Where to Buy a Used Car

The most common ways to buy a used car are from either a used car dealership or a private party. Of these two options, a private party is usually cheaper and more relaxed, but there are advantages to buying from a dealer.

Foremost among these are the potential bargains. Most used car stock at dealerships is gained through trade-ins, meaning the dealers get these cars at rock-bottom prices before jacking them up for resale. A little careful negotiating on your part can bring those prices down substantially – the dealer is still looking at a much more substantial profit margin than a private seller, who will almost certainly be seeing a loss however they price it.

Many dealerships also have their own in-house mechanics, lending you some assurance that the cars they have for sale have undergone the required maintenance. And, because said maintenance was performed by their in-house staff, it is much cheaper than bringing a private sale to an independent mechanic.

You also have the security of your purchase being backed by a professional organization. So-called “Lemon Laws” vary from state to state, but even in the worst-case scenario, if you’re ripped off by a dealership you can at least complain to the Better Business Bureau.

Additionally, many dealerships have subscriptions to CARFAX’s vehicle history report service, and because they have unlimited access to CARFAX Reports, will offer them completely free. This process is made even easier if you do your shopping from the CARFAX website, which allows you to search dealerships by zip code that offer this service. You can even view the complete CARFAX report right from the search results page, meaning you can start and finish your decision-making process right from home!