Try this easy-to-follow, 11-step guide to shopping for a used car

Shopping for a car is easier said than done.

But it’s done every day – sometimes by shoppers who don’t know what they’re doing.

We’re going to try to make sure you aren’t one of those by sharing the most common steps to shopping for a used car, according to a survey conducted by the website CarStory.com.

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Here’s what to do, emphasizing the steps most-often used, with each step followed by the percentage of survey respondents that identified it:

  1. Calculate amount you can afford (68 percent) – It’s a less emotional step than, say, going to the dealership right away, and a good way to begin a thoughtful
  2. Search for vehicles online (86 percent) – Hundreds of vehicle models come out each year, which means you literally have thousands of used-car choices to sort through.
  3. Read online reviews (53 percent) – Online, print, wherever you can find something that informs you about the vehicles you are considering.
  4. Narrow down your search (52 percent) – Use whatever factors are most important to you – reliability, fuel-efficiency, design, color, etc. – to get to a favorite handful.
  5. Consider other vehicles (60 percent) – After narrowing the field, compare your choices to vehicles you might (or might not) have considered earlier, because you could be surprised.
  6. Check vehicle history (59 percent) – This is a must for any used vehicles on your list.
  7. Test drive (74 percent) – Although it’s surprising that 26 percent of shoppers don’t do this.
  8. Check vehicle’s market value (59 percent) – Because you’ll need to know that for Step 9.
  9. Negotiate price (56 percent) – It’s the step almost everyone dreads. But if you’ve done your homework, you should be more comfortable.
  10. Negotiate financing (41 percent) – It’s the other step almost everyone dreads. Most experts suggest arranging your own financing so you can bargain like a cash customer.
  11. Drive the car home (76 percent) – Or go back to step 5. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

One step we left out – because taking it kinda depends on how much they know about cars – would be to ask friends and family for their recommendations. But, as we said …

That should do it. Now you’re ready to go car shopping. And drive home your next vehicle.

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