If you've been shopping around for a semi-truck and your credit is making it challenging for you to get approved for financing, there is one alternative option you may consider; which is to visit a "buy here, pay here" dealer. The good news is that there's many dealers that offer their own in house financing programs and the majority of them do not require any credit check. However, it is important that you understanding the contract obligations before signing on the dotted line. There's many ways the financial agreement can be structured and we've included some examples of the most common ones that you'll see.
LOAN: The sum of money (cost of truck) you borrow that is expected to be paid back with interest to the dealership without a residual or balloon payment.
FAIR MARKET VALUE LEASE (FMV): This option generally has lower monthly payments however, if you elect to purchase the equipment at the end of the term, you may do so at an agreed "fair market value" price.
TRAC LEASE: Combines all the advantages of leasing while retaining the option to purchase the equipment at the end of the lease term at a predetermined residual agreed to when the lease starts.
American truck showroom is one of many dealers that have their own in house program with zero credit checks and offer their own warranty / roadside assistance programs as add-on services. They have 3 locations in Phoenix, Atlanta & Gulfport with a decent selection of trucks. Although they do not have any credit checks, they do have some requirements that need to be met.
You must be 25 years of age with a CDL (2 years)
No careless, reckless driving or DUI’s for 5 years (they verify by running an MVR)
No current or dismissed bankruptcy
Proof of work – letter of intent from your haul source or a copy of your authority
DOWN PAYMENTS & CLOSING/DELIVERY PROCESS
Their program guidelines, are disclosed on their website for your review. You will be charged for the state tax*and we're assuming that the tax will be integrated into your contract & monthly payments since it's a lease agreement however, you will need to confirm this with the dealer
Range from $2,995 + and they'll consider accepting trucks, boats, motorcycle and cars that you own free and clear of any liens as a trade in.
Closing & Delivery:
This dealer charges a one time, non-refundable $500 closing fee at the time of signing. They state that every truck is DOT ready or they will fix it free of charge before you sign the contract and drive off the lot. They also advise buyers to test drive & inspect the truck before moving forward with the agreement and this is what they say about their warranty coverage plan.
"After you leave with your new truck you will receive nation-wide bumper-to-bumper protection. 50/50 5 Year Nationwide Unlimited Mileage Better Than A Warranty ensures you stay rolling no matter where your at. If you’re on the road and 1,000 miles away from home, you are not alone. Someone is here at our facility to help you every step of the way making sure you get huge discounts on parts and labor"
Find out if your down payment will be applied towards the purchase of the truck. You should also request to review their warranty coverage summary form so that you'd know which engine and transmission components are covered. The warranty summary form should reflect how much their repair caps are and if there's any surcharges or deductibles due per occurrence.
UNDERSTANDING THE OPTION TO BUY
Their financing program is structured into a Fair Market Value lease. After the first calendar year of timely payments, ATS allows you to purchase the truck at the NADA book value and it's adjusted four times a year so that when you’re ready to purchase the truck, the total sales price is lower. The buyout amount needs to be paid in full to the dealer in order to own the truck. It's unclear though, if the dealer will outline an estimated buyout amount on your contract (you will need to discuss this with them).
The buyout amount AKA Balloon Payment:
To be honest, the buyout amount is going to be a lump sum of money and the dealer will not finance it. At this point you have 2 options:
1. SAVE THE CASH: As you start generating income with your truck, set some money away EVERY TIME you get paid so that you'll have a portion or the entire amount in hand. The more expensive the truck you get into, the higher it is likely the buyout amount will be. Ideally, you should probably save away upto $1,000 a month x 12months.
2. FINANCE THE BUYOUT AMOUNT: Since the dealership will not finance the buyout amount, you will need to either have the cash in hand or seek a lease buyout financing solution. If you're approved for the funds, the lender will fund American Truck Showrooms for the amount you owe and you would pay back the lender for the amount borrowed.
You should find out if the dealer can provide you with the truck's estimated buyout value before signing the contract. You should also consider fixing your credit yourself or hiring a credit repair company to improve your overall credit worthiness.
