dark blue chevrolet camaro car

Finding the Top Locations to Buy Cars from Private Sellers


Embarking on the journey to purchase a car is an adventure filled with excitement and anticipation. While dealership lots showcase an array of shiny vehicles, there’s a unique allure to buying a car from a private seller. 

In this guide, we’ll navigate the terrain of a private car sale, uncovering the hidden gems and potential pitfalls that come with this personal and direct approach to acquiring your next set of wheels. 

Whether you’re a seasoned car enthusiast or a first-time buyer, join us as we explore where to buy cars from private car sellers and ensure your journey is not just memorable but also marked by informed decisions and the thrill of finding the perfect ride.

Welcome to the road less traveled, where the destination is a reliable vehicle and a seamless buying experience.

Why You Should Buy From a Private Seller

One of the biggest advantages of making your next car purchase from a private seller is that you’ll get it for a potentially lower price. 

A private individual doesn’t have the overhead of a dealership to cover so you typically save a great deal of money. 

two hands shaking in front of a car

Other advantages include:

  • No upsells: When buying from a private seller there are no upsells to consider. A common fault with dealerships is that they put pressure on you to purchase extra products and services. 
  • Better bargaining power: Negotiations with a private seller tend to be more flexible and there’s room to reach a mutually agreeable price.
  • Less hassle and better control: You have more control when making transactions with a private seller. You can schedule meetings on your terms, ask questions, and negotiate with the hard sales tactics often used by dealerships.
  • Less time invested: Private sellers want to complete the sale efficiently and if you’re prepared to pay with cash, you’ll likely get a good deal.
  • Common ground: Private sellers may be more open to negotiation, especially if they’re keen on a quick sale.
  • Cleaner, better-maintained vehicles: Some private sellers take better care of their cars.
  • All the little details: When dealing directly with the owner, you get to learn more about the vehicle’s history, maintenance, and any quirks it might have.  

Where is the Best Place to Buy Used Cars From Private Sellers?

You’ve got plenty of options if you’re wondering where to look for the best car sellers. 


Autotrader is one of the best places to buy cars from private sellers. A key advantage is that you can receive a free vehicle history report on any vehicle you’re thinking about buying. This guarantee of the car’s history is critical because you can be more informed and check that the vehicle has a clean history. 

eBay Motors

eBay Motors is a useful tool if you’re in the market for a used vehicle. Thanks to the helpful filters you can look for buyers near you as well as across the country. 
There are two options if you buy from eBay Motors. You can take part in an auction and bid against others for the car of your dreams. The other option is to buy your new vehicle at a fixed price. 


Cars.com is another huge platform for buying and selling vehicles. It allows you to search by make or body style, maximum price, and distance from your ZIP code. The site includes vehicles that are being sold by dealerships and by private individuals. If you find a car you like, click on it for additional information and see the vehicle’s free CARFAX report. 

Cars are labeled with one of four badges: 

  • Great Deal: The vehicle is priced significantly lower than the market average
  • Good Deal: Cars are priced at or slightly below the market average
  • Fair Price: Prices are slightly above market average
  • Well-Equipped: The vehicle includes additional features that may affect the price.  

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is a free website for listing vehicles. One major advantage of using this platform is that you can look at the profiles of sellers. As well as Marketplace, there are also private groups where you might find cars for sale. 
Always be careful when using Facebook Marketplace as it doesn’t offer protection for transactions. 

Bring a Trailer

Bring a trailer is a great place to go shopping for rare or classic cars. It uses the auction format of selling a car, allowing potential buyers to bid on a vehicle. A big advantage of buying your next car from Bring a Trailer is that the website vets the car seller list. This means you can trust the sellers and they’ll be more likely to complete the sale.


Another place to look if you’re in the market for a collectible car is Hemmings, a website that specializes in rare and collective cars. Also, if you’re looking for the perfect deal and the perfect car, many would say this is the best site to buy cars from private sellers. 

You have the option of participating in an auction, from a direct sale, or responding to a classified ad. 


Craigslist is not as popular as it used to be, but it’s still an effective platform for buying a car. Private sellers post a listing together with photographs of the car they want to sell. The only real downside of this option is that the listings are mostly local. 

Top Tips for Buying a Used Car From a Private Seller

While there are advantages to buying a used car from a private seller, the process can be more complicated than using a dealership. It’s also going to take up more of your time. 

This next section of our post will help you be prepared and know what you’re getting into. 

one gray one black car

Finding Cars

We’ve already introduced you to some of the top locations for buying a used car from a private seller. Using these sites you can search and filter by a variety of criteria such as year, make, model, and mileage. You can also search in your area or widen the search if you don’t mind traveling for the right car. 

A couple of options we haven’t yet mentioned are buying a car through classified ads or from a family member or friend. 

Researching Cars

Typically, when you buy a car from an individual you’re buying it from a stranger whose trustworthiness is unknown. There’s not likely to be any warranties to protect you, and in many states, private-party purchases aren’t covered by lemon laws that protect people who buy defective vehicles. 

The best way to reduce the risk of buying a lemon is to do your homework. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Contact the seller and ask questions: For example, ask about damage, outstanding loans on the car, major mechanical repairs, proof of regular maintenance, and current odometer reading
  • Get a vehicle history report: The seller might be prepared to provide one, but if not, you can order one yourself. All you need is the car’s vehicle identification number. Purchase the report from CarfaxAutocheck, and similar companies, typically for a fee.
  • Determine whether the price is fair: Use sites like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to see if the seller’s asking price is fair. 

Arranging a Viewing

If you’re still interested after your research checks, it’s time to set up a meeting to see the car in person. With a little bit of planning, your meeting can be safer and take up less of your time.

  • Meet in a public place and don’t go alone. At the very least, make sure someone knows where you’re going and check in at a specific time.
  • Try to meet during the day so you can do a visual inspection of the interior and exterior.
  • Test drive the car. For security, ask for the seller’s driving license to photograph, send the image to someone who knows where you are, and ask for proof of insurance on the car. 
  • Have the car inspected by a mechanic. Don’t rely on the vehicle history report and visual inspection. A pre-purchase inspection could cost up to a few hundred dollars but it’s worth the expense. 

Completing the Purchase

Taking ownership is a little more complicated compared to buying from a dealership. When you buy from a private seller, you’re responsible for paperwork a dealer would typically handle. 

It’s your responsibility to ensure any registration and title transfer paperwork is complete. In some states, you must also complete a bill of sale together with an odometer disclosure statement. You are also responsible for paying any sales tax and fees when registering the car. 
Your local DMV will be able to tell you what’s required to take ownership. It might be worth completing the purchase with the seller at the DMV. 

One final step is to get car insurance. This is vital before you drive the car away. Talk with your car insurance company about coverage and getting proof of insurance

Getting Your Car Home

If you’ve bought your new car out of state you might be wondering how you’re getting to get it home. We offer an online car buyers service and can arrange for cars to be picked up by a reputable carrier from private car sellers.

If you’d like to know the cost of shipping your car across country, we have a handy online quote calculator. Alternatively, speak with our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. 

Get a free, no-hassle quote on car shipping!  

Get a quote banner