How to Buy a Used Car Online: Private Sale vs Dealership

The internet, social media, and a global pandemic have dramatically changed the way people buy used cars. More Floridians than ever are flocking to their laptops, tablets, and smartphones in search of that perfect pre-owned online purchase. Oh, how far we’ve come!

Online car-buying offers several distinct advantages, including shopping from home 24/7, access to a vast online inventory, and not having to leave your house until you’re ready to seal the deal. But your ultimate goal remains the same: Find a good car, at a good price, from a good seller — and therein lies the problem when buying a car straight from a private seller off the internet. 

For instance, when shopping online for a used Honda for sale near Miami, you have two choices: 

  1. Take the risk and buy from private sellers, some of whom may be trying to scam or con you, through websites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
  1. Visit your local used car lot or dealership’s website and simply look through their inventory of used and certified pre-owned vehicles, then click to reserve your vehicle and get the financing paperwork started. 

While it looks pretty cut and dry — buying a car online from a dealership is still your best bet — you may still have questions and concerns since this is a new era of shopping. We’re here to help you navigate the sometimes confusing process of finding and buying a used car on the internet. Buckle up.

Shopping Online for Used Honda for Sale in Miami

Dealership vs. Private Seller: Pros


  • You’ll get a warranty backed by the dealership. And, if you buy a Certified Pre-Owned Honda, you’ll get the balance of the car’s factory warranty. You also have the option of purchasing an extended warranty, too.
  • Many car dealers will give you a few days to return a used vehicle to the dealership and buy a different one.
  • You can easily apply for financing, schedule a test drive, and pick up your car from the dealership from the comfort of your home.
  • Because dealers are mindful of their reputation, they’ll bend over backward to make sure you’re satisfied with your purchase.  
  • You can take advantage of special incentives and financing offers 
  • You can use your current vehicle as a trade-in to help lower your monthly or down payment.
  • You can choose to finance your Certified Pre-Owned Honda with special CPO rates.  
  • You can choose from a wide selection of highly reliable used vehicles that come with a free CARFAX vehicle history report. (Speaking of reliability, according to, the Honda Accord and Honda Civic consistently rank as two of the six most reliable used vehicles on the market.)
  • Not only can you search for the best deals on Certified Pre-Owned Hondas on the website, but you can also now check out all pre-owned Hondas for sale in your area, too.  
  • Even better, you can visit your local South Florida Honda Dealers’ website, where you can shop online for the best deals on a wide selection of Certified Pre-owned and pre-owned Hondas, with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps of your finger.

Private Seller

  • You’ll probably get a lower price than you will at a dealership.
  • A private online seller may also be highly motivated to sell, giving you some leverage in negotiating a lower price.
  • A private online seller is also intimately familiar with the car they’re selling you, so they can tell you about it in detail.
Risks of Buying Vehicle from Private Seller

Dealership vs. Private Seller: Cons

Private Sale

  • A private seller isn’t obliged to give you an accurate vehicle history, so it’s a matter of “who do you trust.”
  • A private seller can’t warranty their car. That means you’re stuck if you find any mechanical problems after the sale. (Good luck getting your money back.)
  • Some banks won’t finance a private used-car purchase.
  • You’ll be dealing with someone you don’t know.  
  • According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety, if you buy a used car online from a private party, you are responsible for paying the state’s 6% sales tax. They also recommend that you complete a private used-car purchase at your local tax collector’s office to ensure that the correct amount of tax is paid. 


  • You could pay more for the vehicle compared to a private sale.
  • Haggling with the dealership will get the best price.
  • You may pay more in interest in the long run if you finance your used car purchase.

The Bottom Line

Why take a chance with buying a used car online from an unknown private party? Instead, it’s easy to shop online for a great deal on a quality pre-owned car from your nearest dealership. It’ll be well worth your while. 

If you’d like to buy a reliable used Honda in Miami, we’re the place to shop. Visit any of our South Florida Honda Dealers online to shop, finance and buy your next pre-owned vehicle — all from home!