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How Soon After Bankruptcy Can I Buy a New Car

How Soon After Bankruptcy Can I Buy a New Car

Bankruptcy doesn’t mean you can’t buy a new car!

As a formerly licensed car dealer and someone who has helped many navigate loans after financial struggles, I want to equip you with everything you need to qualify for auto financing on the best terms.

Key Takeaways

  • Allow 4-6 months after Chapter 7 and up to 2 years after Chapter 13 before applying. This helps improve your odds of approval and secures better rates.
  • Rebuild credit in the meantime by making on-time payments, disputing errors, and using secured cards responsibly. Aim for at least a 680 credit score.
  • Save up a 20% down payment if possible. This results in paying less interest and needing to finance less.
  • Shop around for lenders familiar with financing after bankruptcy. Compare interest rates and loan terms closely. Credit unions often offer more flexibility.

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These key steps can help you overcome bankruptcy’s lasting credit impact and qualify for reasonable auto loan rates sooner.

Overview of Bankruptcy Chapters

Before jumping into financing specifics, it helps to understand the most common bankruptcy filings that bring people here searching for “car loans after bankruptcy.”

Chapter 7 involves liquidating assets to pay debts and then receiving a discharge of remaining debts. This is typically completed within 4-6 months.

Chapter 13 sets up a multi-year repayment plan to repay creditors over time. Once completed, the remaining debts also get discharged. The entire process usually lasts 3-5 years.

Each bankruptcy type has different timelines, but both can hinder auto financing if applied for too soon.

Waiting Periods After Bankruptcy

So when can you start applying for a car loan after bankruptcy? Here is a breakdown:

Waiting Periods After Chapter 7

Most experts suggest waiting 6-12 months after receiving your Chapter 7 discharge before applying for financing. This gives some time for your credit to start to recover before asking lenders to take a risk on you.

Some specialty lenders may approve loans within 3-6 months, but interest rates will likely be much higher.

I recommend waiting at least 12 months, if possible, and continuing credit rehabilitation efforts before applying.

Waiting Periods After Chapter 13

Since Chapter 13 involves a multi-year structured repayment plan, waiting periods here are generally longer.

It’s technically possible to receive financing during your repayment plan if you get court permission. However, interest rates will still be quite high.

After completing Chapter 13, it’s best to wait at least two years before applying for auto financing. This allows more time to improve your credit score and secure better rates.

The longer you wait, the better – but if you need a vehicle immediately, get pre-approvals from a few lenders after discharge before deciding.

Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy

No matter what type of bankruptcy you filed, the next several years should focus on rebuilding your credit.

Here are the most effective ways to start recovering your scores after a bankruptcy hit:

  • Pay all bills on time – Setting up autopay and reminders can help with this. One late payment can undo months of progress.
  • Keep credit utilization below 30% – Don’t max out credit cards even if it feels tempting.
  • Dispute inaccurate information – Errors on your credit reports contributing to a lower score can be removed.
  • Become an authorized user – Ask a family member with good credit to add you.
  • Get a secured credit card – Make small monthly purchases and pay in full.
  • Avoid applying for more credit – Too many hard inquiries will hurt your rebuilding efforts.

Shoot for at least a 680 credit score before applying for auto financing. This can help qualify for lower interest rates.

Be patient, as it takes consistent good financial habits to offset bankruptcy’s lasting impact. But staying focused on credit rehabilitation will pay off tremendously.

Financing Options for Purchasing Vehicle After Bankruptcy

Assuming you’ve allowed sufficient time to pass and have been working on improving your credit situation, what options exist for financing a vehicle purchase after bankruptcy?

Should You Pay Cash or Finance?

The best option is to save up and pay cash for a used car in full if possible.

This allows you to avoid credit checks and interest charges as you continue recovering financially. With bankruptcy’s discharge freeing up monthly income previously going toward debts, cash may be more attainable.

However, I realize that saving thousands of dollars takes significant time.

Financing can bridge the gap if you need more reliable transportation before that’s possible. Just beware higher rates.

Where To Get an Auto Loan After Bankruptcy

These several types of lenders are most likely to approve loans for those with a discharged bankruptcy:

  • Credit unions – Non-profit and member-owned credit unions offer some of the lowest rates and more flexibility than traditional banks. Expect to provide solid income, job history, and repayment ability documentation.
  • Online lenders – Specializing in higher-risk loans, their rates aren’t the best, but they may approve with minimal credit requirements if you have a stable income.
  • Subprime lenders – Most buy-here, pay-here dealers and stores catering exclusively to bad credit fall under this category. Rates can be astronomical, so compare carefully before committing.

I always recommend starting with credit unions first when trying to get any type of financing after bankruptcy. If that doesn’t work out, expand your search to online lenders and others welcoming those with financial hardships.

Should You Use a Co-Signer?

If you have a trusted friend or family member with strong credit open to co-signing an auto loan, this can definitely improve your chances of qualifying and securing a lower interest rate.

Just make sure you explain their financial obligation if payments become delinquent – co-signers are equally liable for remaining loan balances.

While a last resort option if you’ve already allowed a year or more to pass since discharge, it may be necessary for some starting rebuilding credit from scratch.

Other Key Tips for Post-Bankruptcy Auto Financing

As you navigate finding the best loan offers, watch out for a few key things:

Interest Rates

  • Expect rates over 10% in most cases
  • Compare offers from at least 3 lenders
  • Accept rates under 15% when first starting out
  • Refinance later once your score recovers

Vehicle Choices

  • Opt for an inexpensive used car
  • Consider something under $15,000
  • Avoid new cars or luxury vehicles
  • Be realistic about features needed

Down Payments

  • Save up to put down 20% if possible
  • Put down as much as you can
  • Lower amounts require financing more
  • Improves loan approval odds

Loan Terms

  • Accept longer terms only temporarily
  • Ideally keep loan terms under 60 months
  • Pay more toward principal once credit recovers
  • Pay off loan as fast as possible

Lender Reputation

  • Thoroughly research all financing companies
  • Check Better Business Bureau ratings
  • Read online reviews before applying
  • Avoid “no credit check” and “guaranteed approval”

Car Buying After Bankruptcy Quick Reference Table

Factor / ActionChapter 7 BankruptcyChapter 13 Bankruptcy
Waiting Period to Buy a CarWait until after the bankruptcy process is finalized (about 4-6 months).May need court permission during repayment plan; otherwise, after discharge.
Obtaining FinancingPossible, but expect high interest rates.Possible with court permission; expect high interest rates.
Effect on Credit ReportStays on the report for up to 10 years.Stays on the report for up to 7 years.
Improving Chances of Approval– Rebuild credit over time.
– Save for a down payment.
– Check credit report for errors.
– Continue making Chapter 13 payments on time.
– Rebuild credit.
– Save for a down payment.
Timing for Better Interest RatesBetter rates likely after at least 1-2 years post-discharge.Better rates likely after at least 2 years or completion of the payment plan.
Financing Options– Credit unions.
– Bad credit lenders.
– Consider a co-signer.
– Credit unions.
– Specialized lenders.
– High-interest options.
Post-Bankruptcy Credit Rebuilding– Secured credit cards.
– Small loans with on-time payments.
– Maintain a good payment history with the repayment plan.
– Secured credit cards after discharge.

My Closing Thoughts

Taking these proactive steps while assessing your options after bankruptcy can lead to successful auto financing success despite less-than-ideal credit scores.

Stay focused on rebuilding credit responsibly, and soon, you’ll be back to qualifying for the best rates available.

Sources and References:

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Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.

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