When purchasing a used vehicle, you can buy it from a dealer or a private seller. A seller may be intent on closing the deal quickly, giving you negotiating power, and doesn’t have any overhead to cover. You might get a good price, but do you know how to buy a used car from a private seller and avoid some of the major drawbacks? Before moving forward, read about the potential risks of going this route. 

You Don’t Know the Seller 

They’re a complete stranger. An auto dealership’s business is built on selling cars and meeting your needs. There are few safety concerns, but when meeting a seller for the first time, that’s not always the case. You know little about this person. Yet you’re engaging in a transaction that involves test driving the car, inspecting it, and working out a deal. If meeting with a private seller, make sure it’s in a public area where other people are around. 

You’re Not Guaranteed a Fair Price 

Private sellers tend to have an emotional attachment to their vehicle and base their pricing on how much they originally paid for it. To many, a payout equal to or at least close to that price is most important. Used vehicles from private sellers can sometimes be overpriced for this reason. 

Consumer Protection Laws Don’t Apply 

Dealerships must comply with a variety of state and federal laws/regulations. The Federal Trade Commission enforces a Used Car Rule that requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide. A private seller isn’t covered under this rule, nor will they cover any problems that occur with the vehicle later (you are buying it “as is”).  

Private Sellers Don’t Provide a Warranty 

Unless the vehicle is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, the seller won’t offer you any type of warranty. It’s your responsibility to ensure the vehicle is in good condition and fix any problems that arise. That means spending your own money on repairs and maintenance, which can be costly as a vehicle ages. Dealerships, on the other hand, often provide short-term warranties on used vehicles as well as certifications. 

DMV Requirements Are Your Responsibility 

 When you purchase a vehicle from a private seller, you are responsible for handling the registration and title transfer. This takes up valuable time. Most dealerships handle this part for you as part of the vehicle sale, which can save a lot of effort. 

More on Your Plate 

In addition to DMV matters, working with a private seller means you’ll have to do all the research on your own. You will need to order vehicle history reports (sellers don’t usually have these on hand) and have the vehicle inspected. From setting up a meeting time with the seller to transferring paperwork, the process can be time-consuming at the very least, if not downright frustrating. 

Fewer Options 

The private seller is one person with one vehicle. A dealership usually has multiple cars to choose from that might meet your needs; perhaps different models, trims, and extras are available. It can take time to find a private party selling exactly what you want. 

Private Sellers May Be Dealers in Disguise 

Online listings for vehicles are sometimes posted by dealers, yet seem like they’re coming from a private seller. They often use questionable tactics and can be deceptive. Walk away if you have any suspicion as to who you are communicating with. 

Visit Hawthorne Auto Square 

Instead of wondering how to buy a used car from a private seller and spending more time and energy, check out our extensive inventory of low-mileage, pre-owned vehicles. You can also get pre-approved for used car financing, benefit from our 6-month service/maintenance warranty, and get a trade-in estimate on your current vehicle. To get started, visit our Hawthorne dealership in person, submit our contact form, or call our sales team at 866-707-7664.