Buying a used car from a dealer – Is it a good idea?

Buying a used car from a dealer – Is it a good idea?
November 10, 2020 Dilate Manager
used car from a dealer City Subaru

It’s an age-old question that still divides dinner parties – should your next used car come from a private sale or a dealership? Sure, we know there are better deals on the private market – just scroll through any online marketplace and you’ll see the sheer number of cars at dirt cheap prices. Plus there’s that ‘dealership’ salesman environment you may want to steer clear of, but what is really at stake here? At the very least, buying your next car should be an informed decision. Are there advantages of buying a used car from a dealer? Here’s your used car buying guide continuing important things to consider before taking that first test drive. 

Is buying a used car from a dealer cheaper? 

The answer is almost always no. At least, upfront, that is. You’ll find any online marketplace teeming with deals, some of which are too good to be true. Set your price limit to $1000 and see for yourself. But buying a used car for dirt cheap comes with potential hidden costs: one being it’s probably cheap for a reason. It’s always good to be careful with buying a cheap car, chances are it’s had a troubled service history, a recent accident, or has engine problems that even the seller may not be aware of. Getting any car professionally inspected before you make any decision is a good idea. Or if you’re buying from a dealership you can ask for a report on the car. A key advantage of buying a used car from a dealer is that you’ll most likely have a better resale value if you end up upgrading in the future, and they all come with a statutory warranty to keep you safe from any hidden issues. 

Which one is easier? 

This depends on how familiar you are with the change of ownership process in Western Australia. There are insurance and other bureaucratic steps you may need to take to make sure your next car is road legal. While buying privately may be tempting, you’ll find some sellers may be complacent in getting the right forms in on time. In contrast, a dealership is well versed in the process of car sales and changes in ownership. You’ll be certain everything you sign is above board and can save time and money down the track. That being said, if this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ll be all over the forms from the moment you make payment. But for anyone who isn’t sure, or if it’s their first car, it’s worth looking at a dealership. 

What about dealing with salespersons?

Dealerships often have an experienced sales team. This can often be a blessing and a curse. While they most certainly know how to sell, they also know a lot about the car such as details of past ownership, and can offer key facts upfront. However, some car salespersons indeed have a reputation for being pushy. If you feel in any way pressured, ask to speak to a manager, or leave and try elsewhere. Remember the consumer has the power.

Dealerships vs Private sales: payment and financing 

You’ve probably guessed it, but don’t expect any private seller to offer a payment plan. It’s basically unheard of unless you’ve got a specific arrangement. So if you’re looking at a fairly new car, and are thinking about financing it, you’re most definitely going to find this service exclusively at a dealership. There are many ways of financing a car, all of which can be discussed in person at your local dealership. Dealerships selling used cars Perth are known to offer attractive roadside assistance packages and servicing options too. You may find dealerships offer trade-in deals that can reduce the amount you pay up-front. This can save the hassle of trying to sell your old car privately.

What about warranties?

It’s safe to say dealerships have a clear win here. While a private sale will more likely be cheaper, you’re left with no safeguards against potential faults that might arise after purchase. A private seller is also not obliged to tell you whether the car has any ongoing issues, which can add a level of distrust to the situation. Dealerships can be held liable and will more often than not cover their bases with reputable insurance firms. Having a guarantee isn’t just good for your peace of mind, it can come in handy when you least expect it. 

Long term investment vs impulse buy

Choosing between a dealership and a private marketplace will depend on what car you’re after and why. If it’s a passion project or a second car, you may feel like there’s less pressure to go through all the hoops to get that extra cover or have the official handover experience. If you’re looking for a long term investment or a first car, the benefits of choosing a dealership will always outweigh the costs. 

Reputation 

Any private seller can lie or sell a dud, and they do. And while you have to be unlucky to actually fall into this trap, you can be sure that a certified car dealership will only sell a car if it really works. Why? They’re a business. They’ve got a reputation to uphold. So a few bad reviews could actually hurt them over the long term. As a result, you can probably expect to be treated well, and given a thorough rundown on all the car’s features and specifications. Likewise, with all the servicing documents, you’ll be sure to get as much detail as possible on the car’s mechanical history. 

In the end, it’s the little things that count 

It’s true. The advantages of buying a used car from a dealer sometimes have nothing to do with the process, or even the type of car. It comes down to the little things like knowing there aren’t Macdonald’s chips under the seat or leftover CDs in the glove box. The complimentary car detail, giving it that fresh ‘as-new’ look are some things you’ll miss when going private. While you may have had a perfect experience buying privately before, buying a used car from a dealer will have a slight edge on rocking up and paying cash or bank transfer to someone you’ve never met before. If nothing else, when you’re driving out from a dealership in your new car, you can be sure the car isn’t going to break down on the way home.

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