There are plenty of common adages about buying cars; for instance, new ones lose substantial value the moment they leave the dealer’s lot. Which is why many consumers opt to purchase a used vehicle when the time comes to replace or buy another car.

Used cars (or, as they have popularly come to be known as, “pre-owned”) are generally a better buy for the money, and they also have the benefit of time on the road. This gives the car experts an opportunity to know just how well a vehicle model performs, what its problem areas are, and which used car models to avoid as opposed to ones you should seek out.

Thanks to incredible advances in technology and manufacturing, the lifespan of vehicles continues to expand. This makes for even better bargains for people who are willing to invest the time in researching their purchase. To streamline the search, here is a short list of what to do when purchasing a used vehicle online.

Make a short list

Narrowing down the various makes and models that are in the running for final purchase is a great way to make the process more manageable. Factors you’ll likely want to consider include budget, lifestyle, and total cost of ownership.

The great news is that many used cars now have warranties and vehicle history reports can be easily pulled with the VIN. Both of these protect the consumer.

Money matters

Staying realistic and firm in negotiations is easier when there are firm dollar amounts in place. How much can you offer as a down payment? What’s a comfortable amount to pay every month?

From there, the prospective car buyer can secure financing and move into the final stages of making the purchase. Doing so ahead of time allows for more competitive rate shopping, better interest rates, and a simplified negotiation process with the seller.

Thanks to independent consumer agencies, you should have an idea about what any given vehicle should cost based on mileage, year, and condition.

Make the purchase

The time has come! The hours invested in researching the perfect vehicle, securing financing, and to preparing yourself to make a purchase have culminated to this moment. The tools and resources to conduct the used-car buying process are all conveniently available online.

With a plethora of reasons to buy a used car (e.g., the security and benefits of a new car without the instant depreciation), you can land big savings, manufacturer warranties, and a financially smart investment.