Private Seller vs. Dealer: What’s Right for You?

When you’re looking to buy a used car in West Valley City, Utah, or elsewhere in the Salt Lake Valley, you have a couple of different options available to you. Once you’ve made the decision between buying a new car and a used one, the next question is: Should you buy from a dealership or a private seller? There are pros and cons to both approaches. 

Buying From the Dealership: Pros

Before you even walk into any one of your local Ford dealers, you will most likely be greeted by a company representative, directed to the sales division and connected with a salesperson right from the get-go. The car dealership experience is designed to make buying a car quick and easy, with all the necessary paperwork already arranged and the financing options already on the table.

Dealerships from Utah to the East Coast also offer high trade-in values for that old 2001 Ford Escape you’ve been driving around forever, and can offer you a number of vehicle warranties and guarantees.


  • Certified pre-owned vehicles
  • Better financing options
  • Less paperwork
  • Warranties & guarantees
  • Vehicle trade-in options
  • Cars have been inspected & repaired
  • Quick & easy buying process

Buying From the Dealership: Cons

For some people, that whole “dealership experience” you get at your local Ford dealers can be something of a turn-off. Car dealers often sell their vehicles for higher prices than you’d find on the private market, and salespeople can sometimes be overbearing and pushy.

In addition, a dealership is unlikely to have the same amount of vehicle history information on that 2012 Ford F150 as the private seller who’s been driving it around Utah for four years does.

Buying From a Private Seller: Pros

If you’re looking to buy a used vehicle for a cheaper price than what you’d get at the dealers’, the private market is the way to go. Buying from a private party gives you more leeway in the buying process, and you may be able to haggle the seller down to an even cheaper price, depending on the seller’s particular situation. A private seller in Utah who has been driving his Ford Focus around for two years is also more likely to know the ins and outs of his car, how many miles are city versus highway and other useful information.


  • Lower prices
  • More room for negotiation
  • In-depth vehicle history
  • No pushy sales experience
  • Lower taxes (depending on your state)

Buying from a Private Seller: Cons

The biggest drawback to buying from private sellers instead of car dealers is that a private seller most likely does not want to buy your car. If you’re looking to swap your old Ford Fusion in for a new ride, you’re likely going to have to sell the car yourself. Buying from a private seller also leaves you with fewer financing options, leaves you more paperwork to do and is generally a longer process.

In addition, you have very little in the way of legal protection when you buy a used car from a private party. Whereas car dealers in Utah have to follow strict legal standards for vehicle quality, a private seller is under no such legal obligation.


  • No warranties or guarantees
  • No trade-in options
  • More paperwork
  • Fewer financing options
  • More background research necessary
  • No legal protection against “lemons” or junk cars

As you can see, there are clear pros and cons to buying a used car from either the dealership or a private party. Whether you’re buying a car in Utah or the Midwest, there’s no definitive answer to which method is best. It all depends on your personal preferences.


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