Purchasing a used car from a private seller rather than a dealership can seem tempting. The lower prices and opportunity to buy from a local owner rather than a dealer can be appealing. However, there are also downsides to be aware of when buying privately. Here we look at the main pros and cons of private car purchases in Sydney.

Buying a Used Car Privately

Potentially Lower Prices

One of the big advantages of buying from a private seller is the potential for lower prices compared to a dealership. Individuals are often more flexible on price for a quick sale. You also avoid any dealer markups and fees.

Dedicated searching across private listing platforms means you can sometimes find an eye-catching bargain. However, you need to ensure the car is mechanically sound before purchase.

Wider Selection of Vehicles

Searching classifieds sites opens up a huge range of vehicles for sale beyond what dealers may have in stock. You can find enthusiasts selling unique, specialty vehicles that dealers simply don’t offer.

Cast the net wide across private listings to discover a specific make, model, year or customised car that perfectly fits your preferences. Going private opens up more choices.

Opportunity to Inspect Vehicle History

When test driving a privately listed vehicle, you can assess its full service and ownership history before making an offer. Ask to see logbooks and maintenance receipts to verify the vehicle has been properly cared for.

Dealerships don’t always readily provide the full history, but private sellers are often willing to share documentation on request before sale.

Potential to Negotiate Extras

There may be an opportunity to negotiate free extras into the sale, like a roof rack or car fridge. Dealers typically charge extra for any addons, but private sellers can be more flexible in bundling extras to secure a sale.

Avoid Dealership Sales Tactics

Private sales allow you to avoid the slick sales tactics that dealership salespeople are renowned for. There is no pressure, just a simple transaction between individuals. However, some sellers may still use tactics to clinch a deal.

Downsides of Private Car Purchasing

No Warranty Protection

Unlike dealers, private sellers generally don’t provide any kind of warranty on vehicles sold. You purchase at your own risk unless the seller chooses to offer a basic warranty agreement in writing. Lack of warranty cover is a key downside.

Less Recourse If Issues Arise

Dealers have obligations under Australian consumer law if a major issue is uncovered post-purchase. But with private sales, recourse options are limited if you discover problems down the track.

Risk of Buying a Lemon

While private sales can turn up some gems, they carry a higher risk of inadvertently buying a lemon. Without professional inspections, it’s easier to miss warning signs of a troublesome car. Thoroughly vet any private purchase.

Can Take Time to Find Right Car

Sifting through classifieds and inspecting myriad options takes considerable time and effort. If you need a replacement car promptly, a dealership may source one faster.

No Help with Financing

Dealers can arrange tailored financing packages for vehicle purchases. Private sellers simply expect cash payment, so you need to organise your own financing if required.

You Handle All Paperwork

Dealers will handle vehicle registration and transfer paperwork for you. But in a private sale, you must handle all documentation including roadworthy certificate and transfer forms.

Potential for Scams

Scammers sometimes pose as private sellers online. Be extremely wary of anything seeming suspicious. Follow tips to avoid fraud and only transact face-to-face after test driving.

Difficulty Verifying Service History

While dealers can produce service records for cars they are selling, logs may be incomplete or missing altogether on private sales. Take any service history claims with a grain of salt.

Weighing Up Private Sale Pros and Cons

As we’ve covered, private sales offer potential savings but also greater responsibility and risk for buyers. Weigh up the pros and cons carefully before opting for a private purchase. For many buyers, the protections and convenience of buying from a reputable dealer outweigh private sale benefits.