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Buying your first car is exciting! But with all the makes and models available today, picking out the perfect car can be a little daunting. Here are a few tips to help you prepare to purchase your first car.

1. Set up a realistic budget. How much can you afford to spend on a car? Once you know what you can afford, stick to that amount. Also prepare for additional expenses like gas, insurance, registration, title fees, taxes, maintenance and repair costs.

2. Do your research. Sure, that sports car looks fun, but how much money will it take to keep it running? Make a list of things you need in a car and research reliability, safety features and gas economy for different makes and models of vehicles.

3. Only buy what you can afford. If you’re financing a car, make sure you can put down at least 20 percent of the car’s price or you’ll probably end up owing more than it’s worth. If you can’t afford to put down the 20 percent or pay off the car in 48 months, don’t buy the car. Instead, purchase a less expensive vehicle or wait until you’ve saved more money.

4. Read the fine print. If you finance a car, know what you’re committing to. Dealerships love to convince people they can afford a monthly payment, but sometimes the cost is higher than you think.

5. Take someone with you to the dealership. Do you know anyone who has a knack for making a deal? Or who knows cars inside and out? Get them to go with you for the test drive and take them out to lunch as a thank you. Having someone with some insight on your side at the dealership can help you make a wiser decision and possibly negotiate a great deal.

Buying your first car is a step toward financial independence. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to make the right choice at the right time.

To learn more about the auto loans available at City National Bank, click here, or call 866-385-3444.

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