Pros and Cons of Buying from a Private Seller

Shopping for a new car is fun and exciting. 😃 However, you have to be prepared to make a number of important decisions. For example, what’s the make and model of the car that suits your needs best? What’s your budget? Will you pay with cash or get car finance? Should you buy from a dealer or a private seller? These are some of the questions you’ll be asking yourself during the process of buying a car. In this post, we'll focus on the pros and cons of buying a car from a private seller. Let’s begin!

Buying a Car from a Dealer

Let’s first take a look at the pros and cons of purchasing a vehicle from a dealer so we can compare them to buying from a private seller. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy if you buy from a car dealer:

  • The cars sold at dealerships are checked to be sure there are no issues. Also, the vehicles are serviced properly before you buy.
  • There are plenty of different cars to look at if you buy at a dealership. 
  • You can be sure about the car having a clean title and other important paperwork. 
  • Car buyers have the choice to purchase a warranty - some dealers will issue a 12-month warranty for free.  
  • If the car you bought from a dealer proves to have issues, you may return it within a given period. 
  • Since dealerships have their own spaces where they keep the vehicles, it’s much easier for you to browse and inspect the cars up close. 

While all these advantages of buying from a car dealer are awesome, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. For example, you might find that the prices of cars being sold at a dealership are higher compared to those from a private seller. Also, you need to be ready to spend the whole day purchasing a car from a dealer because it’s going to take some time. 

Buying a Car from a Private Seller

Sometimes, car buyers get lucky and spot a vehicle they like almost instantly. If you’ve already found the right car and it’s being sold by an individual, one of the major advantages is that you can talk to the owner of the vehicle.

Ask about the history and maintenance of the car, as well as the reason why they’re selling it. You’ll be able to know more details about the vehicle since you can ask all the questions you have before deciding to make the purchase.

Once you’ve decided, another benefit you can enjoy from buying a car from a private seller is that you can haggle and get a better price compared to purchasing from a dealer. Once you both have agreed on the price, the sales process usually lasts within just an hour. 

Private sellers are more open to haggling but it depends on a lot of factors, including their situation, your negotiating skills, and of course, the condition of the vehicle. At a dealership, you might get a small discount but generally, they might not be as flexible on the final price.  

Buying a car from a private seller sounds great but you should also be aware of the cons. Two of the most important things to remember is that you won’t have access to a warranty and you won’t be able to return the car in case there’s a problem with it. 

If you’re not very confident about your knowledge of cars, you may ask an auto mechanic to check the vehicle. They can give you an honest assessment which will help you decide whether to proceed with the purchase or not. 

Tips for Purchasing a Car from an Individual

Know What You Want

To help you save time shopping, it would be great if you already have a car in mind. If you find it hard to choose one, you may create a shortlist, like your top five or top three cars. You can use your budget as the guide in choosing the best car to buy. This way, you can disregard the rest that’s beyond your budget and not risk spending more than you can afford. 

Check the Address

As a car buyer, you’ll want to inspect the car inside and out to check its condition and determine if it has any problems. Once everything’s working well, try not to be tempted to decide immediately. You should also spend time checking all the documents relating to the car - this is really important. 

First, check that the address of the seller is the same as what’s stated on the car’s V5 logbook. Since the car is being sold by an individual, it’s expected that you’ll be viewing the vehicle in the home of the seller. If the person selling the car suggests that you view the car in another location, that’s a red flag right there.

Ask to See the Paperwork

The private seller must also be able to present their proof of identity and documents that prove they’re the rightful owner of the vehicle being sold. There shouldn’t be any problems asking the seller for this because it’s all part of the process. However, if they are uncooperative and refuse your request to see the paperwork, that’s another red flag. It’s best to walk away from that deal altogether. 

And make sure that the vehicle is not subject to outstanding finance on a Hire Purchase agreement by going online to perform what is known as an HPI check.  There will be a small fee but it's definitely worth doing this. 


At this point, when everything’s great and the car has no issues, the documents are all accurate and legitimate, and the price is within your budget, don’t forget to take the car for a test drive. That’s when you can really tell if it’s the right match for you. 

There’s something about the feeling you get when you’re actually driving a vehicle. You’ll have the actual experience of driving it, listening to the sound of the engine, checking the electronics and infotainment system and other details you might have missed when you only inspected the car visually. Take your time and drive the car on different roads so you’ll know how it performs under varying conditions. 

Hopefully, these tips will help make your car buying journey a smooth one! 👍