10 Steps to Buying a Used Car

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If you're looking to buy a used car, you're far from alone. Between private-party and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used cars exchange hands each year.

With so many choices, finding that one right car for you can be a challenge. So we've created a list of steps to help make finding and buying your perfect used car a breeze. If you need more personalized help along the way, reach out to the Edmunds Shopper Advice team for free assistance. You also can be paired with an Edmunds car shopping adviser, who can help you no matter where you are in the process of getting a used car. This service is also free from Edmunds. Let's get started.

Step 1: How Much Car Can You Afford?
A rule of thumb: If you're taking out a loan to pay for your car, your car payment shouldn't be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you're sticking to a tight budget, you may want to spend even less. Used cars will need a little extra attention from time to time: new tires, maintenance and the like. And then there are the other ownership costs shoppers sometimes forget to account for, such as fuel and insurance.

If the car you're planning to buy is out of warranty, it might be a good idea to set aside a "just-in-case" fund to cover any unexpected repairs.