Dealer or Private Seller: which is better?

Dealer or Private Seller: which is better?

When searching for your new car, you never know exactly when the right model – and the right price – is going to come along. You may be actively perusing a dealership showroom, or you could spot a vehicle being advertised privately in your local area.

Whether to go with dealer or a private seller is just one of many decisions that you'll need to make when buying a car. Here at Zuto we can help whether you buy from either. What's right for you will be a completely individual decision based on your own circumstances, but it's worth keeping the following things in mind...


This is usually the first thing on everyone's minds, and with good reason. A private seller is likely to be offering a far lower price than a dealer, and will likely be open to negotiation too.

However, a dealer will sometimes have special offers available that could see you find a car that was previously out of your range at a more palatable price – just be careful not to let yourself get pressured into a bad deal.

A dealer may offer a range of financing options, allowing you to spread the cost over multiple instalments. However, there could be more suitable and more competitive finance options available to you by looking elsewhere – At Zuto, we work with more than 15 lenders to provide access to over 60 products. It's worth doing your homework to make sure you get the best possible deal on your arranged finance.


A dealer is subject to a lot more rules and regulations, and will provide warranties on cars that are inspected and maintained by certified technicians. This means you can be sure you're buying something that works, which will be fixed by an expert if it breaks down. A private seller, on the other hand, is not bound by the same rules. If you're not careful, you could get be buying something that's far from up to scratch.

However, being locked into using the mechanics covered by your warranty can be a drawback for some – buying from a private seller means you have a bit more freedom as to where you get your repairs done.


Buying a car from a stranger is always going to have some risks involved. Although, if you're buying from a private seller that you know personally, there could be a much higher level of trust compared to buying from a dealer. To avoid any pitfalls do your research and undertake a vehicle history check to make sure there’s no outstanding finance left to pay or that the car hasn’t been stolen or declared a ‘write-off’. Most online services such as this charge a small fee. However Zuto offers this for free as part of their service.

So which is better?

Sorry to disappoint, but there's no clear cut answer to this particular question! There are pros and cons to each, and ultimately it's going to come down to the right car, at the right price, and making the choice that is right for you and you alone. Just remember to research your prospective car carefully, whether it's at a dealership or parked down the road with an inviting sign in the back window. Never rush into a deal, never let yourself be pressured into making decisions you're not comfortable with.

Arrange a call back

Opening hours:
9am to 8pm Monday - Friday
9am to 6pm Saturday
10am to 6pm Sunday and Bank Holidays