What is the first thing you do when in the market shopping for a car? Do you (A) hop in your car and go to your nearest auto dealer or do you (B) go online and search through Autotrader's vast selection of vehicles? Let me inform you that nowadays there are number of things readily at your disposal for you to access in order to get the best deal today.
Allow me to introduce to you the idea of a public auction. It is a great place to consider if you have enough cash and do not want to be burdened with a contract and finance. On the other hand if you do not have the cash to buy the car of your dreams outright and your credit is decent enough to get financing you can always get preapproved with companies like Road Loans and etc. If you go online and conduct a detailed search you can find your local public auction nearest to you in the state you live in. There are no long forms to fill out so just be prepared to buy and drive off with your vehicle.
A more traditional method that has been around for quite some time now is your local newspaper in the classified section. Yes this method still does exist. You would be surprised how many dealers are perusing the classifieds to sell you a car they purchased from and elderly. You will find great deals on cars from individuals that have had a death in the family, recently been laid off or just cannot afford to make another payment on their car.
Another location you may want to consider is your local rental facility. Not too many people know this but it has been growing in popularity in recent years. They always replenish their cars after the first year of use or if the vehicle has reached its mileage capacity. They offer great deals on used vehicles that are reliable. As an added bonus you can rent the car and test-drive it for a week before you decide to purchase.
I have always had success online through venues like eBay and Craigslist. I am speaking from experience because I conduct business on both ends of transactions. Competition is tough so you are guaranteed a deal. As with any big ticket purchase take precaution and be sure to do a history check on the vehicle you are interested in with services like Experian Autocheck or CarFax.