When car buying a little prior planning will always save some pain later. Consider carefully the type of car you want and then be more ruthless with your aspirations and think about what you actually need - you might really want that shiny 2 seat rag-top but it won't allow you to take all 4 of your children shopping at the same time so it could be a problem.

Consider the uses  to which your next car will be put, family jack of all trades, small business load lugger, weekend runabout. Also make sure you know the size of your garage, yes... it does happen. Deciding what you want and then reducing it to what you actually need is sometimes the most painful part of the car buying process.

What you want - you think - is a two seater soft top that might make you more attractive to the red head in the marketing department - it won't - and will convince your boss that you are a real go-getter - it won't - yet costs pocket money to buy and run - they never, ever, do.

Choosing your new-to-you car is often a fraught task involving an inadequate knowledge of what's available, insufficient homework, conflicting desires and expectations from other members of the family, subjectivity dressed up as objectivity, self delusion and extreme image consciousness all of which often collude to end the process with a lot of ill feeling, the wrong car at the wrong price and extreme distrust of the whole car buying process and business.

Abstracted from the book “Buying a Used Car” © G Benge 1997-2007

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