== == The first step to buying a used car is a detailed assessment of your transportation needs. It's a good idea to answer the following questions. How will the car be used? The first thing to do is to decide on a class of vehicle that best fits your lifestyle. Who will be driving the car? And where? If you're concerned about taking your kids to soccer practice, you're probably going to need a car with lots of seating and storage capacity. If you're planning to use the car for commuting, gas mileage and comfort may be your biggest considerations. What features best suit your needs? If there are features you simply must have -- like air conditioning, lumbar supports or adjustable controls -- make a list. What are some vehicle safety features you are looking for? Are you interested in anti-lock brake systems, integrated seat belt systems, head injury protection, or child protection equipment? How much can I afford to spend? Think about how much you're willing to spend, how much of a down payment you can make, and how much you can afford per month, long before you start the process. After you narrow your search to a few makes and models, analyze the pros and cons for each. There are many excellent resources available to help you do your research including websites, dealerships, and your local library. Read Consumer Reports magazine - online or hard copy - for reliability and repair ratings as well as general advice. The website www.edmunds.com offers pricing information and comprehensive advice on buying a used car. Look at individual used vehicles. Gather as much information as you can on the different makes and models. Check out the retail value, available options, performance, and track record for repairs. For information about car safety features, recalls, crash tests, and other auto safety topics, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) web site. You can also call NHTSA's toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at 888-DASH-2-DOT (888-327-4236) and have information sent to you. You should always be concerned about buying "someone else's problems." Make sure you get a detailed vehicle history report and service records from the person selling the vehicle. A vehicle history report can identify major problems including past accidents, flood damage, and odometer discrepancies. When you're buying a used car, also make sure you get it checked out by a trusted mechanic before you give the seller any money. == == * You really need to know how many accidents its had. You need to check the vehicle's VIN history on the inter net. Check for things indicating major body work. Run your hands over sheet metal paneling that is out of site, like under the hood, under the trunk, the sides of the trunk, to check for weld seams. Wash and wax the car to identify blemishes. Use a cloth-covered-magnet to identify ares repaired with filler or fiber panels. Inspect the side walls of the tire to identify an iffy driver. == == * You can always make use of cars classifieds online as a basis for comparing used car values and pricing. By doing this, you can give yourself the option of getting the best car deal by finding out which car would best fit your lifestyle and your budget. Once you have decided, you should always request for the cars history to get more information about the car. The more damage/crash it has in its history, the lower the used car value is. If it is maintained timely and properly, with out any damage or crash record, the value remains, except for when there are upgrades or improvements.