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Buying a Used Car (Dealership vs. Private)

Buying a Used Car from a Dealership

Pros: There are thousands of dealerships in Ontario to give you plenty of options to choose from. Only shop at ones that are licensed by OMVIC. OMVIC is the regulating body for all dealerships in Ontario. Their key purpose is to maintain a fair and informed marketplace by protecting the rights of consumers. OMVIC regularly inspects dealership to ensure strict adherence to consumer protection guidelines. This is a major plus if you are worried about fraud or vehicles coming from questionable sources. With dealerships, you have the option to purchase Certified Pre-owned vehicles. At a new car dealership, these programs are typically created by car manufactures and provide a standard for vehicle quality and often comes with a mechanical breakdown vehicle service contract backed by the brand. If you have a trade-in, dealerships will also allow the trade-in price to be deducted against your next vehicle so that you will pay less sales tax on the next vehicle. This is a financial benefit and a huge convenience factor if you do not want to go through the pain of selling privately. Just drop-off your old car, and pick-up your next one!

Cons: Modern day dealerships carry high costs and overheads, especially with the constant update of renovations and upgrades mandated by the car manufactures. All of this cost translates to higher selling price on both your car, and any protection and finance products that you may end up buying. You pay a significant premium for all that convenience.

Buying a Used Car Privately

Pros: Online marketplace platforms such as and are powerful tools that private car buyers and sellers have access to. These are the same tools that dealerships use to market their vehicles, and provides private car buyers with more choices and information than ever before at their fingertips. Similar to car dealerships, private sellers can now share high quality vehicle photos and provide details and even vehicle history reports online. These are all valuable information that private car buyers can use to make more informed decisions. Due to the perceived hassle of buying a car privately, the demand for privately sold vehicles are lower and thus the final selling price is typically lower when compared to a dealership. You also get to skip the potential high pressure sales tactic and the notion of being passed from person to person through the dealership sales process. Although a clear process may not be such a bad thing when you have to consider all the steps and potential headaches of buying a car privately.

Cons: When buying a car privately, you have to make sure that you are extra careful throughout the entire process. Without knowing anything about the person or the vehicle that you are about to purchase, means you need to do some extra work. This includes getting the Carfax vehicle history report and ensuring there are no outstanding lien on the vehicle. If you need financing for your car or want extra protection products, it will be also much more difficult to do so if you purchased the vehicle privately. Visit our step-by-step post on how to buy a car privately in Ontario for more information and tips on protecting yourself.

Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR)

Consider buying from a dealership if you:

  • don’t want the hassle of dealing with private sellers due to financial or health risks such as scams or sanitation concerns
  • don’t mind paying a little more for your next car
  • want the reassurance of the OEM’s Certified Pre-Owned program
  • have a trade-in that you want to use to reduce the tax paid on your next vehicle, or simply don’t want to deal with selling your previous car
  • want financing and protection products

Consider buying privately if you:

  • want to save some money
  • don’t mind doing the research and going through the hassle of buying privately
  • want more choices (sometimes the specific car/option that you want may not be available). Used cars are said to be “one of a kind”, each are unique with their own story

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