Buying From a Car Dealer vs. Private Seller

Used cars on a car lot

Shopping for a used car can be exciting but also overwhelming. Many St. Louis drivers want to know, “Just what is the difference between buying from a car dealer vs. private seller?” While some St. Charles drivers try their luck on the private market, there’s a good reason why so many choose dealerships like Suntrup Automotive Group instead. Learn more about the process of buying from a car dealer vs. private seller, and get more car-buying tips in St. Louis today!

Why Buy From a Private Seller?


  • Owner’s Perspective: A private seller will generally know the vehicle inside and out, so they can give you more perspective on any issues the vehicle has. 
  • Niche Market: If you want a more niche model or historical car, the private market is the way to go. Dealerships around Fenton usually have more conventional offerings. 


  • No Coverage/Protection: You’ll need to roll the dice when you shop the private market. If your car breaks down after signing the contract, you’re on your own. 
  • Spotty Service History: Some owners keep great records while others don’t. If you don’t have service paperwork, there’s no way to know if the car has been properly maintained. 

Why Buy From a Dealership?


  • Competitive Prices & Selection: Since dealerships stock used cars in bulk, they are much more open to negotiation than a private seller. Pricing is competitive, and selection is vast.
  • Service & Parts Centers: Whether you want an inspection or a new accessory, a dealership has everything that you need in one location. 
  • Certified Pre-Owned Inventory: Only certified dealerships are authorized to sell certified pre-owned models – which include warranty coverage, roadside assistance, special CPO financing, and more. 
  • Trade-Ins: Any money you get from the trade-in process can be used to cut the cost of your next vehicle, which can stretch your budget even further.


  • Financing: Some shoppers are hesitant to choose financing, but financing is one of the most common options available. If you have the cash up front, you can still pay for the car in full at a dealership like you can with a private sale. However, you can also opt for a more budget-friendly financing option if you’d prefer.

Shop Used Cars at Suntrup Automotive Group

We’ve gone through the pros and cons of the car dealer vs. private seller, and we think it’s clear that a dealership offers many advantages to the customer. Want to see for yourself? Feel free to browse our used inventory or contact us with your questions. Visit our dealership in St. Louis when you’re ready for a test drive!


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