I need some advice on car shopping. I've seen some older threads with great informative discussions that are a bit outdated or don't fit with my personal criteria. I'll try to make this as short as possible. Thanks in advance for any advice!
First, a bit of background:
- I don't know ANYTHING about cars and have never owned one.
- I also don't care at all about impressing people with my car. I just want it to be practical and somewhat attractive.
- I think I'd like to spend about $10k but could go higher if its worth it, maybe ~$15k max.
- I think I'd like a smaller SUV but could do sedan. I like the smaller SUVs for the extra room and trunk space while still being practical in a city (think CRV, RAV4, Escape, etc)
- I plan to drive the car about 5-10k miles per year, mostly during summer weekends in mild weather. It will probably take some wear and tear from city street parking. I can park it indoors during severe weather.
- Should I stick with Honda or Toyota? Those seem to be the most popular and reliable used car brands, especially for people like me that need easy maintenance.
- Should I finance it or buy all cash? If I finance, what's a good resource for used car auto loans?
- What age or mileage is too old? Is there a "sweet spot" in terms of age/mileage I should target to get a good deal?
- Should I stick with "certified" pre-owned cars? Or should I just make sure I get the car inspected by a 3rd party? (if so, how do I do this?) Any other methods to ensure I don't get ripped off?
- What website or other methods do you recommend for finding used cars? Can I just go right to a dealership with lots of positive online reviews?
- When searching websites, what filters should I be sure to select? Any red flags I should avoid?
- Any good online forums to browse / ask questions?
- Any other advice?