Car Buying 101 – Dealers and Private Sales

By Abbey Ramsay, Consumer Lending Manager at UCU

Dealers vs. Private Sales

In my opinion, shopping for the vehicle is the best most exciting part! Granted some will disagree but, it’s really your time to ask yourself what you need in a vehicle, (for me it’s plaid seats and a turbo). For most, these are the things that will make paying for your vehicle each month worth the price. Once you know what you need it’s time to think about dealer versus private sale.


At a dealer it’s like the car supermarket, you have the benefit and convenience of many choices in one place. It’s important to note that new vehicles can only be purchased from a dealer. This is a great way to try out many makes and models and find what best suites your needs. While there is convenience in choice, this also can come at a slightly higher price. Speaking of prices this is something you can haggle with the dealer, lower car price = lower monthly payment. is a great tool to find out what others are paying in the area for the same auto at a dealer. Watch out for dealer rebates and some of their finance specials. Sometimes the price of the car goes up to get a lower interest rate on the loan. That’s like paying your interest up front which isn’t ideal. If shopping at a dealer isn’t your style, you can also elect to shop for your next vehicle from current owners.

Private Sales

In a private sale, you are working with a current vehicle owner to purchase a vehicle they own. This can sometimes save you money, but you will want to consider that once you buy the vehicle it is generally an as-is sale. If you work with a local lender, they often will offer mechanical repair coverage that can sometimes offset this risk. It is still important to bring the vehicle to a trusted mechanic or bring someone with you that knows what to look for when buying a vehicle if you are unsure.


Once you have found the vehicle that you can’t walk away from without looking back at it (your dream car), it’s time to call UCU and give us the good news! We then will take some information from you about the vehicle and make sure the price is not more than the value, (is the juice worth the squeeze?) If it is, that’s great! Just a couple more things to think about… I know, I know, you just want to go drive it!

Before you grab the keys, think about some coverage that will help make sure over the next few years that the payment is just a reminder of your amazing vehicle and not a burden. Things that help with this are optional products like mechanical repair coverage or a repair warranty can help offset those pesky repair costs, guaranteed asset protection (GAP) can help you out if you total your vehicle and your insurance doesn’t cover the full balance of your loan. Debt protection can help cover you for life, disability, and involuntary unemployment.  These products will be explained to you further by a UCU loan originator during the application process.

There you have it, you’ve made a quick trip through the car buying process. Once you know all the twists and turns it’s really not too scary, and with the right navigator at your side (your local lender) you are sure not to get lost in the sauce!

Click here to learn more about Auto Loans at UCU.