CONTRACT - BEFORE YOU SIGN ON THE LINE
Before making the commitment you must carefully read the enclosed terms and the entire contract before signing. If you do not understand the wording on the contract and you have questions, you're better off consulting with a lawyer (I know what you're thinking) lawyer fees are expensive, etc.. but in fact; it really isn't, most lawyers will charge you a flat fee to read and interpret the contract for your full understanding.
Legalzoom has a network of lawyers that can read your legal documents (up to 10 pages in length) for a flat fee starting from $39.
CHOOSING THE TRUCK
The truck you choose needs to be inspected and well tested before signing the contract. When you arrange to see it in person, make sure to spend some time in test driving the truck and look around at the tires, brakes, etc and note any concerning areas that would need to be discussed with the dealer. You can hire a third-party inspector to print out an ECM report that will reflect any faulty codes as well as provide you with a detailed diagnostic report like this one that will include a conditions report (a test like this one starts from $495) Another option is to have a mechanic go onsite to take a look at the truck.
Obtaining a VIN history report on the truck will give you insight of the trucks history. Was the truck ever in an accident? is the title salvage or rebuilt? has it had flood/water damage? Any lemon history? All of these questions are very important and need to be known before making a purchase. If the dealer doesn't supply you with a report from a reputable history provider, then you might aswell order one yourself. They're very inexpensive starting from $6.99 at instaVIN
instaVIN is a leading vehicle history report provider with unique and extensive data not found in other history reports such as CARFAX® or AutoCheck®. Data is sourced in virtual real-time which provides the most up-to-date events. Data sources include U.S. Department of Justice, law enforcement, state DMVs and commercial and private sources. instaVIN is an authorized NMVTIS Consumer Access Provider (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System).
We've had several clients of ours that we've assisted in financing trucks sold by American Truck Showrooms and (honestly) none of the 10+ trucks were lemons or had any major mechanical issues. However, 80% of our clients did complain about worn out tires, brakes, broken lights and minor cosmetic issues. We've had a client that said their truck had a dent on the side of the door and was preventing it from closing properly but the dealer did fix it as promised. We also had one other client that had to have the engine overhauled 8 months later at 850K miles and he was disappointed that the truck didn't reach the 1 million mile mark before needing the work but the overhaul was complete and the truck is back on the road (the cost of his engine overhauled was $14,000 w/labor).
The truth is that purchasing any used big rig involves some form of risk, whether you're buying it from a well known dealer, a buy here pay here dealer or a private seller, you still need to know what you're buying or hire a professional to tell you what you're buying. We understand it is impossible to know if the truck will experience any major mechanical issues shortly after the purchase but if you take a proactive approach like doing a VIN history check and inspect the truck or arrange to have it inspected, that will minimize the overall risk.
This dealer has mixed reviews but you shouldn't allow the negative reviews discourage you entirely. You can look around and compare what other dealers are offering, to narrow it down to the one dealership that will be the best fit for you. Buy here pay here dealers are last resort options for those who have bad credit but the flipside is that you're given a chance to become an owner operator and this opportunity will help you achieve your business goals.
1. Know where your credit stands (you never know) you may qualify to get financing from a lender unless if you have a recent repossessions, child support collections, unpaid tax liens or an open bankruptcy reflected on your credit. You can get a free credit report at Credit Karma.
2. Inspect, test drive and inspect the truck some more before making any commitment.
Arrange for a mechanic to go onsite
Or you can arrange to have an inspector go onsite
Obtain a VIN History Check Report on the truck
3. Make sure to read or hire an attorney to go over the legal contract before signing. Also, make sure the dealer agrees to repair and/or replace what's needed on the truck (BEFORE SIGNING & PAYING THEIR $500 CLOSING FEE) and request to get the agreement in writing not "word of mouth" but on paper signed by both parties.
Truck inspection provider for ECM/Diagnostic reports (starting from $390)
VIN Check History Report to review the truck's entire history (starting from $6.99)
Truck Financing Solutions where you may qualify to get a approved for a truck loan/lease
LegalZoom / Attorney Service to review the contract (up to 10 pages in length starting from $39)