How to Buy a Car With Low Salary?

July 30, 2022

Purchasing a car with a low monthly income can feel like an impossible task but there are ways to make buying a car more affordable. This article will delve into things to consider when you’re looking to purchase a vehicle on a low salary. Buying a vehicle is one of the most important purchase decisions you will make, so it’s definitely worth it to choose both your new ride and your financing options wisely. Nobody wants to get tangled in credit loans.

Figure Out Your Budget

The first question to ask yourself is how much you can afford to spend on a car. You’ll need to factor in the initial price as well as the running costs of the car. The running costs can include fuel, maintenance, insurance, repairs and they can vary car by car. Used cars can sometimes incur more maintenance costs than newer cars. How you use your car also has an impact on running costs. Think about questions like “How often will you drive the car? Will you use the vehicle to only drive on paved roads or will you also be driving on dirt roads and rough terrain?” These questions will help you estimate the running costs that might occur.

Typically, you should aim to spend no more than 20% of your monthly income on car-related expenses, especially if you earn a minimum salary (including fuel, insurance, repairs, and maintenance costs). However, it’s important to come up with a figure that you’re comfortable with personally whether that includes spending more or less on car expenses than recommended. Try to make a budget for all your monthly expenses from utilities to your home loan. This will help you determine how much you can afford to spend monthly on car-related expenses.

Save Up

Saving up money over a period of time can greatly help with financing a car on a low salary. You can look at your expenses and see where you can afford to make some cuts over a period of time, whether that is over a few months or a few years. For example, instead of renting out a place, you can opt to live with your relatives for a while to save up some cash that you can put towards your new vehicle. Putting down a larger deposit initially can help lower the amount you’ll need to pay in monthly repayments, so it’s definitely worth it to save up.

Look up Your Credit Score

Before making a purchase, you’ll also want to check your credit score. This will give your information as to which types of loans you qualify for, which can, in turn, determine your budget and options. It’s also important to talk to specific lenders about their credit score and income requirements to find the right lender for you.

Figure out Your Financing Options

Once you’ve set your ideal budget, know your credit score, and have seen where you can afford to save up, then it’s time to look at the various car financing options available to you. This can include asking yourself whether you wish to buy a car, lease a car, or enter into a rent-to-own contract. You can also determine how much you’re able and willing to spend in cash on upfront payments. Each option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages and various financial considerations.

The minimum salary to qualify for car finance in South Africa

This is also something very important to mention before we jump in-to the options available. You must be a paid employee with a minimum monthly income of R6500. If you do not meet this requirement, you won’t be able to qualify for car finance.

Buying a car

Buying a car might be the best and most economic option if you want to keep the vehicle for many years. After you’ve paid off your loan, your car will be yours and you’ll only need to pay for its running costs. Buying a car does constitute a large upfront purchase and you’ll most likely need to take out a loan. If you have poor credit, then getting a loan with good interest rates might be a challenge.

You can get a loan from a credit provider. It’s a good idea to go with a credit provider that you trust since there can be a few shady lenders. Your loan interest rate will depend on your creditworthiness.

What you can do is choose to buy a car in cash by saving up or selling an older car or another item to finance your new vehicle. In addition, you can also enlist help from family and friends.

Leasing a car

Leasing a car is a good choice if you only want to use the car for a period of time and then swap it for another one. You’ll pay for the car monthly and will not need to make such a large upfront purchase. Insurance and maintenance can sometimes be included in the monthly payments which is a plus. However, most leases are handled through credit providers, so you’ll still need to show your credit score. So if your credit score is low, don’t even bother with leasing. Most businesses require you to qualify for a high credit score.

Another disadvantage of leasing is that you will not have ownership over the car and there might be some limitations to vehicle usage, and if you even slightly damage the vehicle, you will need to pay for damages. Lastly, you can forget customizations in the vehicle, as you won’t be able to do any kind of modifications to it. So you should consider thinking about the other options in our list if your credit score isn’t in the best standing.


Rent-to-own can be a good option if you have a poor credit score, or if you are blacklisted. With rent-to-own, you rent a car directly from a car dealership or another provider and pay for it in monthly instalments until you finally buy out the car. This can be a good choice for people looking to buy their own car but who do not have the money or credit score to buy the vehicle upfront.

There are also plenty of various rent-to-own services here in South Africa, such as Planet42, which offers a flat monthly subscription based fee for the vehicle of your choosing from many various car brands, until eventually you could buy it out. It is a great way for South Africans with both high and low credit scores to not spend a large sum of money at once and get a great vehicle that will last them for a very long time. No need to get yourself in personal loan or borrowing troubles.

Research Cars on the Market

It’s worth it to look at different types of cars and also different brands, to find the car most suitable for your needs and budget. You can read reviews and ratings about various cars and brands to get an idea of what to expect cost-wise for each car and whether the specific car uses a lot of fuel and needs frequent repairs. You need to look into whether you want to purchase a new car or a used car. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

A used car will typically be much cheaper, however, the running costs could prove high if you need regular maintenance visits and repairs. A newer car will usually be more expensive but you could save money by spending less money on repairs and maintenance costs. The best option could be to find a car that is lightly used. It’ll be cheaper than a brand new car and it will hopefully also run properly saving you money on potential repairs.

You can find cars available for purchase at car dealerships and online. Local Facebook groups and Facebook’s Marketplace can help you find great used cars. Dealership websites can also be a great place to browse through various options. You can have a look at this list of car dealerships in South Africa and browse through their websites or visit their local branch. These dealerships also provide rent-to-own deals. A good rule of thumb is always looking for a branch of options.


Buying a car is a huge investment, you’ll either be paying a large amount of cash for it upfront or be paying off the loan, lease or rent-to-own instalments for months or even years to come. It’s always better to negotiate if you can and ensure that you get the best deal possible. This is especially important if you have a low monthly income. In most cases negotiation talks are successful and you will be able to get a nice deal and save a decent amount of money, especially if you are buying from a private seller, who needs to get rid of the vehicle quickly.

So be vary when you are purchasing from private buyers, as there are a lot of things they may be hiding from you about the vehicle. You need to consider that the private sellers can choose to lie about its condition to sell you the vehicle quickly. So you’ll have to be very vigilant for any problems with the car. If you purchase the car without seeing the problems, you may need to spend your salary on fixing issues that you were not informed about from the seller.

Buy Based on Purchase Price

It’s important to consider the purchase price of a vehicle, when determining which car you can afford, rather than per month payments. Low monthly payments can be deceptive and seem appealing but you’ll be paying them for a longer amount of time which will jack up the interest rates and make you pay more money overall. Though you may not have a big amount of disposable income, so this option isn’t for everyone.

Buying a car is one of the most important purchase decisions you’ll make in your life and having a low monthly income can make finding the vehicle of your dreams a little more challenging. However, following these tips can help you. If you want to learn more about rent-to-own cars and car dealers that sell used cars in South Africa, have a look at our website. We have plenty of material to read and to help you choose the best option available. Good luck!