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Advice for buying a used car. (Denver)

Dear all,

I will be arriving in Denver (Boulder/Longmont) the first of April with family.

Whereas we've been without a car for 6 years now (goget and buses/trains have been sufficient for us in Sydney) , we'll NEED one there...

We'll go of course for a used one, will pay cash (will take months for us to have a credit rating anyway), and have a budget of "up to $10k" with a couple of models in mind.

I was wondering to what extend buying the car from a dealer/sale-yard gives any benefits in terms of warranty / liability, compared to buying from an individual on Craiglist.
In otehr words, are professional dealers bound to any regulation? Do they give you 6 months or a year warranty when buying used car from them?

Otherwise, are there "independent services" (private mechanics, or institutions), that can do a thorough check of a car before buying it? (not only paperwork, but also checking brakes, engine etc...) . I read about the CARFAX / VIN check but to my understanding that is a bare minimum administrative check that the car is not stolen / mortgaged out...

Is it OK to test drive the cars that are for sale? When I see them on dealers'adverts they have no rego plates...

IS it OK to secure insurance and rego over the phone once a deal is done?

Many thanks all for any advice :-)