First you take a 45 minute test drive and if you still like it, have your mechanic check it out.
Then you pay CASH IN FULL from a private party. Carrying cash is not a great idea. Meeting the seller at your bank or credit union is wise. And 99% of real sellers would be happy to meet at your bank.
Buying from a dealer costs more 80% of the time.
(The exception might be from a one man operation dealer like I used to be. But because one man operations usually don't have car lots, you have to question them. I had a real good answer. My low overhead meant much lower prices) There are campaigns against curb stoning in most states. Dealers with car lots would have you believe that every curb stoner is a con man. That is not true. But some may be.
Financing costs extra and should be arranged in advance at your bank or credit union.
You may not believe it, the cheapest way is to buy from a person known to you. That way he may not hide faults from you because he knows you will be seeing one another
Sara! There are no cheeeeep ways to buy a car just like there are no good cheeeeep cars. My advice to you is, take someone with you that's knows about cars……..Buying a car is like opening Pandora's box…;-(
Save your money, pay cash, don't buy any of the extras the dealer tries to sell you.
Directly from a private seller.