When you've got bad credit getting an affordable vehicle is often key to getting a car at all. These days, the availability of these vehicles is shrinking – cars under $10,000 have been the hardest to find since July.

Used vehicle supply is up 7% since 2020, but still down 13% from 2019, meaning that the current numbers still haven't returned to pre-pandemic levels. So, what does this mean for you as a bad credit borrower?

This means that finding a car under $10K might take some doing, and you may have to sacrifice other deals to find a cheap car.

Bad Credit and Affordable Cars

Getting a Car Under $10K With Bad CreditAs a borrower with a credit score around 670 or below, you're likely to need special financing. Borrowers who need special financing typically need to meet several qualifications for an auto loan. You may not be eligible for the same kinds of loan terms that borrowers with better credit can get.

This means that even if you find an affordable car, your costs may be higher due to your credit situation. Credit impacts many facets of auto loans including how long your loan is, the amount you can finance, and your interest rate.

If you're looking into special financing you should know that the minimum amount of financing is typically around $5,000 including taxes and fees. With supply being short on many dealer lots, the average price of a used car across both franchised and independent dealerships was $25,829 in August, according to a recent Cox Automotive study.

That said, your best bet at a car under $10,000 might be to look for a vehicle with a buy here pay here (BHPH) dealer.

Working With a BHPH Dealer

When you work with a BHPH car lot you have the opportunity to find used vehicles that may be more affordable than the cars at other, larger dealerships. BHPH dealers are what's known as in-house financers, and they provide dealer financing. This means there's no waiting for a credit check from a third-party lender.

Many BHPH dealers don't check your credit which can make it easier to get approved for a loan when you're struggling. The trade-off is that BHPH lots only sell used cars, and often offer higher than average interest rates.

Other avenues to gain cheaper used cars these days may seem like a good way to go, such as Facebook Marketplace, or Craig's List, but these buying options, though sometimes ridiculously low-cost, can have problems of their own.

Cheap Used Car Tips

If you insist that you can't afford a vehicle more than $10K, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when you're searching for a car:

You get what you pay for. There's a difference between a cheap used car and an affordable vehicle. Sometimes when you shop cheap, you get just that – a car that doesn't hold its value or falls apart quickly. If you're on a budget for your next vehicle, focus on finding a reliable car that holds its value, like a Toyota or Subaru.

Always get a pre-sale inspection. A pre-purchase inspection should be a go-to move in any used car buying situation. Taking the vehicle to a certified mechanic can help you spot issues that you wouldn't know to look for on your own. If a dealership won't allow a pre-purchase inspection, consider walking away from the deal, especially if the car isn't selling for very much.

Know what you can negotiate. Not all parts of an auto financing deal can be negotiated, but there are a few that can. If you want to walk away with the best deal on your next vehicle make sure you know when to stand your ground on the numbers. Things like taxes, title, and license fees can't typically be negotiated – but interest rate, loan term, final sale price, and dealer doc fees often can.

Weigh your chance at credit repair. Credit repair is a big perk of buying a car with a bad credit auto loan. But if you're working with a BHPH dealer to find a cheap car, you may not get this opportunity. Some BHPH dealerships don't check your credit and are less likely to report your timely payments to the credit bureaus.

Don't forget the extra costs. It can cost a lot to keep a vehicle on the road. Additional costs such as insurance, fuel, and regular maintenance can really add up. The older and cheaper the car, the more potential it has to be inefficient when it comes to fuel and to need more costly repairs and additional maintenance.

Shop electric. For a good chance at a cheaper vehicle, try shopping electric. Electric cars don't have a high resale value, so if you only need something to get you around town, this might be worth checking out. And, if your credit's not all bad you may even have the opportunity to score a new EV at an affordable price.

Ready to Find an Affordable Vehicle?

If you're not sure where to start on your car buying journey or are having trouble finding a dealership that has what you're looking for and can help with your bad credit situation, we want to help. At Auto Credit Express, we've gathered a nationwide network of special finance dealers that have the lending resources you need. Let us take the stress out of your search by filling out our free auto loan request form.

If you're still shopping for the vehicle you need, and what to find the best deals you can on a vehicle under $10,000, you can check out our sister site CarsDirect to find the affordable used car you need.