The search for a car has contributed immensely to decline in posts lately, my apologies.  However, I am pleased with my purchase and  I am loving my "new-to-me" 2009 Volkswagon Rabbit, pictured above.  I learned a great deal through this process and thought that I would share with you.

1.  Do your research! I am not a huge car person but you must be familiar with the following when purchasing a used car:

- Searching multiple sites, eg. Craigslist, AutoTrader,

- Appraising using Kelley's Blue Book or Edmunds

- Checking the Carfax report

- Getting cars checked out by a mechanic

- Financing (if you plan to get a loan)

- Certified Used Cars Additionally, I found a lot of information on to extremely helpful during the search, from articles, to reviews, to car listings, so start there!

2.  Know what you want! I decided to purchase a Volkswagen early on as I have always wanted a Jetta or a Golf (a.k.a. Rabbit). Focusing on these models made things easier as I looked for cars through private parties and dealers.

3.   Determine a budget and stick to it! As you begin looking at cars, it is surprisingly easy to lose sight of your budget.  And especially, don't let a dealer or anyone lead you astray.  If you finance, pay attention to residual value so that you don't wind up upside down on your loan - or owing more than the car is worth.

4.  Take your time! Avoid making  decisions on the spot.  I found great value in taking a night to think every time I came close to purchasing something.

5.  Go with your gut! Buying a used car involves risk so if your gut is telling you something is off - something is off!  I was considering purchasing a Jetta (pictured above) at one dealership and the manager was very brash and aggressive, all the while not explaining the fees assessed.  I just felt uncomfortable and despite the low price on the car.   I just got a real sleezy vibe and started questioning everything.  So, I left the dealership.  Best thing I could have ever done. Because....

I had a wonderful experience purchasing my car from the first salesperson I saw during my search.  We negotiated pricing and I feel that I received a great deal on this car.  He was exceptionally knowledgeable and never pressured me to buy.  In fact, he followed up with me the day before the shenanigans at the dealership mentioned above.  I just had to get back in touch with him because I felt more comfortable working with him.

So special thanks to Charles at Volkswagen Alexandria.  DC readers, if you are interested in a new/used VW, give him a shout.

IMAGE CREDITS:  2 from Edmunds