Buying a Second hand Car

Planning on buying a pre-owned Toyota or any other car model? There are two basic options to choose from – a private sale and used car dealers.

Before beginning your search for a secondhand car, it is worthwhile to understand the critical differences between the two, as well as their pros and cons.

Private sale vs. car dealer

In order to make an apples-to-apples comparison of your two options for purchasing a used vehicle, it is important to compare these based on a few key areas.


Cost is a critical factor most people use when choosing which car to buy, whether new or used.

For pre-owned vehicles offered by individuals, prices will vary. Some do not have a fair idea of the current market value of their cars, and they may over or under-inflate the selling price.

Despite this, many private sellers are flexible with their prices. It is typical for these vendors to want to dispose of their car as soon as possible due to emergencies, migration, or to cover for the price of a new vehicle that they recently bought.

If you are buying from an individual, you have to make sure that the vehicle is unencumbered. If the car has an encumbrance, there is a possibility that the lender can repossess it even if you did not incur the debt yourself.

With a car dealer, expect prices to be higher compared to a private seller. The main reason behind that is because dealers need to cover their operational costs.

But that higher price tag comes along with a few essential benefits. Chief of these is peace of mind. Generally, when a car is displayed in a dealership, it means that it has been inspected and repaired, and it has a clear title.

Car condition

After price, the next critical factor to consider when choosing between a dealer and a private seller is the condition of the vehicle.

Private sellers can come from different backgrounds, and their knowledge about cars could be anywhere from expert level to nil.

What this can mean is that there will be private sellers who might have no idea about the actual condition of the vehicle they are selling. Whether intentional or not, there will be sellers who would be selling a defective car.

And as such, it is up to you to perform the necessary due diligence to ensure that you are protected. Alternatively, you can enlist the aid of an experienced mechanic to inspect the car you are eyeing to buy.

With a car dealer, you are less likely to purchase a car with hidden defects. Most vehicles sold in dealerships have been repaired and reconditioned, making these roadworthy before being put up for sale.

In the event the car breaks down after you purchase it, you can count upon a warranty for repairs and parts as long as the breakdown occurs within a specified period.

To avoid purchasing an overpriced car from a dealer, make sure that you perform some research into the average price of the specific car model you want to buy.

Protecting yourself

Whether you intend to buy from a private seller or a dealership, it is crucial that you perform a few critical tasks to protect yourself.

First, make sure that the car is safe and roadworthy. This is particularly important if you are planning to buy a model that is older than five years.

Specifically, the car brakes, steering, tires, lights, and suspension should all undergo a thorough inspection. You might want to ask the dealer or private seller for a safety or roadworthiness certificate. Alternatively, ask a mechanic to do a thorough inspection for you, especially when buying from an individual.

If you are buying from a dealer, be sure to take note of the terms of the warranty period. This will give you greater peace of mind knowing that you are covered should the car break down. You might also want to take advantage of additional warranties if the dealer offers some.

After the purchase

Before heading out for your first cruise with your new ride, there are a few things that you need to do.

For starters, you have to make sure that the car’s title has been transferred to you. After that, you should secure insurance for your new vehicle.

Whether you bought the car from a dealer or private seller, it is a good idea to take it to a mechanic first. Specifically, ask him to check the brakes, fluids, filters, and tires.

Finally, be sure to read the owner’s manual to give a fair idea of how to properly operate and maintain your new ride.

Buying a car, whether brand new or secondhand, is a significant financial decision. As such, the process should not be rushed, especially if you are planning to buy a used car. Explore all the available options and perform due diligence before making a purchase.


Mahesh Rohra is the Managing Director of certified Pre-Owned Multi Brand Car Sales & Service, AWR Strategic Ventures, Part of the AW Rostamani Automotive Group, a trailblazer in the automotive fraternity with a legacy of over 50 years. AUTOTRUST is the strategic arm business vertical through which the group had diversified into certified Multibrand Car Sales and Aftersales Service Center Network, offering a one stop shop solution for all automotive requirements. AUTOTRUST offers solutions to buy & sell cars, Agency standard Car Service and Maintenance, car rentals and much more.

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