The first step in evaluating a used car for purchase, is to search! Carmax is an excellent starting point, since they are located across the country. They also allow vehicles to be shipped. Carmax can also be hassle free since they let you sign up for email alerts any time a used vehicle you specify becomes available.
Once you have found a potential used car, the next most important step is to ask the dealer for a free Carfax report. Carfax reports show the comprehensive history of most used vehicles. Simply provide the specific car's VIN number and the car's history can be displayed.
When looking at a Carfax, be aware of any history of accidents and natural disasters such as floods or hail damage. Carfax also shows how many previous owners the used vehicle has had.
Next, be sure to talk to the dealer to ensure that all recalls have been addressed and fixed. Also check the Carfax to ensure that proper scheduled maintenance has been administered to the used vehicle by the previous owner(s).
Finally, do a physical inspection. Test drive the vehicle with friends so that they can provide an extra pair of eyes and check out the backseats while you drive the used vehicle. Also, check the tires, brakes, and airbags.