It’s no secret that major financial decisions are a bit more difficult when your credit is suffering. When you need something like an auto loan, a little preparation goes a long way. Following these basics can help make your next car buying experience a little less rough, even with bad credit.

Know Your Credit

The first step in being prepared to purchase a vehicle is to know what lenders will see when they look at your credit. Your credit score will impact things such as your overall approval and potential interest rate, while your credit report will give lenders an idea of how you’ve handled finances in the past.

It’s important to know what's on your credit report, and if the information is accurate. Any mistakes you find should be brought to the attention of the credit bureau reporting it so they can be fixed. No one wants unnecessary negative marks impacting their credit.

You can see what's on your credit reports because consumers are entitled to a free copy from each of the three national bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian – every 12 months. To stay on top of your credit year-round, it’s recommended that you request a report from one bureau every four months. You can do this by visiting

Prepare a Budget

Being ready to purchase will be easier if you’re prepared financially for the responsibility of a car payment. Using online tools like a car loan approval calculator and a monthly payment calculator will help you get an estimate of what you’ll have to pay each month.

Have a Down Payment

saving up for a carAnother thing to prepare for is a down payment. Most subprime lenders require a down payment. The amount will vary by lender, but a general rule of thumb is $1,000 or 10 percent of the vehicle’s selling price, whichever is less.

An online down payment calculator can help you get an idea of how much you’ll need to pay upfront. Remember, a down payment is your investment in an auto loan, and the more you put down, the lower your interest charges will be over the term of your loan.

Don’t Go Empty-Handed

When you visit a special finance dealer, they'll require you to have some documentation available:

  • Proof of income – Your most recent check stub will serve as proof. Most subprime lenders require a minimum gross monthly income of $1,500 from one source.
  • Proof of residence – This should be a current utility bill in your name, at the address listed on the application.
  • Proof of a working telephone – You'll need to provide proof of a landline or contract cell phone from a national carrier in your name.
  • References – Six to eight personal references with names, addresses, and phone numbers are typically required.

Having these things with you the first time will make your trip to the dealership much easier.

Finding the Right Dealer

Not all dealers have the lending resources to be able to work with people who have credit issues, so finding the right dealer is key. At Drivers Lane, we specialize in helping people find local dealers that can help.

We work with a nationwide network of special finance dealers, who have lenders available that are able work with people who have no credit, low credit, bankruptcy, or even repossession. Taking the first step is easy, simply fill out our online auto loan request form today!