by Thomas Hawk via Flickr CC License
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I don't own a car right now but I'm hoping one day soon in my future I will be able to afford to buy one. I'm so unfamiliar with the process though that for someone like me who doesn't know what they're supposed to look for that it can feel like a game of eenie-meenie-minee-moe. So instead of using that approach with buying a car, you may want to go about it the smart way. Cars.com is a fantastic place to start because they not only connect you with dealers in the area that have the car you want, they also have research tools, consumer reviews, and so much more.

But if you are new to the buying car game, and want to make a smart decision, what should you be on the lookout for when it's time to buy a car?

1) If you are buying a used car, get the vehicle history report.

Places like CARFAX can help you with the vehicle history and the nice thing is when you go to Cars.com, they take you directly to the Carfax report. This way you can find out the history of the car, work done on the car and any accidents that the car has been involved in.

2) Give yourself a budget.

One of the best tactics to approach when buying a car, is knowing your budget. This is best whether it's a new or used car you are buying. Keep in mind extra costs that may accrue such as vehicle inspections as well, especially if you are buying a used car. Another perk of using cars.com is that it let's you compare vehicles, so that's another huge perk of shopping through cars.com.

3) Get the dealer's price.

While you can do research on this yourself, you can also ask the dealer directly. What you want to do is find out what the suggested retail price is (that's the MSRP number) and compare what the MSRP number is with the dealer's price. You can better start negotiations if you know this information.

4) Do a test drive.

Of course, this tip reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer was taking a car out for a test drive because he insisted Jerry would let him use it and wanted to see the car for himself. Anyways, you definitely want to test drive under your usual driving conditions, such as commute time or a route that you would usually take most often. Also be on the look out for unfamiliar sounds and make sure basic things like the air conditioner, heater, wipers, all work. Make sure you are also  comfortable maneuvering the car into parking spaces and check out any potential blind spots.

5) Know what you are looking for.

The nice thing about Cars.com is that it lists exhaustive reviews and details about cars. From expert reviews and pros and cons. It's an excellent starting point especially if you really don't know what type of car is a good fit for you.