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Shopping for a Used Car: Dealership vs. Private Seller

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When shopping for a used vehicle near Denver, Centennial, or Aurora, most people make their purchase through a private seller or a car dealership. Each has their pros and cons, which Mile High Honda outlines in article below.

This post goes over what to expect when purchasing a vehicle through a dealership or private seller. That way you can choose the option that’s best for you.

Your Trade-in Checklist

Car Dealership Pros

  • Generally, dealerships handle the paperwork associated with ownership, registration, or title transfer. This isn’t the case if you go through a private seller.
  • Unlike private sellers, dealerships sometimes offer warranties on their used vehicles.
  • Used Car DealershipUsually, pre-owned cars at a dealership have been inspected and repaired if necessary. Some private sellers skip this step to get their car off their hands.
  • Dealerships have a reputation to uphold and will do everything they can to ensure that the used vehicle you purchase is in great condition. Some private parties sell vehicles with undisclosed mechanical or structural problems to get them off their hands.
  • Many dealerships offer certified pre-owned vehicles, which are cars that go through a series of inspections and repairs to ensure that they’re in good condition. Many certified pre-owned vehicles also come with a special warranty.
  • When shopping for a used car, you probably only have to visit a few dealerships to find the right one for you. Going through a private seller requires more footwork.
  • There’s more legal protection when you purchase a used car at a dealership than a private seller. Dealerships must follow strict laws that protect consumers from purchasing a lemon or a salvaged vehicle without their knowledge.
  • Unlike private parties, you can trade your current vehicle at a dealership and put it toward your deposit.

Private Seller Pros

Car Dealership

  • Sometimes, there’s more room to negotiate an asking price when you go through a private seller, especially if they’re eager to get the vehicle off their hands.

Dealership Cons

  • Sometimes, used vehicles purchased at a dealership are more expensive.
  • There may be less room to negotiate on a final price when you work with a dealership.

Private Seller Cons

Used Car Dealer

  • Unlike dealerships, private sellers aren’t bound by state and federal laws that protect consumers from purchasing lemons or undisclosed salvaged vehicles. Since consumers don’t have as much legal protection, they need to carefully inspect used cars from a private seller.
  • Private parties don’t offer warranties. Unfortunately, that means you’re stuck with the vehicle if a mechanical or structural problem pops up.
  • Typically, there are no trade-in options when you go through a private seller. Most private parties want cash for their car, not your vehicle.
  • Finding the right used car can be more time consuming if you go through a private seller and not a dealership.
  • Every used car from a private seller needs to be inspected by a mechanic you trust. However, this depends on the seller’s time.
  • If you go through a private party, the two of you are responsible for completing paperwork for the title transfer, registration, taxes, fees, bill of sale, etc. Typically, you have to go to the DMV or an authorized agency to complete these transactions.
  • Depending on where you live, you have to make sure that your vehicle is up-to-date on emissions requirements.

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Dealer vs. Private Party: It’s Your Decision

Whether you go through a car dealership or private party, there are pros and cons that come with each when shopping for a used vehicle.

Working with a dealership is the best option for most people, but buying a used car from a private party isn’t without its benefits. This decision ultimately comes down to your personal situation, so weigh the pros and cons of each and decide what is best for you.

If you’re shopping for a used car dealer near Denver, Centennial, or Aurora, Mile High Honda has a wide inventory of pre-owned and certified pre-owned vehicles for you to consider. When you’re ready to find out more, contact us online or by calling 303-532-0404.

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