Unless it's delicate in nature, you didn't put down your details and/or complexity of your situation. Why? Because every potential buyer is unique.
Second, what are your reasons of getting a car?
Here are the DO's:
1) DO TAKE THE TIME to make yourself knowledgeable about the basics mechanics of automobile of a particular car you want and the car's history: Part of the reason you are going to take care of it and part that you won't get swindled between a dealer and mechanic in the future.
2) DO UNDERSTAND the ball is always in your corner as long as you don't sign anything: It's a new financial thing you're taking on. When I bought my first car I talked to my leadership to get the help that I need ...first. I even brought my military mechanic friend with me to check the car before any decisions are made. Lastly, I leaned on a military attorney (it's free to go to them) to look over the contract so you are fully aware before signing.
3) *DO NEGOTIATE: You do have a budget and so have in mind what you are willing to pay for. Learning a little bit about negotiation because that's a skill you need to have anyways for almost anything in life. For example, knowing first that fee's are generally $1,500 added. In other words, if you can afford an $18,000 car and that is your max then ask for $16,500. It all comes down to what you are willing to agree (same thing for house buying) and never be afraid to walk away with a smile from a deal you don't feel comfortable with. Remember, this is not high-school anymore and so you can toss out that fictitious pressure out the door anytime!
*NOTE: Unless you are buying an all new electric car, it is highly suggested to buy a pre-owned car. For one, it's already depreciated but they still have warranty (as well as lower price tag) and the dealers do update to insure it is operable and make it attractive to sale right away. So when going to a dealer always have a second person (with some knowledge of course) for protection, legal, and counsel reasons. Why? At one time I overlooked some numbers and that second person who was with me caught it. Saved me a lot of pain and money. The dealer, however, wasn't too pleased that we caught that ...so keep that in mind.
IN SUMMARY: I'm glad I took the step-back, wait, ponder, and seek help approach because it not only protected me from the common pit falls financially but I was able to insure that doesn't become a military departmental issue and that would include maintaining my security clearance.
Thanks for reaching out in Community! I have attached the link to our Car Buying Service: https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/car_buying_services_product?SearchRanking=2&SearchLinkPhrase=car. Here you can start your search for a new or used vehicle. Best of luck with your search!