Should You Buy from Family? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Car from Someone You Know

Are you thinking about buying a new car? According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of a new car is $34,000. Unless you want to get saddled with adding a car payment to your already growing stack of bills, you might want to buy used.

The Dealership or a Private Owner

When you decide to purchase a used car, you have the option of either going directly to a dealer or buying your “new” car from someone you know. According to a survey by Accenture, many car buyers in the U.S. would prefer not going to a dealership to get a new car. In fact, three-quarters of the buyers interviewed for the survey would rather have the entire process done online. If you can get your auto insurance quotes online, why can’t you just buy online? Or why not just buy a car from a buddy or family member?


There are advantages to buying a car from someone you know. Check them out below.

The Advantages

  1. Getting a great price

If you want to get a good car for a low price, buying it from a private party would be your best bet. Used car dealers will put a higher price tag on a car in order to turn a profit. They’ll be willing to negotiate for lower prices since they’re not in it for profit. And because they know you, they’ll probably be willing to give you a deal!

  1. More information

When you purchase a car from a friend or cousin, you’ll get more information about the car. You’ll know what magic to work if the clutch sticks as you’re driving uphill and all about the recent rim customizations. Buying from someone you know will also (in many instances) guarantee you an honest car history report.

  1. Less chance of games

Your family member is less likely to stiff you on a deal than a car salesman is, and will probably be more willing to negotiate terms. It’s unlikely that your family would use underhanded techniques to cover up issues with the vehicle in order to make a quick sale. Car dealers on the other hand are known to repaint vehicles or cover up dents to make a quick sale.

The Disadvantages

  1. No guarantee or warranty

If you’re buying a used car from a friend you won’t get a guarantee. Dealers always provide warrantees and even money-back guarantees in line with requirements of the Federal Trade Commission. Should anything go wrong with the car, you can return the car and have it repaired or replaced, you can’t do that when you buy a car privately.

  1. The paperwork

Dealing with paperwork in the transfer of ownership can be complex when buying a car from a private owner. You’ll need to make sure your name is on the title and that the vehicle has had all of its inspections. Both of you will need to visit the DMV to get everything squared away.

  1. If the vehicle is a lemon, you’re out of luck.

Chances are that the first car you come across may not meet your requirements. This means you’ll have to tell your family member that you’re no longer interested in the purchase of the vehicle, which could potentially lead to resentment. Do not buy the vehicle out of peer pressure. If the car doesn’t seem like a good fit, that’s because it probably isn’t. If the car is a lemon they’re trying to get rid of, you don’t need to be the person they unload it on.

Before buying a vehicle from anyone, do your research and ask the right questions – you won’t regret it.

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