It’s estimated that more than 14 million new cars will be sold in the U.S. this year. If you think that’s a lot, then you haven’t taken a look at the used car market. “It varies month to month, but generally used car sales are at a three to one ratio over new car sales,” says Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for, who adds that used car sales in 2012 should total “a little over 40 million.”

Used car shoppers tend to have different priorities than new car shoppers. “Used cars are more of a choice for budget-conscious consumers,” says Toprak. “The main appeal of a used car is that someone else took the hit on depreciation.”

[Check out the U.S. News Best Used Car Rankings]

In fact, says Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book, “the average one-year-old vehicle is worth only about 70 percent of its original price at auction.” In other words, by buying a used car, you let someone else send 30 percent of what they spent on the car down the drain.

Though budget tends to be a primary concern for used car shoppers, smart used car buyers know that getting a great deal on a used car is about more than price. “Buying a used car is really about getting the most car for the money,” says Toprak. Most used car shoppers know to get a vehicle history report, mechanic’s evaluation and to do a thorough test drive on any used car they consider, but smart used car buyers start their shopping by narrowing down their list to just the best used car models. Here’s how they do it.

Check out: 5 Things Smart Used Car Shoppers Look For