How Fast is the Bad Credit Car Loan Process?

Get Car Financing
Even with poor credit.

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - September 7, 2018

The process of getting an auto loan can vary quite a bit on the time it takes to complete. But with proper planning and preparation, a bad credit car buyer can get auto financing just as quickly as someone getting a traditional loan.

Car Loan Pre-approval Makes for Quick Deals

For the quickest result at a dealership, it helps if a buyer arrives with a pre-approval from a bank or credit union. This can be difficult for a person who’s struggling with credit issues because banks usually only approve people with good credit. However, they may be more willing to work with someone who already has a pre-existing relationship with them. Getting a pre-approval from a credit union could be even less challenging for established clients in good standing.

Once a consumer is pre-approved for an auto loan, they can visit a dealer, select a vehicle in their price range, hand over a check, and wrap up the process.

How to Speed Up the Bad Credit Car Loan Process

If pre-approval isn’t possible, a potential buyer can go to a special finance dealer to get an auto loan. These dealerships often work with lenders that specialize in assisting people who have subprime credit and are otherwise unable to get financed. There are different requirements and qualifications to meet, however, which vary by lender.

To ensure as much speed and success as possible, being prepared is the best bet. By doing research beforehand, buyers can speed up their process by knowing what they need in a vehicle, and what they don’t.

Research to Expedite the Car Buying Process

Using online tools and calculators, potential borrowers can plan a budget, as well as see estimates of monthly payments, down payment, and approximate interest rates. When planning a budget, be sure payments can be made comfortably. As a bad credit car buyer, this means keeping your debt to income ratio at 50 percent or less, and your payment to income ratio between 15 and 20 percent. Lenders set these limits to make sure you’re not stretching yourself too thin financially. An auto loan can be a great way to improve credit, but only if all the monthly payments are made on time and in full.

Another way to prepare for the financing process is by researching vehicles so you can get your best deal, as quickly as possible. Remember, now isn’t the time to finance a dream car. You should make a list of must haves, and check out vehicles that meet your needs as a driver. But, you also have to be flexible enough to meet the dealer halfway. As a bad credit car buyer, you may not be able to get the specific year, make, model, or trim level you want. Having your general purpose and goals for a car in mind helps you make a vehicle selection you can feel good about until your credit has improved enough to get the car you’ve been dreaming of.

Paperwork for Buying a Used Car

Once a buyer has prepared, they can speed up the process at the dealership by bringing all their necessary paperwork and documents with them. Come in ready to present a dealer with:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of a working landline or contract cell phone in your name
  • A list of six to eight complete personal references

Lender requirements for specific documentation vary, but generally all subprime lenders look for the items listed. If you can, confirm the necessary documentation requirements before visiting the dealership so you don’t have to make multiple trips.

Once you've been matched with a dealer, you'll meet with the finance manager. There, it’ll be determined what kind of monthly payment you can comfortably afford. Once approved, you’ll go out to the car lot and select a vehicle that falls within the price range that fits your budget.

Fast-track Your Process with Us

At CarsDirect, we’re your solution for a quicker car loan process. Instead of spending time going from dealer to dealer only to find they can’t work with your credit score, go to the right dealership the first time. We get to work finding a car dealer right in your area that can give you a better chance at loan approval immediately after you submit our free auto loan request form.

We work with an extensive network of special finance dealerships that have lending resources to work with challenging credit situations. Let us help you find a local dealer. Simply fill out our quick auto loan request form to get the process on the right track from the start!

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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