What is every buyer’s priority when buying a new (used) car? The answer is naturally to get the best deal possible, but what makes up that deal?
For some buyers, it’s all about the price and paying the lowest figure possible. For others,it’s about getting the right assurances on the quality and reliability of the car they’re buying. Really though, what we all want to find is a balance between a good price and a quality vehicle, which isn’t always guaranteed with used cars. In other words, we want to find the best value possible when buying.
This debateties directly into the much-asked question of whether to buy your car from a dealership or an individual seller, as both have their pros and cons in relation to those two key subjects of cost and reliability, and therefore value. So, what are those pros and cons?
Buying from a dealer – the pros
- Quality assured: a dealer has a reputation to protect, which means they won’t want to risk selling a dodgy motor. A car bought from a dealership is likely to have undergone rigoroustesting and had any necessary repairs carried out pre-sale. You’ll also probably be able to get a warranty on the vehicle or, if the vehicle is still quite new, benefit from the remaining manufacturer’s warranty. Your consumer rights are also stronger when buying from a dealer.
- Flexible payment options: you’llprobably be able to take advantage of car finance options that allow you to break down the cost of your purchase into monthly payments. Part exchange options on your current vehicle will likely also be available.Dealers are also the better (and potentially only) option for those looking to buy with bad credit.
- There is some room for negotiation: while they’re likely to budge less, dealers aren’t dead set on their prices. If you catch them at the right time in their sales calendar (ie when they’re looking to hit their targets), you might be able to negotiate a pretty good deal.
Buying from a dealer – the cons
- Higher prices: the assurances you get typically come with a higher price tag against buying privately, meaning you’ll need to know how to negotiate.
- Limited warranty: in some cases, the warranty you get will have restrictive elements to it that means not all bases will be covered with your new vehicle.
Buying from a private seller – the pros
- Best price: your chances of getting the best price possible sit firmly with going to a private seller. Private sellers can have a multitude of reasons to sell below the odds – wanting a quick sale/needing to sell, not knowing the true value of their vehicle and being more willing to negotiate. Any of these factors can create real opportunities for you to secure a great deal.
- You get to know the history of the car: find yourself an honest seller and they can give you the full ins and outs of the car’s performance, its good and not so good bitsand its history while in their possession. You also get to scope out the owner themselves and get an idea of how they’ve treated the car.
Buying from a Private seller – the cons
- No assurances: unless there’s some manufacturer warranty left, you aren’t getting one. You’re also buying the car as is, meaning it’s unlikely to have been checked and repaired in anticipation of the sale. You also have very limited consumer rights heading into the sale, thus your own research ahead of the sale is vital.
- You don’t know who you’re buying from: a dishonest seller will happily hide faults from you to get a sale over the line, while an unknowing seller might be unaware of a serious issue that you find out about later on. In either case, unless you can prove the seller has done anything wrong (which will be incredibly hard to do), you have no grounds for action if something goes awry after buying.
- No buying options: your seller will want cold hard cash, meaning you’llneed to come up with all the money at once and you won’t be able to part-ex your current car.
The big question – who do you buy from? Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to that question. As a general rule, buy from a dealer and you’ll pay more and have a lower chance of running into any glaring trouble, or buy from a private seller and pay less up front but face a greater risk of problems down the line.
If you value assurances over price, the dealer is the move. If your main concern is the price tag up front, a private seller is probably better. You can get amazing cars from both, and you can get not so amazing ones too – that part can often find itself in the hands of the used car gods. Whichever way you go, make sure you’ve done your research, done your best to negotiate a good price and leave with a deal that you’re genuinely happy and comfortable with on the day.