If you live in the Seattle metropolitan area and rely on a car to get you in and out of the city, you may be wondering if you can finance a vehicle with bad credit. The good news is, in many cases, you can! The bad news is bad credit car loans aren't always easy to find.

How to Get a Bad Credit Car Loan

You may have seen dealerships in SODO or Greenwood that offer affordable vehicles for car buyers in Seattle. But not every dealer has the lending resources available that work with bad credit car buyers. Typically, you need to get financing through a subprime lender. These lenders only work through special finance dealerships to help people get bad credit auto loans, doing so by asking for specific requirements beyond what a traditional lender would.

Before you walk into a dealer, you need to do some research and planning:

  1. Check your credit – Even if you know you have bad credit, you should still check your FICO credit score and see what’s on your credit reports. Check if your bank, credit union, or credit card provider offers free access to your FICO score. If they don't, you can pay a small fee with a credit bureau or www.myFICO.com to get it. You’re also entitled to a free copy of your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. Make sure all the information listed on your reports is correct, and dispute any errors immediately.
  2. Budget – How much can you afford right now? When budgeting for a vehicle, you need to take into account insurance, taxes, maintenance, fuel, and interest charges on top of the selling price. If you need help budgeting, you can use our Car Loan Estimator and Payment Calculator to get some estimates.
  3. Research vehicles – Once you have an idea of what you can afford, you can begin looking up cars. Get an idea for what features and attributes are important to you so you know what you need out of a vehicle. Be practical, and only consider cars that fit your everyday needs.
  4. Try to get pre-approved – You should try to get pre-approved for a loan with personal bank or credit union. If you're successful, you gain the advantage of knowing what you're allowed to spend and can pick a vehicle based off of that. However, banks and credit unions are less willing to work with bad credit borrowers, so you may not be able to get pre-approved.
  5. Research interest rates – If you can’t get pre-approved by your bank or credit union, and you’re not sure what interest rate you might qualify for, do some digging to see what other consumers with similar credit scores are getting approved for.
  6. Have a down payment ready – Because a down payment is almost always required with a bad credit auto loan, make sure you have the cash or trade-in equity to cover it. Although the required amount varies, most subprime lenders ask for a minimum of $1,000 or 10 percent of the vehicle’s selling price, whichever is less.
  7. Have a cosigner on hand – Although not every subprime lender requires one, it doesn’t hurt to have someone with good credit willing to cosign for your car loan. You may even qualify for a better interest rate if you have a cosigner.

Find a Dealership to Work with Through Us

Now that you're prepared, it's time to find a dealership that can get you financed. Not every dealer is connected to the subprime lenders that can help you out, but Auto Credit Express can point you in the right direction. We work with special finance dealerships all over Seattle and the surrounding area, from Ballard to Bellevue and everywhere in between.

Let us do the searching for you. Fill out our free and easy auto loan request form, and we'll work to connect you with a dealer near you. We've been helping consumers get connected to dealerships across the Emerald City and the rest of Washington state for over 20 years, so you can get started with confidence today.