It's no secret that most car dealers make a lot of money on used cars. The reason for this is that it is very easy for you not to know what the car is worth. Let's face it, on a new car there is a window sticker that the manufacturer has to put on the car. On a used car the sticker you see (if it even has one) is made by the dealer! So it is very important that you compare different used vehicles you are looking at. ALWAYS demand a "CARFAX" report and ask the dealer to let you know where the car came from and if it was owned privately or by a rental company.
I do have another piece of advice for you, however. PERHAPS you should not be looking at a used car at all? What do I mean? I'll explain.
You need to avoid the trap of buying a car that is going to last for 3 years but you are going to be financing for 5 in order to get the payment you want. It happens all of the time. I had a customer in the door a few years ago that was the worst case I ever saw. The customer had a vehicle he bought somewhere else one year previous with 90,000 miles on it. He financed it for 5 years. When I met him and his nice young family the vehicle had 108,000 miles on it and a blown engine. He could not afford to replace the engine but he owed so much money on the vehicle that he could not sell it either. He admitted that he was only looking at a payment when he bought it and fell into a big trap. There is nothing I could do to help him.
So what do you do? How about looking at NEW instead? YES it might make sense. Listen, most people want to finance a vehicle for 5 years whether it is new or used. Sometimes it is not the best thing for you to do. Lets say you are looking at a 2007 Toyota Camry online for $12,999 with 63,000 miles (real car on cars.com now). Typically if you financed that 6 year old car for another 5 years your payment would be around $280 per month. THAT IS 11 years worth of financing on that car! If you drove it a typical 15,000 miles per year it would have almost 140,000 miles on it at the end of the loan!
My idea? How about financing a NEW LOADED DODGE Avenger for 7 years and having a LOWER payment? You get new tires, new brakes, a 3 year / 36,000 mile "bumper to bumper" warranty and you know where the car has been because it is new! Think of it ........why finance a 6 year old car for 5 years but NOT consider the benefits of financing a new car for 7? The interest rates are at all time lows. Financing is loosening up. It can make a lot of sense.
I have a web site www.ForgetAboutUsed.com. Take a look and let me know what you think about the concept. I would be more than happy to hear from you.