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Patty, I'm a young adult with horrible credit from a bad marriage, and I need to purchase a used car. I can't afford a $1000 down payment. What can I do?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Heather Conary, Founding Partner  at ID Communications, a division of Illumination Design If you can pull it off, try to find a beater that someone is selling used. You can usually find something from $100-300 for sale by owner because the owner wants to get rid of it. Doing this will help you in a few ways - you can get a car as soon as possible, and it will buy you some time. If you can baby it without putting a ton of money into it until you can either improve your credit a little to help you finance, or save up some cash for a down payment, you will be better off! Alternately, if this isn't a possibility, or if you don't feel comfortable doing this, try to find a dealership that does fresh start financing or poor credit financing. Usually these can get you into a loan with a bank even if you have a poor or no credit history. If you have a good relationship with your bank and have been a customer for years, you may also contact them and see what they can offer for assistance. Sometimes you can do vehicle financing directly through a bank and get a good loan even if you can't find a dealership that does fresh start financing. Most importantly, keep a close eye on your credit. Work on paying down debt, call your credit card company and ask for a lower APR if you already have a high balance, always make sure to make your payments on time, and get your credit score regularly. This advice applies not only to a vehicle purchase, but also a mortgage, student loans or personal loans. If you can do something to get you by (either through a junker, public transportation, or a very understanding friend/relative) while you improve your credit, you'll be in a much better financial situation. Best of luck!

Jenny Trostel, Partner at Anderson of Hunt Valley It can be difficult to buy a car when you have bad credit. Begin shopping and determine how much you can afford each month. Have you been at your current job for a while? Length of time on the job can be helpful in this situation. Have you been paying your current obligations on time? This will help to establish a positive payment record. Don't try to buy more car than you can afford. Start with a lower cost vehicle to re-establish your credit and then buy a better one in a couple of years. Good Luck!

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