I exist. How about them apples?
So I ventured back into the car business; this time, though, I’m not out on the line like your average car salesman. I took a job in special finance. For those of you unfamiliar with that, special finance is the area of a dealership that takes care of people whose credit is something less than shiny. It happens, you know…you take a pay cut or lose your job, fall behind on some things, make a few bad decisions. We’re none of us perfect. Problem is, for a lot of dealerships (especially right now), if your credit isn’t all that great, you’re not going to get a car. That’s where the special finance departments come into play.
Not every dealership has one. Some are more comprehensive than others. The one I work for specializes in really dodgy situations — bankruptcies (open or discharged), repossessions, major collections, all that. People might be in credit trouble, but everyone still needs a car — especially up here, where things can be spread out somewhat and there isn’t always mass transit available to get you from point A to point B without too much hassle.
If you’re out to purchase a car and you know your credit is less than spotless, there are a few things you should always bring with you to the dealership:
- Proof of income. This means pay stubs, or tax forms. For pay stubs, bring at least the last two; right around this time of year bringing last year’s W-2 is also a good idea. If you’re self-employed, bring your previous year’s tax statements as well as three months’ worth of bank statements to prove deposits.
- A recent utility bill in your name. This functions as proof of residence — and when you give your address to the dealer, please give a physical address! PO Boxes don’t count.
- A recent phone bill in your name.
- 6-10 references. These are people you know personally, and bring ALL the information you can get — full names, full addresses, phone numbers, relationship to you. These people won’t be given any information about your situation.
- Landlord/mortgage company’s name, phone number, and how much you pay a month. Again, these people won’t be given any information about your situation.
- Proof of valid drivers’ license.
- Proof of valid, current auto insurance. If you don’t have any insurance, your dealer can usually help you sign up on the spot.
Now, like all things, there can be exceptions to these rules. Those will be a case-by-case thing, however, and are something that you’ll find out at the time of the deal. In general, if you bring the above documentation with you when you go out shopping, you’ll be in a much better buying position.