Dealership or private sale?

Buying from a dealership or from a private individual are both options when you're in the market for a second hand car

If you’re looking for a second-hand car, there are pros and cons to both options – buying from a dealership or from a person who is selling a car privately.

Buying a car from a dealership


  • When you buy a car through a dealership, they take a lot of the admin out of the equation by handling the paperwork related to finance, transferral of ownership etc.
  • The car will also have gone through an inspection and roadworthiness test, so the dealership needs to tell you about anything that’s wrong with the car upfront. By law they also need to make sure that the car isn’t stolen or illegal in any way.
  • The dealership may allow you to trade your old car as part of the deposit or to settle your outstanding debt on the vehicle.
  • Extended warranties and other helpful products are usually offered, which can be helpful in the long term. Also, most dealerships offer a limited guarantee, which means that they will fix certain things that go wrong in a specified time period.


  • The car is likely to cost more than if you bought it straight from the seller, because the dealership needs to add a markup to what they paid for it.
  • Dealers sometimes pressurise you into buying before you’re ready so you could end up biting off more than you can chew.


Buying a car privately


  • Cars sold privately can be a bit cheaper and the sellers are often willing to negotiate the price, so you could end up with a bargain.
  • Because you’re also dealing directly with the seller, who is most likely also the person who drove it, you can ask about how the car has been used (e.g. short trips three times a week vs. long trips every day) and whether it’s been in any accidents.


  • Some banks won’t provide financing for a private deal, especially for an older car, so you may need to save up the cash.
  • You’re responsible for doing the background checks to make sure the car is roadworthy, and not stolen, a rebuild or an illegal import. You’re also the one who needs to do all the paperwork to register the car in your name.
  • Unfortunately the chance of being scammed is high when buying a car privately. Be smart about which ads you respond to and where you meet to view the car. Never go alone and always meet in a public place.


The bottom line is that there are advantage and disadvantages to both options. Where you choose to buy your car really depends on where you find the one you want.

Whether privately or through a dealer, take care to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible and that your dream car doesn’t turn into a nightmare.


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