So many questions come up when you're in the market for a new vehicle:
Why buy a new car vs a used car?
Should I buy a used car?
Should you buy a used car that's been in an accident?
Where to buy a used car?
Below are some tips on how to buy a used car. If you are more of an audio/video type learner, there is a video at the bottom of this page.
All you need when buying a used car is a good checklist, good resources, and confidence. The checklist is what are the things you should be looking for when you inspect and test drive a used vehicle. You should already have narrowed your search down to the different types of vehicles and trim models you're interested in based on your driving needs, and budget.
Then, you search for the vehicle you're interested in in both traditional ways and ways using new technology. Traditionally you can search at a used car lot, or at a dealership. These places do offer an advantage because they can often offer financing. Don't let this be a hinderance though. You can take out a personal loan or an auto loan from your bank in order to purchase a vehicle from a private party.
Good resources include KellyBlueBook.com, and Carfax.com. You can also use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to run the vin number to find out if there are any recalls on the vehicle. https://vpic.nhtsa.dot.gov/decoder/ I like to also just Google the vin number. This can often tell you if the vehicle has been up for auction before, or if it has major accidents that have been repaired.
Accidents are a touchy subject. A minor fender bender that cost a bunch to repair (and caused the vehicle to have a salvage title because the insurance company thought it was too expensive to repair) is not a big deal. If the car had any sort of frame damage or was smushed badly, you might reconsider purchasing something that has had extensive collision repair. These vehicles often have more problems than others simply because they have been taken apart and put back together by humans instead of the manufacturing plants that put them together originally.
Now that you have a good checklist (if you haven't made your own, be sure to watch the video below and subscribe), and good resources, this should boost your confidence in purchasing a used car. If you have any concerns, you can always ask to have a mechanic do an inspection on the vehicle before you buy. Good luck and happy shopping!