When economy is bad, which it always seems to be these days, and you need a car, you need to find a cheap one. You don’t really care how it looks, but how well it runs. At least until you can afford a better one. Safety and dependability is what you are looking for.
If you can’t pay cash, or already have the financing ready, you need to check your credit score. Remember, your dealer has an advantage if he knows more than you.
With score above 680, you are OK. If it is below 680 you will probably pay a higher APR. Check if you can finance the car without going through the car dealer. Start comparing online auto loan rates, you need to be well prepared when discussing this with your dealer.
Create a budget. Can you pay off your loan in 36 months? Or at least 48? You don’t want to spend more 3-4 years to pay off an old car. How much will new tires, insurance, and maintenance cost? How much will you drive? Know your numbers.
When you know what you can afford, check out online sites like Cars.com, UsedCars.com, CarsDirect.com and Car.com, newspapers and community bulletin boards for ads. Make a list of cars you are interested in. Compare prices with recommended prices at Kelley Blue Book.
Another option is Carmax, which offers free vehicle history reports, certified inspections, and a 5-Day Money-Back Guarantee.
Visit the dealer. Have a look at the car. Take it out for a ride.
But before you commit to anything, make sure you get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and ask for a AutoCheck Vehicle History Report or a CARFAX report. If the car dealer cannot show you one, get it yourself. AutoCheck is the cheaper option. You should also have a mechanic to inspect the car on a lift.
Next step is to negotiate the selling price. This is a market where the golden rule is to get the price down, unless you are shopping with Carmax. They have fixed prices for “stress-free shopping”.
When you agreed on a price, don’t pay anything until the owner signs the title over to you. If you get your financing through the dealer, don’t drive away with the car until your loan is approved and the APR is agreed upon.
Once you are the happy owner of that new, cheap car, register the vehicle in your name.
Basic source: carbuyingtips.com