There are a number of places to purchase a used auto. Here's a quick rundown: CarMax offers no-haggle pricing and cars that are in good condition, but its prices are a bit higher than you'll find elsewhere. Private-party sellers have lower prices and can be negotiated with more easily, but the burden is on the buyer to get the car inspected. Major dealerships sell certified pre-owned cars that are in excellent condition and backed by factory warranties. This option will appeal to buyers who want to minimize the risks of buying used and are willing to pay extra for it. Independent used-car lots are another alternative but can vary wildly on price and the condition level of their cars.
Read Edmunds reviews and best vehicle lists, such as those for best midsize sport-utility vehicles, best sport sedans and best pickups. Then narrow your choices, settling on the vehicle that fits you best, whether that's a minivan or a subcompact. Shopping online is the fastest way to get a great deal, so these steps assume that's what you are doing.
There's a big safety benefit to buying the newest car you can afford. When you buy a new car, you're ensuring you're getting a car that's up to the most recent safety standards in both crash testing and in safety technology. A new car compared to a used car from even five years ago can have big safety advantages with things like more airbags, a more rigid construction, and more advanced technology like a backup camera which is now mandatory on every new car sold in the U.S.