Best Place To Buy A Car: At A Used Car Dealership Or Outright From A Private Owner?

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Best Place To Buy A Car: At A Used Car Dealership Or Outright From A Private Owner?

23 September 2014
 Categories: Finance & Money, Articles

Investing in a new or used car is a big deal because vehicles are expensive. If you are getting ready to purchase a used car and want to make sure you get a reliable vehicle for a fair price, you will have two main options to choose from. You could look for a car at a used car dealership, or you could search through ads for vehicles that are for sale by owner. As you consider your options, here are three reasons you may want to limit your search to used car dealers.

State Laws

There are a variety of laws used car dealerships must follow when conducting business. These laws are in place to protect consumers, and there are several different ones that offer advantages to you as a used car buyer, including:

  • As-is versus warranty – used car dealers must specify in writing whether the car is being sold as-is or with a warranty, and this is something you should find out before making an offer.
  • Lemon laws – these laws are in place to prevent dealers from selling vehicles that have major problems. The main goal of lemon laws is to make sure that dealers disclose major issues if they know about them, but these laws vary by state.

On the other hand, buying a car from a private party does not give you any protection like this. While many people will disclose problems with vehicles they are selling, there are many that will not. If you buy a car from a private party and find out that it has major problems, it will be much harder for you to fight this.

Other Legalities

Two other things to consider when purchasing a used car are the title and the license plates. Every car has its own title, but the owner of a car does not have possession of the title unless the car is paid off. Every car at a used dealership is paid off, and the dealer will have the titles to these cars.

You will either receive the title when you make the purchase, or you will receive the title after you register it with your local DMV. In either case, the used dealer will give you a paper license plate to place on the car. These plates are normally good for 20 to 60 days, depending on the state. In New Hampshire, for example, a paper plate is good for 20 days.

If you purchase a used car from a private party and the car is not paid off, the current owner will not have the title to the vehicle, and this can present several problems including:

  • You may have to wait for the title to come in the mail before you can drive the car.
  • You may not be able to get license plates for the car.
  • There's a chance you could experience problems with the title.

The safer option is to stick with a dealer when purchasing a used vehicle.

Reputation and Assistance

As you continue thinking about this decision, it's important to consider the seller's reputation and assistance offered after the sale. Dealers like Neil's Finance Plaza Inc. aim for satisfaction with purchases because these often lead to repeat customers, whereas private parties do not have to worry about their reputations.

Because dealers care about this, they are likely to:

  • Place all vehicles through inspections prior to selling them
  • Make necessary repairs and maintenance tasks before cars are sold
  • Sell used cars at auctions if they do not meet their standards
  • Offer help and assistance to recent customers when there are questions and minor problems
  • Offer warranties, even if they are only for 30 days

One of the reasons people purchase cars from private owners is because they are usually cheaper, and in some cases buyers are able to avoid paying sales tax with this method. While saving money is important, you really should consider these three factors before you make your decision.