Looking at Cars from Private Sellers vs Dealerships

used honda accord

Our car hunt continues – last week we saw a few and this week looks to be even busier. We have an appointment to check a car out tonight – it’s with a private seller and the ad for the car looks promising. We’re taking our time with this – we want to be excited about this next car, so it has be quite the deal.

In case you’re curious we are looking at buying from either a private seller or dealership. I know most people have a strong preference for either, but we’re open to find a solid deal, so we’ll consider both.

What We’re Seeing with Car Dealerships used honda accord

Basically we are seeing cars in our price range and mileage requirement at various dealerships. The bigger ones tend to have higher prices for similar inventory than the smaller outfits. With all we use services like CarFax to see if we’re getting a reliable car or if it’s a possible lemon.

Negotiating price is a bit harder, but possible. I will note that the internet price that we’ve seen with some cars can be quite different than what they offer at the dealership. We went to one place that had a car listed around $11k. We took it for a test drive and then sat down with the salesman to get some numbers. He went back to ‘work out a deal’. What was funny was that the base price was $2,000 over the interenet price, not counting the other fees tacked on!

When my husband pointed out that the site has a lower price the guy seemed surprised and came back with a lower offer.

Private Sellers – Bigger Risk Bigger Reward?

Actually if you’re pretty through with shopping around for cars, buying a car from a private seller can be a great financial move. According to Carsabi, if you’re shopping for a Toyota Corolla on Craigslist you can save around $2,800 compared to dealership prices. That savings could be used as part of your car fund or you can allocate that towards other financial goals.

Again, we’re using CarFax to make sure the car has a clean title and hasn’t been in any major accidents. We have a list of questions prepared for owners to get a better sense of the car’s condition and the owners’ maintenance of the vehicles. Believe it or not, this is actually the fun part – trying out different cars!

Thoughts on Buying a Used Car

I would say the biggest advantage of getting a used car from the dealership is if you’re dealing with a certified used car versus one from a private seller. Depending on the price difference, the certified used car is usually the way to go. However from what I’ve seen the dealerships definitely put a premium on the certified cars, so run the numbers to see if the higher costs are worth that peace of mind.

How about you? How many of you are looking at buying cars in the near future? What are you looking for? Do you prefer to shop at dealerships or with private sellers and why?

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