Check your vehicle for open recalls on NHTSA: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls. Car dealers cooperating with mobile-website provider, 321 Ignition have this feature on every single vehicle detail page. Some other websites do not, so proceed with caution or ask for this.
Do not carry cash for a down payment, instead write a check. It’s traceable and makes you a less vulnerable target for would-be thieves.
If you are buying a vehicle yourself from a private party – meet at the police station or somewhere very visible after exchanging driver license information. You can check others person criminal history on a public site like https://public.courts.in.gov/mycase/#/vw/Search (only for Indiana)
The buddy system works well for car buying from individuals as well!
Safety comes first so don’t give too much personal information up front and don’t trust everyone initially. There are many folks looking to prey on the vulnerable.
Be smart, cautious and always trust your gut instinct. America is the land of opportunity for everyone (the well-wishers as well as those trying to take advantage of the system.)