* Decide which make and model you want.
* Research the asking price.
* Find out how much it would cost to finance the vehicle.
* Find out how much it would cost to insure the vehicle.
* Research the prospective vehicle history using online and printed resources.
* Interview prospective sellers before meeting them in person.
* Set a daytime appointment.
* Before starting the test drive, check the undercarriage, engine and body for rust or damage.
* Check the interior for cleanliness, comfort and size.
* Inspect the tires for wear.
* Check the oil for the proper level and color.
* Check the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion.
* Drive on the highway to gauge acceleration and handling.
* Test the brakes.
* Test the steering and alignment.
* Practice parking for maneuverability and sight lines.
* After the test drive, inspect the engine for leaks, odors or smoke.
* Request and review the service records, receipts and title.
* Have a mechanic inspect the car you're thinking of buying.