Where to buy a Used CarWhen it comes to buying a used car, there’s more to think about than just the type of car you’re going to buy. You also need to think about where you’re going to buy it. You have three options: you can buy from a private individual, an independent dealer, or a franchise dealer.

1. Private Individual

If you decide to buy from a private individual, you have some benefits. The pricing tends to be pretty reasonable, and you get to meet the person that’s driving the car. They’ll tell you its history and why they’re selling. A lot of times they’ll show you service records, and these things are all very valuable.

One of the big disadvantages with buying from a private individual is that you don’t know whom you’re dealing with – there’s a chance that the seller is a con artist. Another major disadvantage is that you don’t have any recourse if the car turns out to be a lemon.

2. Independent DealershipIndependent dealership used car lot

The second option for buying a used car is to go to an independent dealership (usually these are small lots that only sell used cars). These dealerships tend to have a wide selection of older and specialty vehicles. Also, because they’re small, they have low overheads, so the pricing tends to be very good – better than a franchise dealership.

However, their small size means that they don’t have an image to protect – if they get some bad press, nobody knows who they are anyway, so it’s not a big deal for them. They’re also not well regulated – it’s just not efficient for the limited number of state regulators to spend a lot of time at the small dealerships.

3. Franchise DealersFranchise dealership Used Car lot

Your third option is to buy a used car from a big new car dealership, also known as a franchise dealer (because they’re a manufacturer franchise, like a Ford, Toyota, etc.). Franchise dealers have a few disadvantages – people don’t like to buy from them because they’re usually the most expensive (which is true, but if you follow our negotiation tips it won’t matter). Also, if you’re going to have a bad buying experience, it’s probably going to be at a franchise dealer – they’re more likely to pressure, manipulate, and/or ignore you simply because they’re so big.

Despite these negatives, the advantages to buying a used car from a franchise dealer are great. That’s why we recommend buying a used car from a franchise dealer. Here’s why:

  • Franchise dealers are often closely regulated by state regulators, and they are subjected to annual reviews by the manufacturer they represent.
  • If you don’t like the way you’re treated at a franchise dealer, you can call the auto manufacturer they represent and complain. You’ll often get results.
  • Franchise dealers spend millions of dollars in advertising to build their public image. If they wrong you, threaten the dealer with bad publicity from local TV, radio, and newspapers. You can also try putting a sign on your car that says “So-and-So dealership lied to me”. It won’t take long before they do the right thing.

As always, take your time when buying a used car. Do your used car research, get multiple used car financing quotes, and feel free to contact us with your questions.


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