We all start wondering where to buy used cars from owners whenever we want to get the cheapest deal possible. Though it’s attractive to purchase a pre-owned vehicle within a tight budget, it’s a risky business and requires a lot of attention.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a decent deal. You simply have to be careful about your choices and examine every option thoroughly.

Don’t worry – I’ll help you figure out how to find a reliable used car even with private sellers.

Why might it be better to buy a used car from a private seller?

Buying used cars from owners can have several advantages, including smaller prices and convenient negotiations. If you want to purchase a pre-owned vehicle without too much hassle, then a private seller can be a great solution.

It’s more affordable initially

The initial prices of used cars sold by owners are usually lower compared to the dealership prices. Since the latter is a business, they need to include all of their costs into the prices. Therefore, their vehicles are usually costlier even when their value isn’t that high.

You’ll easily find a used car from a private seller that’s affordable and reliable at the same time.

You have more room for negotiation and haggling

When you’re buying from the owner, you’re dealing with only one person. You don’t have to haggle with the whole sales department to get a discount. This means that it’s easier to negotiate prices with private sellers.

They are quite flexible as their goal is to sell a vehicle and move on with their life. Some of them might even be pressed in time, giving in to your offers easily. And that, my friend, equals the cheapest deals!

You’ll save a lot of time

Salespeople at dealerships usually have all the time in the world to force you into agreeing to their offers. If you’re trying to buy a car that just rolled into their storage unit, they will get on every last nerve to sell the vehicle profitably. Since they aren’t in a hurry, negotiations can take a while.

You won’t have that problem with owners as they don’t want to waste all day arguing with you about the price. If they notice that you’re willing to pay, they will agree to your offer in no time.

What are the disadvantages of buying a used car from a private seller?

Regardless of the advantages, buying a used car from a private seller can still be risky and include a drawback or two. It’s crucial to look at the whole picture and that’s why we need to discuss all the disadvantages before discussing where to find used cars for sale by owner.

You don’t have warranty options

You get the chance to choose a warranty at the majority of the dealerships. You do have to pay extra money for that, but, in return, you’re covered if anything happens to your car.

With private sellers, you don’t usually enjoy such privilege. Unless the car still has the remaining warranty, you won’t have that option.

But if the car is in a good condition, the lack of a warranty might not be a deal-breaker.

The chances of getting scammed are high

It can be hard to tell a real deal apart from a scam. If you visit an online car-selling website, you’ll notice hundreds of listings without anything to verify their reliability. Therefore, you’ll need to play a guessing game to figure out if the owner is selling you a car or if they are after your money.

Lemon laws won’t protect you here

Lemon laws apply to the dealerships requiring them to provide a warranty for a used car. They operate in certain states only, but they are usually there to protect the rights of the consumers.

The law won’t be on your side when you decide to purchase the car from private sellers. If you end up with a lemon i.e. a piece of junk, you won’t be able to do anything. You’ll waste your money on something that will remain idle for the rest of its deteriorating life.

As you can see, buying a used car from the owner can be tricky, but there are ways to avoid the drawbacks (we’ll get to that in a bit).

Where to find used cars for sale by owner online?

These days, there are a lot of websites that connect potential customers with private sellers. It might seem scary to trust someone you found online, but if you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t have any problems with finding a reliable source.

If you’re wondering where to buy used cars from private owners, here are the websites you need to check out:

1. eBay Motors – a simple and convenient source for reliable vehicles;

2. Autotrader – offers a great variety when it comes to the used car market. You can easily search for a pre-owned vehicle that’s currently on sale here. Plus, they have certain online tools available that could help you make the final choice;

3. CarGurus – another resourceful website where you’ll easily scroll through the available options;

4. Facebook Marketplace – some sellers prefer to upload their listing here, so it could also be worth checking out, but bigger websites will provide you with more reliable options;

5. Craigslist – once again, you could check out the available deals here as well, but we can’t really assure reliability.

No matter which website you choose, you’ll need to do your own research to verify the condition of the vehicle.

It’s useless to examine where to buy used cars by owner unless you’re willing to go the extra mile and double-check the information you’ll see online. This means that you’ll need to verify VINs, scrutinize available history reports, as well as the maintenance records.

Luckily, the majority of owners will be willing to provide all the necessary information and documentation. If not, that should certainly be a red flag for you.

Where to buy used cars from private owners locally?

If you don’t want to deal with online sellers or you simply don’t trust them, you do have several options locally, as well.

How to find used cars for sale by owner locally? – here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Check out local newspapers

In this day and age, it might be surprising to see that people still use papers for ads, but many do, especially in smaller towns. You can check the classified section and look through the available options.

But be careful when it comes to meeting the owner. Don’t go alone and bring someone who understands a thing or two about used cars. That way, you’ll remain safe and get the opinion of a more knowledgeable person.

2. Ask around in your neighborhood

If you’re willing to find a used car locally, it might be a great idea to ask around in your neighborhood. You can search the postings in the area to see if there is anything for sale nearby.

If you have a local used-car market where owners sell their vehicles, it could be a great destination for your search as well. You’ll see those used cars “in person” and verify their condition right there.

Now that you know where to look for used cars by owner online and locally, you can decide which place is more suitable for you. I would prefer online websites just because they are more convenient and offer more versatility. But if you want to search for a used car locally, do whatever you prefer.

Don’t forget to double-check the condition of the chosen car. That’s the most important step no matter where you search the vehicles.

Where to buy used cars by owner and how?

We’ve already discussed where to find used cars by owner, but it’s more important to talk about what you should do to locate the reliable model. Without that knowledge, you can easily get scammed or end up with a lemon. And that’s not something we want, is it?

Determine your budget and do thorough research to find the desired model

If you’re looking for a used car online, knowing your budget beforehand will help you filter out available options and examine only the ones that are in your price range. Once you do that, scrutinize the available options and select the model that suits your needs the most.

Check general reliability of the chosen vehicle

Check the reliability scores of the chosen model to make sure it’s reliable.

Determine the value of similar cars

You can do this by comparing the listings of various sellers. Not only will it help you understand how much you’ll be able to haggle, but it will also enable you to choose the best deal.

Get as much information as you can from the owner

Contact the owner and ask them as many questions as you can. Request history reports and maintenance records to verify the condition of a vehicle.

Inspect every part of the car

You should inspect every part of the car before making the purchase. Examine both the interior and exterior. Look for the signs of leakage or previous accidents. It might be a great idea to take a mechanic with you if that is possible.

If you don’t find anything major, you can use minor flaws during negotiations.

After reading this information, not only do you understand where to buy used cars from owners, but you also know how to locate the most reliable models.


I can’t even iterate enough how important it is to double-check the condition of a used car that you’re buying from a private seller. I showed you the main things that could help you verify if the vehicle is reliable or not. I did also tell you where to find used cars for sale by owner.

Now it’s your turn to do your homework and find a durable and reliable vehicle that suits your needs. Good luck!