Making the most of your car buying experience can often be a challenge, especially if you have bad credit. The key to a better experience comes from being prepared. When you know what to expect, the process of getting a subprime auto loan doesn’t have to be a rocky road. With these tips, you can look forward to a smoother trip when purchasing your next vehicle.

Prepare a Big-Picture Budget

make a budget, budgetingOne way to be prepared is to look at the big picture when planning your budget. Knowing what you can comfortably spend in a month on a car payment is an important factor, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of the budget. Looking at the overall cost of a vehicle can help you get the most for your money. Only being set on the monthly payment can leave you paying more in interest charges over the life of your loan. If you work with your dealer to find a comfortable monthly payment with a reasonable loan term, you may even qualify for a better car than you set out to buy.

Have Some Cash in Hand

Another thing that you should be prepared for is a down payment. A down payment is another way to save money over the course of your loan. The more money you can apply up front, the more you’ll save in interest charges. If your down payment is large enough, you may also be able to shorten your loan term. It also means you will be upside down—another term for having negative equity— for a shorter period of time.

It’s good to keep in mind that tax, title, and license (TTL) fees are not automatically included in your loan, so being prepared to cover these with cash can also help. These fees are set by the state you live in and are typically collected by the dealer, along with a documentation fee for filing the paperwork. Depending on your interest rate, you may want to pay these upfront to save yourself even more in the long run. Rolling TTL fees into your loan will increase the amount you borrow, which means more interest charges. If the tax, title, and license fees aren’t rolled into your loan or collected by the dealer, they have to be paid at the DMV at the time you register your vehicle.

Have a Cosigner on Standby

Another good tip is to talk to someone you can rely on about the possibility of cosigning. Not everyone will require a cosigner when applying for a subprime auto loan, but, depending on your credit, a lender may ask you to provide one. It can be to your benefit to have someone ready and willing to help, if need be. Your cosigner should be someone with good to excellent credit and enough income to support an additional auto loan.

Be Open-Minded

A big factor for a better car buying experience is to be open-minded. When you work with a special finance dealer, their lenders will let you know what you qualify for. Becoming attached to a particular vehicle may hurt your shopping experience. If you have poor credit and truly need a car, an auto loan can be a great way to improve your situation, but make sure to shop for a vehicle you need, not just one you want. Going in ready to work with the dealer and lender to get your best deal can really help you. By making all your payments on time, you can begin to build your credit so that next time you may qualify for that car you’ve had your eye on.

Know Where to Shop

When you’re looking for your next vehicle, the right dealer can make all the difference. At Drivers Lane, we specialize in connecting people with credit challenges to local dealers who have the lending resources available to help you. The network of special finance dealerships we work with is nationwide, and there is never any obligation. Take the first step to your better car buying experience by filling out our free online auto loan request form today!