Most people I know would rather poke their eye out with a fork than walk onto a used car lot. However, buying used is a savvy move. The following quote from CarsDirect demonstrates why.
A new car depreciates or loses value almost immediately after you drive it off a dealer's lot. As a quick rule of thumb, a car will lose between 15% and 20% of its value each year according to Bankrate.com. A car in its second year will be worth 80% to 85% of its first year value and a car in it's third year will be worth 80% to 85% of its second year value.
One of the reasons we hate used car shopping is because frankly, used car salesmen don't have the best reputation. Also, the process is overwhelming. There are so many cars to choose from and we're afraid we're going to get screwed.
As with any major purchase, research is key to savvy shopping. Kiplinger magazine recently came out with their list of the 10 Best Values in Used Cars for 2012. The article is an excellent starting place.
As for those used car salesmen - there are plenty of reputable sales people out there. The best way to find them is by word of mouth. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. If you have a good mechanic, ask them for a referral. That's how I found Bob Kay of BK Motors in Half Moon Bay. He sold me my beloved Nissan Maxima five years and 100,000 miles ago.
2009 Nissan Rogue S