If you aren't careful about shopping for your next used car, it could end up costing more than you're bargaining for. Here are six tips to help you save money and get the vehicle you need when you're financing a used car with bad credit.

Why Consider a Used Car When You Have Poor Credit?

Bad credit can make it difficult to finance a vehicle, so, often, bad credit borrowers opt for a used one for the initial savings that come from buying a less expensive car. Less expensive vehicles can mean saving overall – from needing less of a down payment to accruing fewer interest charges.

A used car can be a great option for many reasons, but there are some things that you have to keep in mind. If you only shop for the bargain, you're liable to end up paying more in maintenance and repairs in the long run, making your initial savings all for naught.

Let's look at six tips to getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying a used car.

1: Get a Vehicle History Report

When you're financing a vehicle you must have all the facts. Used cars can sometimes be masters of disguise, and you may not see major issues until it's too late. Though some issues can't be spotted no matter how hard you look, a vehicle history report can give you some insight into the car's past, so you can judge how it might hold up now and in the future.

A vehicle history report gives you the 411 on any issues that the car might have gone to the shop for. You may be able to get your hands on pasts service records, as well.

2: Visit a Certified Mechanic

Financing a Used Car? 6 Tips If You Have Bad CreditA vehicle history report is a good place to start, but it's only as good as the information that's been recorded by the mechanics who’ve worked on the vehicle. Not all shops record their service in the same universal system, and many times people work on vehicles themselves to save money in labor costs for simple things like oil changes or new brake pads. This is why it's important to bring any car you're considering purchasing to a certified mechanic for a thorough inspection.

Mechanics are trained to know the ins and outs of vehicles and may be more likely to spot issues that you wouldn't even know to look for. Also, this is a good way to check for damage that may not be listed anywhere.

3: Consider an Extended Warranty

Since you just never know what may have happened to a car in its past, it's a good idea to consider getting an extended warranty when you finance a used vehicle. Even after a top-to-tires inspection from a trained mechanic, there's no guarantee on the longevity of a car – machines breakdown. And, most used ones are sold as-is.

However, you can give yourself some peace of mind, and possibly some savings in the long run, by getting an extended service contract for your vehicle. An extended service contract covers maintenance and some repairs on your car so you may not end up having to shell out cash for issues that could arise.

Before you agree to an extended warranty, though, be sure to carefully read the coverage to see what's covered and where. All service contracts vary in their specifics, so be sure you're getting the plan that's right for your needs.

4: Don't Forget Your Down Payment!

Perhaps one of the best things you can do for yourself as a bad credit borrower is to be prepared with a significant down payment. No matter your credit situation, a down payment can only benefit your auto financing situation. Putting money down upfront shows that lenders that you're willing to have some skin in the game and are serious about completing your loan.

Additionally, when you make a down payment, you're borrowing less, which lowers your monthly payment and reduces the amount of interest charges you pay over your loan term. Depending on how much you decide to put down you could also qualify for a different loan term, lower interest rate, or a more expensive vehicle.

If you're a bad credit borrower, you're not likely to qualify for an auto loan without making a down payment. Typically, subprime lenders that work with credit-challenged consumers require a minimum down payment of at least $1,000 or 10% of a vehicle's selling price. Sometimes a lender accepts the lower of the two amounts, but it's in your own best interest to put down as much as you can afford to.

5: Consider a CPO

If you want to get the most reliability and peace of mind from a used car, a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle may be the way to go. These cars go through a rigorous inspection process from a manufacturer-certified technician and are refurbished to be in their top shape as a used car. CPOs have to meet strict quality, age, and mileage requirements to be considered certified. They're also backed by some form of manufacturer warranty.

Though these are still used vehicles, they're likely to only be a few years old and have likely only had one owner. Many CPO cars are just coming off lease, and most of them are a bit more expensive than non-certified vehicles.

6: Opt for Reliability and Affordability

Make sure you still factor in reliability and don't just go for the cheapest deal you can find. Remember that cars are depreciating assets, so their sticker prices tend to go down as their value declines. However, some makes and models hold onto their value better than others.

If a CPO is out of your price range try opting for a vehicle that's known for long-term reliability like Honda, Toyota, and Subaru. Most used cars for sale on dealer lots tend to have higher mileage, and it's recommended to opt for a car that has less than 100,000 miles on it. These days though, as technology makes progress, many vehicles – especially the above-mentioned brands – tend to run well past that point. A little research can help you find cars that are typically still going strong even as they roll past the 100,000-mile mark.

Let Us Make Your Options Clear

Here at Auto Credit Express, we want to help you make your next used car financing experience smooth sailing. Even though used vehicles are found at many different dealerships, not all dealers are signed up with lenders to help borrowers in all credit situations. It can be stressful to search in vain only to get turned down time and again. Instead, let us do the searching for you and match you to a local dealership that has the lenders you're looking for.

We've built a large network of special finance dealers all across the country that are ready to help you get the financing you need. To get the process started right now, simply fill out our quick auto loan request form and we'll get right to work. The process is completely free and there's zero obligation to buy, so what are you waiting for?