Suitable research should be carried out before buying any car, whether it be a new or a pre-owned model. You have to know what you're buying with a used car, the condition of the vehicle and if it is a good deal must be clear to you. When the deal seems too good to be true, get going somewhere else, because you are liable to be taken advantage of. Be a lot more careful with used car lots; they are very good at pressuring people into deals.
Usually you have to do a lot more than expectantly drive around your city streets, seeking cars for sale, to find one that you're going to like at the right price. It's best to first make a list of all the important factors, including the make and color you are after, and the price you can afford. You could end up considering Explorers, if you made the decision that you wanted a SUV made by Ford. If you know how much you are able to spend, you'll be able to deduce the approximate age of a car that will lie within your price range.
Once you have made the decision that you like a specific make and model, you can research any problems with the car by reading reviews and visiting user forums online. It will be a matter of narrowing your search down to an area near you, once you have determined that a car has a record of being reliable, that no parts have been recalled and that its safety record compares well with that of other cars. Equipped with the data of how much a specific car depreciates by annually, you can work out what price would be appropriate for the car.
This really is always beneficial information to have, both when buying someone's own car or buying from a car lot. In any event, when buying a used car, you should spend some time test driving it, and even having a mechanic check it out for you. You'll want to trust the people you happen to be dealing with, but even a new car can have problems. A useful source of references relating to which dealers are good tend to be your friends and any mechanics you may know. They will usually be able to let you know which firms are not trustworthy. In the long run, it continues to comes down to who do you believe in.
If your town has more than one used car lot, it might be a good idea to visit them all to see what they have. This will enable you to compare both the prices and the condition of hopefully a few examples of the car you want. Having the ability to pick from more than one option provides some peace of mind, the more so when you want a car in a hurry.