6 Things You Should Have Before You Head to the Car Dealership

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated September 5, 2019

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September 5, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Americans bought about 5.3 million cars in 2018. Unfortunately, many of them see buying a car as a negative experience. They worry that they will get taken advantage of, won’t get the financing they need, or will purchase a vehicle that doesn’t work well.

There are always some unknown factors when you buy a vehicle. You can, however, make the experience more enjoyable by bringing these six documents when you head to the car dealership.

Dealerships will only sell vehicles to people who can drive. That means you need to bring a valid driver’s license to the car lot. Without a license, the dealership can only show you options. It can’t even let you test drive a car.

You also need to bring proof of insurance. Ideally, you already know what kind of car you want to buy. When you know that, you can talk to your insurance company ahead of time about the level of coverage you need. Then, you can finish buying your insurance policy immediately before purchasing your new car.

Few people can afford to buy a car without financing. Most dealerships have funding options that they get from local and national lenders. You can also talk to your bank about borrowing money to buy your car.

If you choose to get financing through the dealership, you will need some documents that show you’re not a risk.

Most dealers will want to see:

  • Recent pay stubs (bring at least 3 months of them)
  • Bank statements (again, bring 3 months of statements)
  • Your credit report
  • Your credit score

These documents show the dealership that you have enough money to make monthly payments. Assuming that you have good credit, the documents could also help you secure a low-interest loan that makes buying a car more affordable. Know where your credit stands before heading to the dealership. .

Before you head to the car dealership, make sure you have:

  • Your license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Your credit report
  • Your credit score

If you have those items, you should find that buying a new or used car takes less time. Some dealers may want other items, too. It never hurts to call ahead to make sure you have the documents that the seller wants to see.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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