• Make a list of some vehicle safety features you're looking for. For example, are you interested in anti-lock brake systems and integrated seat belt systems?
•ÊBefore you start shopping, set a budget for how much you want to spend. Research a few models that meet your criteria and price range. The Web sites kbb.com and Edmunds.com offer pricing information and comprehensive advice on buying a used car.
• Obviously, finding a safe and reliable vehicle for your teen is top priority. The Carfax Safety and Reliability Report allows you to view the auto industry's leading used-car safety ratings, reliability scores and reviews in one step. The information compiled in these reports can also give some good general advice.
• Now you're ready to start visiting dealers. For any vehicle you consider, ask detailed questions about the vehicle's performance and history, and request maintenance and inspection records. Also, get a Carfax Vehicle History Report (most dealers will provide reports for free; you just have to ask) or get one yourself at www.carfax.com.
• Always test-drive prospective cars on city streets and highways. This will give you a chance to thoroughly examine the car. Have your teenager drive it if you can. Make sure everything on the car works properly-brakes, gauges, lights, windows and locks. Also have a mechanic you trust check it out.
• In addition to that, you should take a look to make sure the body parts line up, the paint matches, doors open and close easily and the tires show even wear.
• Get a copy of "Finding The Best Used Car," available from the Federal Consumer Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado (www.pueblo.gsa.gov).
By doing your homework, you will be able to negotiate a good price for a reliable car. For more tips and information, visit www.carfax.com.