1. Set a Budget
Before you start shopping for a vehicle, determine how much you can spend per month on a car. The average price of a used car in 2016 was $19,189, according to a recent report by Edmunds. Your budget will rule out a vast majority of options and help you focus on a specific class of vehicles.
“A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 25 percent of your monthly household income, including the cost of fuel, insurance, repairs and maintenance,” said Kristen Andersson with Instamotor, a private-party used car marketplace. Other experts, including those at Cars.com, suggest a more modest approach. They advise buyers to find a car that takes up no more than 10-15 percent of their income.