Both dealers and private parties can be great sources through which to buy a used car. Different people prefer different options. If you're not sure which camp you fall in, these questions can help you decide.
How Much Time Do You Have?
The first factor that you should consider is how much time you have to spend on researching cars. If you're going through a private party, there is a lot more legwork in finding individual listings, contacting the buyer to set up the appointments, and traveling to each location to look at a single car. A car dealership offers you the convenience of looking at many cars on a single lot.
How Much Money Do You Have?
Money can play a factor as well. Private parties may offer you a lower rate for the car, since their expenses are lower for business overhead and other costs. But you can still get a good deal at a car dealership if you look hard enough. Be sure to check the company's reputation online; other past clients will likely tell you whether the prices were reasonable and the cars in good shape.
How Concerned Are You About Reliability?
If you are looking for a reliable vehicle, going through a private party can be a bit of a roulette. Some sellers took care of their cars well, while others don't know enough about cars to tell you that the radiator is about to go kaput. If you do go through a private party, it's worth the tie and money it takes to send the car to a mechanic for inspection. Dealers might already provide you with the notes from a recent inspection.
Do You Understand the Legal Paperwork Required?
Finally, you'll want to consider the time it takes to understand the car sales paperwork, taxes, and registration procedures. A great car dealership will walk you through these processes and take care of the paperwork for you. You'll be on your own if you go through a private seller, in all likelihood.
Whether you choose to go through a private party or car dealership for your used car purchase, there are deals to be had on both ends as long as you scrutinize the purchase beforehand. Be sure to allow for plenty of time to research each car and make sure that you're getting a reasonable price before you sign on the dotted line.