Shopping for 0-down car loans doesn't have to be frustrating and can be very rewarding in the long run. Here are a few things to know if you want to find a good 0-down deal.
Your Credit Score
If you have excellent credit then finding a car loan with no money down can be much easier. If you have credit that is good, but not excellent, most lenders will want something down. If you have poor or bad credit, you will likely not find a lender willing to give you a car with nothing down. The down payment serves as a guarantee for the lender. They know that you will likely not default on a car loan that you've already placed an investment into. If your credit is perfect or near perfect, the lender sees that they have less of a chance of you defaulting, and are often willing to waive the initial investment.
The down payment is generally applied directly to the price of the car, or the principle of the loan. By having the initial down payment waived, you are financing a portion you wouldn't have normally financed. While this may not raise your overall balance by much, it can increase your monthly payments. You will also end up paying interest in an amount you would not have by making a typical down payment.
Often times you can use the car you have now as a down payment by trading it in. If you have a car that you have kept in good shape, is mechanically sound and has no major structural damage then you will be able to trade in the car towards the new one. The value they give you for the trade is applied as your down payment. If the car is a newer model with low miles, you may be able to make a deal so you don't have to put any cash down. Most dealers can work with you and find a lender that will take your trade as down payment. If you have a trade that's worth less than 5% of the new vehicle cost, your options will be very limited. Another option to consider is a small amount of cash down in combination with the trade in.
If your credit is less than perfect, but you still want to try to get an auto loan with no money down, you may want to consider finding a cosigner who is credit worthy. With a cosigner the lender looks at both parties' credit scores, and will hold both parties responsible for the loan repayment. If you default on the loan, the cosigner is on the hook. If you have a cosigner, the lender is more apt to waive the down payment requirements. If you choose to use a cosigner, most lenders want to see someone who's related to you. You also need to remember that late payments or other poor payment methods will report on the cosigner's credit as well, so use caution with this!