used car from a private seller or car dealership?

When you’re buying a car, you need to consider whether purchasing from a dealership or a private seller is going to be most helpful to you. Our useful guide details the pros and cons of both to ensure you have the information you need to find a car that suits your functional and financial needs.

Private Sellers


Lower costs

More often than not, you’ll get a better price from a private seller than a used car dealership. While dealerships must sell at a profit, private sellers are typically more focused on a quick sale—especially if they’re buying a new car themselves. Also, a private sale doesn’t need to factor in the costs for things like commission fees, repairs and administration.


As private sellers tend to prioritize a speedy sale over making a profit, they’re usually more willing to negotiate. While car dealers may offer price reductions as an incentive, they’re limited by their overheads as to how low they can go.


Mechanical condition

When buying privately, you should always inspect the car yourself, ask for detailed vehicle history and consider getting the car’s condition assessed by an outside party. However, even with a well-documented report, it’s important to remember that private sellers aren’t obliged to meet the same standards as professional dealers, and you may not have all the information you need. They also won’t provide a warranty so you will be taking on the car as it is. If something goes wrong after the sale, you’ll have to pay for any repairs yourself.


If you have a specific model of car in mind, it will be easier to find one at a dealership than from a private seller. It all depends on the range of availability and how far you’re willing to travel for the right car.



Mechanical condition

Shopping at a car dealership means you can be confident of a high-quality vehicle, as dealers are legally bound to ensure their cars meet certain standards, and they must give you an accurate description of the car’s condition. Additionally, dealerships provide warranties with new cars so that if something goes wrong after your purchase, you can bring your car back to be fixed. Many dealerships will also inspect, repair and certify pre-owned vehicles, so they can be sold with an extended warranty, which can increase a car’s resale value.

More choice

You don’t have to buy used cars privately. Dealerships offer both used and second-hand vehicles with a wide selection of makes and models. Dealers can also sell you upgrades and add-on features if you want to customize your car.


Buying from a dealership reduces hassle on your end as the dealer can complete all the associated legal paperwork. They can also suggest various financing options. If you’re buying from a private seller, you’ll need to sort out the admin yourself, and you’ll most likely pay upfront.


Higher costs

The extra legwork carried out by a professional car dealer, as well as the guaranteed legal protection and mechanical standards, are reflected in the costs. You’re looking at a significantly higher asking price compared to a private seller, with not as much negotiating room.

Sales techniques

Unlike private sellers, professional car dealers have sales targets and quotas to meet. You may find you are being sold upgrades or more expensive cars that you don’t want or need, so it’s important to remember your preferences.

There are a lot of factors to consider here. For more help with your decision, check out Kijiji’s dealer ratings system to find out how customers have reviewed different dealerships.

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